Updated: Apr 9, 2019
The Self-Perception realm of the EQ-i 2.0 model of emotional intelligence, is comprised of 3 sub-scales: self-regard, self-actualization, and emotional self-awareness.
Within this particular realm it's all about you - your inside - how you see yourself - understanding your own emotions - knowing how your emotions manifest themselves physically - how you think about your emotions - knowing your strengths and weaknesses - your desire to focus on self-development and pursue higher meaning.
This realm can be difficult for some because it can be thought of as 'selfish'. But self-care is not selfish. It is necessary and this is the required first step in emotional intelligence development.
These are 3 strategies that you can start to apply today to improve your self-perception. Moving the needle on knowing who you really are, impacts all other realms and sub-scales of emotional intelligence. Pick no more than 1 strategy to try every week so that you set yourself up for success. As you add a strategy, continue the one you started the week before. By the time you get to the 5th strategy, you'll have been working on yourself for a month during which I guarantee you'll have learned something you hadn't known before.
Strategy #1: Watch yourself like a hawk with laser vision.
This is my personal favourite strategy and the one strategy that helped me the most when identifying my ego.
Picture a hawk in it's natural habitat. When you happen to see one, it's high up in the sky, looking down at it's prey. Watching closely, intently, thinking and waiting to make it's move.
Stepping our from yourself to be the 'hawk' provides you with an opportunity to watch yourself objectively. During this strategy the goal is to document what you saw yourself doing, specific behaviours, and the thoughts that went along with them. Documentation allows you to then reflect on the actions and behaviours and think objectively about them. When you have the opportunity to sit with yourself objectively, you avoid the misdirection that emotions can create.
This strategy requires that you have a notebook that you carry with you during the week so that you can write down all of your interactions and experiences (ones you identify/label as good and bad).
This strategy also requires that you then allocate yourself daily reflection time to look back on each of these moments and consider the bigger picture that you aren't often able to see in the eye of the storm; furthering your understanding of your emotions and your behaviours. Understanding allows you the opportunity to break things to WHY you are behaving the way that you are. Discovering your triggers is critical to stopping your reaction to them.
Strategy #2: Stop labeling your emotions and figure out how they 'feel'.
If you had a similar childhood to mine, you were taught that certain emotions are good and certain emotions are bad. And the bad emotions you should't feel.
"You shouldn't be mad at Johnny for taking your ball; that's not nice." And so not only did you learn that anger is bad, you also learned that you shouldn't feel anger (a.k.a suppress it).
This strategy can be very challenging to unlearn depending upon how deep rooted your learning's are.
First you need to agree that your emotions are neither good nor bad. They are emotions. That's all.
Second you need to agree that you are allowed to experience emotions. This allows you to then sit with them to understand them. Sitting with your emotions allows them to run their course.
Third you need to work towards understanding the cause of the emotion itself. Understanding your emotions allows you to resolve them!
The internal dialogue sounds like this.
"Ugh, I'm so angry!"
"Right..anger. Usually I would feel badly about being angry because anger used to be a bad emotion, but today I acknowledge that anger is just anger."
"Okay...just sit with the anger. What do I notice about my body? I'm hot, my throat is tight, it's actually my face that is hot, and my stomach is clenched. Huh! So that's what my body feels like when I'm angry. Cool."
...as the physical sensations of anger dissipate...
"Okay...now why did I respond with anger? Let's dig into this."
Tracking how each of your emotions manifests itself physically is a key ingredient. Because you will always physically feel your emotions before being able to identify them, the better you are in tune with your physical self the faster you will be able to identify your emotional state, name your emotion and then use your emotional information effectively.
Strategy #3: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The hardest part with improving the self-perception realm (increasing your self-awareness) is seeing yourself as you truly are. It's painful, uncomfortable, it stings.
It's your truth. For now. And you have the power to change your truth. That's the hope. Hope is a tremendous driver for change.
Start by deciding that you WILL move into your emotions.
Promise yourself that when you are experiencing any emotion you will LEAN in - rather than avoid. Ignoring your emotions only makes them surface more intensely and more frequently until you deal with them. It's like Oprah said "At first, you get hit upside the head with a pebble. Then a rock. Then a boulder. Until you pay attention. Life has a way of getting your attention."
So perhaps today you ignore being irritated because the dishes were left on the counter. You dismiss the emotion.
Tomorrow your irritation becomes anger and you mumble under your breath and close the cupboards loudly. Continuing to suppress or dismiss your emotions.
The following day you lash out at your son-daughter-husband-coworker (anyone and everyone) because you're in a rage; having not dealt with your irritation. This is an unproductive path that will repeat itself over and over again when you fail to acknowledge your emotions early.
Once you start to lean into the discomfort of feeling your emotions, you will recognize that the discomfort:
(1) isn't as bad as you thought
(2) doesn't last as long as you thought
(3) doesn't ruin you