Stress is on the rise impacting young and old. So what can we do to help foster a peaceful climate at home?
Turn Inward: Throughout the day, most of us experience an assortment of emotions and thoughts that come and go, all influencing the way we interact with others. Many of us learn to ignore, stuff, and push feelings aside. Unfortunately, that’s a dangerous practice. Emotions are important data points helping us understand situations. For example, the feeling of anger helps us recognize that a problem exists.
It is important to note there is no such thing as good feelings or bad feelings. All feelings provide value. It’s how we respond or react to the feeling that can influence a result. Learning to be smart with feelings and thoughts will lead to greater connections in relationships while lowering stress.
Identify and name your feelings throughout the day. What clues are feeling providing? Pay attention to how feelings influence your thoughts and actions. For a starter list of emotions go to www.eqcoaching.net/enhance-emotional-literacy/.
When you are unable to navigate your emotions, you can find yourself reacting to things on autopilot. Take this scenario as an example.
After a hard day at work that left you feeling frustrated and under-appreciated you arrive home to hear the TV blasting while your son plays video games. The kitchen is also a disaster because your daughter is making cookies for her boyfriend. You immediately snap.
Neuroscience helps us to understand that a perceived threat sends a physical reaction throughout the body (i.e. heart racing, tense muscles, etc.) resulting in an autopilot reaction such as snapping in the heat of the moment. Interestingly, waiting for six seconds and engaging the thinking part of your brain can help you move from simply reacting to intentionally choosing how you want to respond.
Pay attention to the auto-pilot reactions you have throughout the day and challenge yourself to count to six (or even 60!) before responding. During that time, identify your feelings and thoughts. Challenge yourself to think about options and consequences before responding.
Learn to Use Empathy: As you move towards being intentional with a response, seek to understand others with empathy.
Practice using empathy with these five steps.
- Take a six second pause.
- Consider how your thoughts and feelings are influencing your view. Suspend judgment.
- Consider the possible feelings the other person may be experiencing and their right to them.
- Listen and practice mirroring what you are hearing (both thoughts and emotions) in your own words.
- Seek to understand and show interest with your response: “What has that been like for you? How has that made you feel? That must have been hard.”
Studies show that developing emotional intelligence leads to healthier relationships, less stress, improved effectiveness and greater life satisfaction. The best thing is it’s never too late to start developing these skills for a happier home.
About the Author: Kelli Schulte, certified coach and consultant at EQuip Studios, helps individuals and organizations grow in their emotional intelligence so they experience greater self-awareness, connection with others and impact. She is also the Chicago Area Network Leader with Six Seconds, the world’s largest community dedicated to spreading best practices for using emotional intelligence. Learn more about Kelli at EQcoaching.net.