top of page

A Practical Look at Emotional Self-Management

Part 3 of 4

We are once again exploring the concept of emotional intelligence. As we learnt in Part 1, it is an individual's ability to identify, understanding and manage his/her emotions, and the emotions of others. [1] If we think about our emotions like fire, we understand that it has the potential for great benefit and danger. When a fire is under control, it can be used to heat food, warm a room in a fireplace and light up a room. When left uncontrolled, fires can damage properties, landscapes and lives. When we have such powerful God-given tools as our emotions, it is helpful to understand them and know how best to use them to help ourselves and others.

In last week's post, we talked about the first part of growing in emotional intelligence, which is becoming more emotionally self-aware. In today's post, we will show how this awareness empowers us to control how we react to our circumstances and others. Remember, you can be successful with emotional intelligence.

In our opening blog for the emotional intelligence series, we shared a story of a lost little boy at a train station, asking a uniformed attendant for help. The attendant helped him find his way home and did something very important, so that he would not be lost again. He highlighted a landmark. So in the future, when the little boy sees the landmark, he will know that his destination is close by.

Emotional Self-Management

We can apply this same principle to managing or controlling our emotions. When we name our emotions accurately (as we learned in Part 2), it becomes a landmark, signalling to us that a destination is close by. That destination could be a habit, pattern or way of reacting that usually follows that emotion. Emotional self-management allows us to choose a new destination. It teaches us to pause, assess what is happening, examine our historical tendencies and unmet desires in the present moment, then choose how we are going to respond.

Here's a practical example of emotional self-management at work:

Trigger: My boss is micromanages me on a work project.

Landmark: I feel annoyed.

Destination: I tend to make sarcastic comments to individuals who annoy me.

Emotional self-management: I am feeling annoyed right now because it seems as if my boss does not trust me to deliver on my work. I know I am usually passive aggressive in these situations, but I don't have to react in this way because it would undermine our professional relationship. I will take some time to think about this, and when I am not feeling this way, I can practise to communicate openly with this individual.

New Destination: I tell my boss that I understand how important this project is, and respectfully ask that we agree on set timelines for me to give updates.

The feeling of annoyance led to an outcome of more open and assertive communication. It's because the individual decided to control his/her emotions, and not allow the emotion to control him/her. Emotions are not "bad", just as fire is not "bad" -- we gain the most benefit from our emotions when we understand them and know how to manage them.


[1] Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman



bottom of page