Motherhood is loaded with emotion. From the desire to bear a child, to raising a kiddo, to when they move out; there is so much of our feelings involved. But in the midst of it all, do we take time to process our feelings? Or worse, do we stuff them? Emotional Intelligence (or Emotional Quotient, EQ for short) is one’s ability to be aware of, judiciously manage, and understand one’s emotions.
As mothers and generation-raisers, increasing our EQ will not only help us, but it will also inherently help our children. It is a skill to be learned, not something we are born with. Let me explain.
Express Yourself Better
Emotional intelligence comes with practice. It’s not quite the same as the how-to-ride-a-bike analogy where once you’ve learned it, you’ll always remember how to go about it. Similar to guiding our kiddos on how to manage and express emotion at different stages of life, we as mommas are better equipped when we learn to do the same. Something that has helped me pin down and express how I’m feeling is using the emotion wheel to refine my vocabulary. The emotion wheel expands how to express a feeling.
Tip: Instead of saying, “I feel weird,” or even “I feel sad,” try saying, “I feel excluded,” or “I feel hurt.” You could hang an emotion wheel on the fridge or have it handy to see what other words you could use.
Manage Stress Well
Can we all agree that motherhood is stressful? Undeniably, stress is a factor in our identity as mothers. The majority of times, the amount of stress that comes our direction cannot be entirely controlled. There was a time during my first year of mothering where I was having multiple meltdowns a week and all my emotions snowpiled.
Self evaluation was key for me. We can self-evaluate our response to stress and modify our responses as needed. Regularly reflecting on how you respond to stressful situations is actually a way you increase your emotional intelligence. It’s not as complicated as we might think! Also, let’s note that stress is not a bad thing, but stress and emotions are linked. Increased emotional intelligence helps you focus on what you can control.
Tip: Try to take moments to self-evaluate your responses and practice new ones. If this means journaling, do it. Maybe you’re a verbal processor and prefer talking it out. Any way that works for you, self-evaluate and modify.
Increase Your Empathy
Increasing our EQ will help us empathize with our children more. It is not easy to manage emotions, and our children feel strongly. So when we do regularly practice skills to increase our EQ, we may start seeing tantrums differently. It’s so beneficial and reinforcing when our children observe how we respond to hiccups during the day, to setbacks, to not-nice people, etc. And it’s amazing when they see us at least trying; that’s something key to remember, TRYING.
There is no way we will always get it right with our emotions, and there is no way they will always get it right either. But knowing more about EQ gives us a different perspective on the grandiosity of emotions and how they do have their place in our lives.
Tip: Celebrate your attempts at trying even if they are not 100% wins.
There are many emotional intelligence tests that you can take. Something to keep in mind is that, depending on where we are in life (i.e. what stage, experiences we’ve been through, etc.), our results will be different. That is 100% normal. Similar to how a mom may be with baby #1 versus baby #2, past experiences beget different responses from each of us. You may take an EQ test next week, and then take one five years from now, and the results may be different. We approach situations uniquely, our communication strategies change, and our responses to circumstances shift.
Emotional Intelligence is our ability to be aware of, judiciously manage, and understand our emotions. It has nothing to do with book smarts or IQ, but it does require effort. It’s not complicated, it just has to be practiced. It helps us understand ourselves better, and it will benefit the next generation. How will you practice Emotional Intelligence? What are some ways this week you can incorporate EQ practice into your mothering?