Growing up, my education was very important to me, mostly because I lived in a house with two adults who were teachers.
Education is something that can change the world by changing an individual’s world; it is something not all are privileged to receive – however in my 13 years of education, that I am deeply grateful for, I didn’t feel as though I learnt the fundamental lessons that we all need to learn.
At school, we learn how to tell the time, how to add and subtract, we learn about the world and different cultures, about words and their meanings, about the power of stories, we learn about business and politics and even art and music and physical health.
In Psychology, I learnt about the ego and the Id, but even in a class that is dedicated to understanding what goes on inside humans, we didn’t learn how to understand and love who we are.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE?
It’s the ability to understand emotions, thoughts and feelings within yourself and others.
Sounds simple, right?
Well, it’s really not. Like all skills, you need to learn them first, either through formal education, personal experience or life lessons.
I’ve worked with people from all walks of life for over 10 years now and what I’ve learnt most of all is that people struggle deeply to understand who they are, what they are feeling and what they want from life.
In an effort to pass on some of my knowledge about emotional intelligence, here are some ideas, tools and questions you can take and do with them what you please.
I hope they help you to understand who you are and make you feel good about who that is, because that is actually pretty rare.
IS YOUR INNER CRITIC AT PLAY?
Something most of us didn’t learn at school was about the Inner-Critic or as it’s often called in recent years our Self-Talk; the voice inside your head, the one that puts you down.
The inner-critic is your worst self, it speaks from a place of fear.
It tells you:
- You aren’t good enough
- No one cares about you
- You look ugly
- You’ll never find love
- You’re stupid
- You’ll never get that job
- Plus many other horrible things you would never say to your best-friend
So, how do we change our self-talk from hindering to helpful?
We have to first recognize when it’s in action; we have to be mindful and take note of when our inner voice is being mean and damaging to our self-esteem and self-love.
Once we notice it, we can ask ourselves “do I want to continue thinking this thought or do I want to let it go?”
If our answer is that we want to let this thought go, we need to replace it with something else.
For example, for a long time my inner-critic would tell me I was stupid, that I was dumb, especially while I as at university trying to complete assessments.
After years of self-doubt, I decided I was no longer going to think this thought, so I replaced it with “just give it a go, do your best, see what happens” or sometimes “you are clever, you can do this, I believe in you”.
WHAT DOES SELF-LOVE ACTUALLY MEAN?
Self-love has gotten a bit of a bad reputation of late, it’s all bubble baths and champagne and expensive spa days. But, this is only one very small, very expensive part of self-love.
Self-love at its core is free; it doesn’t cost a thing, just your time and your commitment.
Self-love is taking the time to work on you, meaning your mind, body and soul.
You can go to the gym every day and eat healthy, but if you aren’t also focusing on what’s going on inside of yourself, then you aren’t really practicing self-love or healthy habits.
For me, self-love meant two years of therapy to work through stuff, the stuff we all have but few of us admit or acknowledge.
Currently, it means writing, getting my thoughts out of me and onto paper – there is plenty of research to confirm that when we write down how we feel and then read it back to ourselves, it has less control over us.
For me, it also means practicing yoga and swimming 2-3 times a week and walking my dog every single day.
It’s allowing myself to forgive others who have hurt me but to also forgive myself. It’s constantly working on who I am, improving myself and my belief system, challenging my inner-critic and loving myself even on my bad days.
What does self-love mean to you? Go on, write about it…
USING MANTRAS, MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION AS A TOOL
The 3 M’s are a way of life, a lifestyle and a healthy habit. You can’t have one without the others.
Mantras or affirmations, link to much of what I spoke about earlier in regards to the inner-critic.
They are short statements that you say to yourself daily to make yourself feel good and to challenge your negative self-talk.
I have about 8 mantras that I say to myself every day. I use different ones, depending on how I feel on that day.
Some of them include:
- All that I am looking for is already within me
- I am beautiful
- I am calm and grounded
- My life is filled with love
- I have faith in myself and my abilities.
To be able to practice our mantras, we need to be mindful about what we are doing, how we are feeling and what’s going on inside our inner world. This takes work, commitment and most of all consistency when it comes to practising meditation.
It is when our mind and body is still and quiet that our inner-world gets to rest, and when we rest and embrace the quiet, we are given the fuel to be mindful in our waking, life-living moments.
For more info on meditation, try downloading apps like Calm, Oak, Headspace or Smiling Mind.
INJECTING SELF-LOVE INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
We all have habits and routines, some that we are aware of and others that are just subconsciously there.
For me, the first thing I do in the morning is stretch while still in bed, give my dog a kiss and then get up and make myself a cup of tea. This is a habit or a routine that is pretty consistent in my life.
Think about some of the habits and routines in your daily and weekly life. Are there things you do everyday without fail? Or something you make sure you do once or twice a week?
Why not implement self-love as a routine in your daily life?
This could mean practicing meditation every morning or spending 15 minutes before bed writing and reflecting upon your day.
It could mean keeping a gratitude journal that you write in every day or like me, a list on your phone that you constantly add to when you are grateful for something or someone.
You could make sure you practice your mantras every morning while you’re in the shower or you could make sure you connect with those around you and spend quality time with your loved ones – anything that makes you feel good about yourself – do that and do it often.