Any day of the week something unexpected may happen at work with the potential to undermine your confidence, making your throat tight, your blood pound, or your stomach drop. It may even end up on your “highlight reel” at night when you want to sleep. It can play with your head until you can’t stand yourself.
This happens to everyone. So, why then does it sometimes feel like everyone but you are walking around the picture of self-confidence?
The solution can be found in emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is “the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage your emotions” (Dr. Susan Albers); even if you don’t consider yourself an “emotional” person, emotions provide the compass for your actions and behaviours.
Let me be clear, you do not have to wear your heart on your sleeve to take advantage of emotional intelligence. This is how you can use your emotions to support your confidence through self-awareness.
First, you need to know when you are experiencing an emotion; not always an easy task as none of us got the “Emotions 101” class at school. Emotions are experienced as a sensation in your body before they become clear in your mind, it’s the reason you blush before you may even know you feel embarrassed.
So, if your body gets the message before you do, paying attention to the subtle sensations you experience during the day empowers you to be more able to manage your behavioural compass before it hijacks you (emotional self-awareness). It’s recognizing that being cut off by your boss in a meeting upset you and as a result your jaw tightened; without recognizing this emotional trigger (being cut-off and then your jaw tightening) you are living with unwelcome feelings throughout the day. Your brain then spends a lot of energy trying to continue to function …while also trying to process being upset …while trying to make everything look “fine”. It’s like swimming in deep water with one arm tied behind your back. How confident are you about making it to shore?
The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to name what you are feeling, and the closer you are to naming that feeling at its origin, the more able you are to support your needs through self-awareness. Here’s an example of not catching the emotion:
Can you relate? Getting closer to the point of emotional origin supports strong decision making, even during a confidence crisis - to do that you need to leverage your emotional intelligence and catch it as it is happening:
How is your confidence doing now? Being in touch with your emotions gives you options, so you don’t need to live with uncertainty or the upset that erodes your self-regard. Even if your boss interrupts you again in the future, you now have a means to address it, and over time you have the tools to make it happen less often.
This is how emotional intelligence increases your self-awareness and self-confidence.