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Five Steps Towards Becoming Emotionally Intelligent

Being emotionally intelligent doesn't just apply to oneself.

Wellness

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.

1. Self-Awareness

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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.

2. Self-Regulation

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.

3. Motivation

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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.

4. Empathy

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 Skills

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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.

Featured image by Getty Images

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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