In this activity you will learn how your emotions work so you can develop your emotional intelligence (EQ).
Understanding how your emotions work is very important.
It is important for a number of reasons.
- 1How you feel each day helps to determine the quality of your life and we all want to live as happy a life as possible, right?
- 2Your emotional intelligence (EQ), is actually a much better predictor of your future success than IQ!
- 3Having a strong EQ is a nice way to future-proof yourself when you are looking for a career. EQ is one of the few skill sets that algorithms, robots, technology and AI will struggle to replace.
So, how do you develop your EQ?
Before we show you how, it's worth understanding the definition of EQ: this from PsychCentral:
"Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in an effective and positive way. A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges."
This activity will help you to identify, use, understand, and manage your emotions and in order to do that properly, you need to understand how your emotions are made.
how emotions are made
Most of us think of emotions as something that are outside of our control, when something happens to us circuits in our brains are triggered and we feel a particular emotion depending on what has happened.
For example you see a big scary lion and you feel fear.
However, the latest research in neuroscience (the study of how our nervous system works) suggests the opposite, emotions aren't triggered- we create them instead.
Sounds strange, right?
Well it's to do with how our nervous system works, especially the most important bit: the brain.
the nervous system
By Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10187018
Your body is very important to your brain, without your body your brain wouldn't be able to work.
So keeping your body alive and well is your brain's most important job.
It couldn't possibly do this properly if it was reacting to what happens.
Instead it is constantly trying to predict (or guess) what your body needs.
These predictions are formulated super-quickly using 3 building blocks, or as we call them: INPUTS.
- 1The physical sensations you feel.
- 2Your surroundings- where you are and what you are doing.
- 3Your past experiences- 'last time this happened I felt sad/happy/stressed' etc...
Here's an example:
- 1The physical sensations you feel: sweaty palms, shortness of breath, butterflies in your stomach, heart racing
- 2Your surroundings: you are in an school hall, about to take an important exam
- 3Your past experiences: last time this happened I felt 'nervous' and 'anxious'
Based on these 3 building blocks or INPUTS, your brain determines that you feel 'nervous and anxious'.
how does this information help us?
Well, it means that you are more in control of your emotions than you might think- see diagram below.
- 1Your brain receives the 3 INPUTS - physical sensations, information about your surroundings, and past experiences
- 2Your brain then makes PREDICTIONS, which help to generate your emotions
- 3Your emotions are EXPRESSED through your thoughts, your words, and your actions
- 4These expressions- your thoughts, words and actions- directly affect the RESULTS that you get.
As you can see, the brain is reliant upon the quality of the INPUTS it receives, and this presents us with a problem.
Most of us are very VAGUE when we describe our emotional experience.
We often use simple terms such as I'm feeling 'good', 'bad', or 'fine', when in fact, what we feel is much more SPECIFIC than that.
Here's an example using the feeling 'BAD'.
Simply saying "I'm feeling BAD." is like going to the doctor and saying you feel 'pain', how could the doctor possibly prescribe the right medicine to help you feel better?
BAD as an INPUT is too vague- are you a tired, busy, bored or a stressed kind of BAD?
Let's say you are a 'STRESSED' kind of BAD, this is more useful, but are you OVERWHELMED or CHAOTIC?
You feel OVERWHELMED, great, you can now prescribe the medicine you need to help you feel better.
You might take a break, or ask for help, or decide to focus on just one thing at a time.
Solutions that wouldn't be obvious by just saying "I'm feeling BAD".
the really important bit
When you are SPECIFIC and ACCURATE about how you are feeling:
Your activity is designed to:
- 1Help you to practice getting more specific with how you feel, to provide a more accurate emotional experience today as well as more accurate future INPUTS.
- 2Help you to broaden your EQ vocabulary- as with any language, the more words you know, the better you can express yourself.
- 3Help you to explore your emotions so you can learn strategies that will help you to feel better.
specific emotion selector
We have created a SPECIFIC EMOTION SELECTOR that helps you to get nice and SPECIFIC with your emotions.
The SPECIFIC EMOTION SELECTOR has 3 levels of emotions:
- 1Main emotions: capitalised in a black box e.g. HAPPY
- 22nd level: in the darker coloured box e.g. playful
- 33rd level: lighter colour and different font aroused / cheeky.
In the activity you will use this selector in a number of different ways.
Stick it on your wall by the breakfast table or where you can see it every day, so you can practice getting nice and specific with your emotions.
We have based our emotion selector on the fabulous emotional wheel of Geoffrey Roberts- his version can be found here.