Emotional Intelligence is the one life skill that many great leaders possess. Someone with a high emotional IQ can navigate the waters of all life situations. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions as well as those around you. People often forget how important their emotional IQ is. Some of us, undervalue it, we focus on other things, or we figure that it’s not that important. But it is! It’s very important to develop and grow your emotional IQ.

The best way to grow your emotional IQ is to do so gradually. Slow deliberate changes is a great method to bring about lasting changes in your life. Focusing on areas of your emotional IQ that can be improved takes time and diligence. That’s why it’s important to practice emotional awareness all the time, not just when we think something is already wrong.

Here are some ways you can improve your emotional IQ.

First Ask Yourself How You Are Feeling

Being aware of our own emotions can be very similar to being aware of other people’s emotions. Doing so you can avoid stressful situation by evaluating your feelings before you react. Checking your own emotional wellness is done the same way you the check emotional wellness of others: by asking. When other people ask you how you are doing, it can be most efficient and polite to just say “okay” or “fine” but if you literally ask yourself you may reply with something a little more informative. You don’t have to carry on a whole conversation with yourself, but if you ask yourself “How are you doing?” and you respond with “Well, I’ve been better,” it might be something to spend more time thinking about.

Second, become comfortable talking about your own feelings

So many people find it hard to talk about their feelings. But verbalizing how you’re feeling is one the best ways to evaluate your emotional IQ. Consider stating how you feel with statements like “I’m not comfortable with,” or “that makes me frustrated.” This method of expressing your own feelings will help you focus and think more about how you feel and how you react to things, but it also will help other people to understand how you are feeling.

It’s important to keep focused on the topic and try not to get distracted. When your “I’s” get too close together it can become rude, but it may also distort your outlook.

Third Practice Mindfulness

The practice of mindfulness will encourage you to be aware of your thoughts and feelings, as well as how they make you feel physically. Your body can become tense, your muscles tighten, and you start breathing rapidly. Mindfulness exercises that focus on your breath and breathing are a great way to relieve stress and get you back on track.

Another key attribute of mindfulness is being aware of your current state of mind. Staying present is a great way to control your emotions. Often people find themselves focused on everything but the present. Practicing yoga, and various breathing exercises can help you over home your emotions and gain control of your feelings.

The fourth way you can manage your emotional IQ is to Meditate

Many people are reluctant to get into meditation because it often has religious connotations. While the oldest forms of meditation are explicitly religious, more modern forms of meditation focus exclusively on the secular benefits of meditation. Related to but slightly different from mindfulness, mediation involves taking a part of the day, as little as a few minutes, to clear your mind.

Clearing your mind can bring its own benefits, although it is very difficult. Recognizing what thoughts or feelings make it difficult to clear your mind can help you to recognize which things in your life are giving you the most trouble.

As was the case with mindfulness, there are a lot of great resources online regarding meditation, but the best place to start may be a friendly conversation with your primary care provider.

Finally, you can write as a method to increase your emotional intelligence.

Many people who journal find it helpful to express themselves privately. Writing can be very therapeutic. You can write daily, or when you need to express yourself. Documenting your experiences can be a tool to see areas of growth in your life. Writing can help you to express your feelings in a safe and healthy way but re-reading your own work can also help you to see your own experiences from a new perspective. This can help you to understand your feelings and can allow you to identify creative solutions to your problems.