Emotional Intelligence Tips: 5 Ways To Better Manage Yourself

In my last post, I outlined five strategies to grow your self-awareness. Self-management builds on self-awareness and helps you learn how to best respond to certain emotions. Self-management is how you actively choose what you say and do in light of your self-awareness.  A high level of self-management will preclude you from getting in your own way and do things that might limit your potential. Here are five specific strategies that you can start doing today to help you manage your emotions. The authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 lists some of the ways in which you can increase your self-awareness.

1. Breathe Right

Sounds simple, yet if you’re like most people, you breath in short, shallow breaths throughout the day. In other words, your body doesn’t get the full amount of oxygen it needs when you fail to fully contract your diaphragm to fill your lungs. Your brain requires a full 20 percent of your body’s oxygen supply to keep you alert, focused and calm. Shallow breath will lead to poor concentration, forgetfulness, mood swings, and depression.

The next time you’re in a stressful situation, focus on taking slower and deeper breaths, inhaling through your nose. Feel your stomach swelling outward and growing tight and then exhale completely through your mouth. Do this for some time. When you do this consistently, you’re going to immediately notice the effects. Many people say this helps them become calmer and feel their head is clear. This is one of the most powerful techniques you can use to manage yourself. If you want to learn different ways to breath right, I highly recommend this great book, “The Art of Breathing: 6 Simple Lessons to Improve Performance, Health, and Well-Being.” 

2. Make Your Goals Public

Much of self-management comes down to motivation and there’s no better way to keep yourself accountable and motivated than making things public. The moment you tell others your goals and dreams this creates an expectation and inescapable accountability. Whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, declare your goals. Engage the people you share your goals with by asking them to help monitor your progress and hold you accountable. Empower them to give you rewards or punishment. For example, if you don’t keep your words, you can pay your colleague $50 anytime you miss the deadline.  Here’s a rather interesting book that talks about goal setting in a different light: The Magic Lamp: Goal Setting for People Who Hate Setting Goals

3. Count to 10

Yes, remember this lesson from kindergarten? When you feel you’re losing it, stop yourself by taking in a deep breath and verbalizing the number one to yourself as you exhale. Keep using the breathing technique until you reach 10. This process will actually relax you and stop you making any rash decision or action. Sometimes, you might not even take to 10. What’ll happen is that the flow of frustation and anger will cool down your overheated limbic system and give your cognitive and rational brain more time to catch up.

4. Take Control of Your Self-Talk

Studies show that an average person generates around 50,000 thoughts every day. When these thoughts are generated chemicals in our brain are produced and trigger constant reactions in our body. Our emotions and our thinking has an inextricably connection with our body. Most of us aren’t even aware of these thoughts – it happens on a unconscious level most of the time. Carol Dweck, Stanford psychologist and best-selling author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success says, “The view we adopt ourselves has a profound influence in how we lead our lives.” In Travis Bradberry’s Emotional Intelligence 2.0, he outlines some common types of negative self-talk and how to overcome them.

  • Turn I always or I never into just this time or sometimes.
  • Replace judgmental statements like I’m an idiot with factual ones like I made a mistake.
  • Accept responsibility for your actions and no one else’s.

5. Speak to Someone Who is Not Emotionally Invested in Your Problem

Whenever problems arise, your brain is constantly sorting and analyzing information and thinking ways to fix the problem. The problem is you only have one brain. It’s so easy to get our minds stuck. Instead, finding a person whom you can trust and confide in that’s not affected by your situation will serve as a sounding board for what you’ve experienced. Listening to them will give you unique perspective of your options and choices. The key here is to choose this person wisely. This person should not have a vested interest in this situation whatsoever.