Emotional intelligence or, EQ as it is commonly called, is the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions. It is how you overcome challenges and identify triggers that threaten to impact your day-to-day. It is being in control of your emotions so that you can healthily express them. As well as understanding the art of honoring your feelings without being overwhelmed. But being emotionally intelligent doesn't just apply to oneself. It is also being in tune with the feelings of those around you and showing compassion when needed.
Having a strong sense of emotional intelligence allows for individuals to easily adapt to change, navigate difficult conversations, and build strong, healthy relationships. Further allowing them to conquer their goals while making better, more informed decisions. Turning their intentions into action.
For some, having a high EQ comes effortlessly. They are naturally empathetic when it comes to the needs of both themselves and the people around them. The moment they feel something amiss, they automatically spring into action. They are the ones who express themselves effortlessly, often speak up for those who cannot, and consider how their actions will impact others.
However, not everyone is born emotionally intelligent. Those with a low EQ often lack accountability, have poor social skills, and are self-centered. They are the ones who struggle with managing their emotions, often resulting in unpredictable outbursts. And are also the ones who lack empathy, are quick to judge, and are most likely to say or do the wrong things at the wrong time.
But whether it is with friends, family, or romantic partners, at work or in leadership, being emotionally intelligent is necessary for building relationships, managing stress, and improving overall satisfaction. So for those who struggle with emotional intelligence, here are five steps towards improvement.
Beyond being cognizant of your emotions, self-awareness is understanding the effects of your thoughts, moods, and actions on others. It is getting to the why behind your behaviors and being open to learning how to correct them. Self-awareness is also having confidence, learning how to be comfortable in your skin, having the ability to laugh at your mistakes, and being open to new experiences.
Ways to improve self-awareness are journaling, meditation, practicing mindfulness, and goal-setting.
This is where you learn how to control your impulses. Self-regulation is thinking before speaking and making well-informed decisions. Simply put, it's finding the appropriate way to express yourself. Self-regulation is holding yourself accountable and being flexible at the onset of change. As well as being mindful of the influence that you may have on others.
Ways to improve self-regulation include practicing communication, rethinking how you view obstacles, being conscious of your feelings, and finding different approaches when your emotions get the best of you.
When it comes to being emotionally intelligent, motivation is the desire to self-improve. It is being committed to seeing things from conception to completion, even in the face of adversity. It's being action-oriented. Always striving for better and being quick to take initiative.
Ways to become more motivated are establishing small, measurable goals, finding accountability partners, and celebrating your wins, especially the small ones.
Valuing one's individual experiences. Sharing in someone's feelings. Appreciating the perspectives of others. Those are all examples of empathy. Being empathetic is both being interested in someone's concerns and anticipating how they will respond in difficult situations. Empathy is also understanding power dynamics and their influence on various relationships.
Ways to become more empathetic are listening to understand and not to respond, being vulnerable, and imagining how you would feel if the roles were reversed.
5. Social SkillsGiphy
Being able to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and manage relationships are all characteristics of social skills. Social skills look at what it takes to create and maintain bonds with others. It's finding that common ground and developing a strong rapport with those you interact with regularly. Social skills also assist with developing a stronger relationship with oneself.
Ways to improve on your social skills include acknowledging the skill sets of others, showing interest in what people bring to the table, and being mindful of body language as well as other forms of nonverbal communication.
At the end of the day, becoming emotionally intelligent, like most forms of self-improvement, is a marathon, not a sprint. As we are all continuously evolving into better beings, there will be times where we won't be as emotionally intelligent as we think. And that's OK.
What's most important is that we give ourselves grace, remain open to correction, and when all else fails, return to the first step in becoming emotionally intelligent. Because it always starts and stops with you.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports