Nearly eight decades ago, US President Franklin Roosevelt stated that people are “prisoners of their own minds” and have the power to “become free” at any time. This issue is bigger than ever when rage and rants are a major part of our everyday lives. This article is all about emotional self-awareness and filled with numerous examples of how you can train emotional self-awareness in order to grow as a person.
What is emotional self-awareness? It’s the ability to recognize and understand our own emotions. People with this skill can identify small differences in their emotions and are aware of how their emotions impact their behavior, performance, and decisions.
If you’re looking to learn more examples of emotional self-awareness and methods to recognize, learn and develop this skill: you’ve come to the right place!
- What makes emotional self-awareness so important?
- 4 Examples of emotional self-awareness
- 4 benefits of emotional self-awareness
- 6 ways to improve your emotional self-awareness
- Emotional intelligence and self-awareness
- Role in today’s world
A significant part of your happiness is a result of your personal outlook. Being aware of your own emotions and mindset is a vital step towards happiness. This is covered in-depth in the section Internal Happiness in the biggest guide on how to be happy available online.
What makes emotional self-awareness so important?
You can only change things that are happening in your mind if you’re aware of them. Emotional self-awareness provides insights into your world so you can benefit from the changes you make.
For example, you can benefit from learning who you are and how your buttons are pushed by different things.
Furthermore, emotional self-awareness allows you to recognize situations when emotions like fear, frustration, and anger start to control you. These emotions are obviously negative for your happiness.
Therefore, it’s critical to understand how your emotions will react to negative events. Then you will know what exactly triggers your emotional reactions.
4 Examples of emotional self-awareness
If the concept of emotional self-awareness is still a little vague for you, then let me help you. These are some rather common examples of emotional self-awareness, and I bet you’ll be able to recognize a few of them!
1. A manager that lacks emotional self-awareness
Let’s say there’s a manager working at a tech company who’s a bully but isn’t aware of it. He’s very competent at his job but lacks social skills. The manager doesn’t listen to his team members and gives special treatment to only people he likes.
Then, one day, some people confront this person about these issues. In a first reaction, the manager blames another person and gets angry at the accuser. He even blames the accuser for being part of the problem.
This is an example of a lack of emotional self-awareness. The bully manager is not aware of how his emotions are affecting his behavior and performance. That, in turn, is having a negative impact on his interactions with coworkers. He thinks he’s a victim of circumstance, which stops him from looking at the situation rationally.
This not only negatively affects the happiness of the manager himself, but also his coworkers. Just because someone pointed out a minor point of improvement.
2. Losing out on a job promotion
You and your colleague friend have been competing to receive a job promotion. Your friend ended up getting the promotion. You worked hard, but management made the decision that your friend should get the promotion.
At first, you’re disappointed you didn’t get the job. However, you then realize that your friend is happy about the promotion. So you decide that you’re also happy for him. You realize that it’s only good that your friend got the job instead of someone else.
You could have decided to be bitter and angry, but instead, you decided to find a positive angle. That requires a lot of emotional self-awareness, but will ultimately have a positive influence on your happiness.
3. An emotionally unaware and angry passenger
This is a fun example that happened to me some time ago when I flew back to the Netherlands from a weekend trip.
There was an angry passenger trying to get his ticket sorted at the counter. He became very angry because he thought the process was inefficient and was afraid he was going to miss his flight. This man wasn’t even aware of how upset he was. The entire line of people was just watching him go bananas at the poor lady behind the counter.
But more importantly, he was completely unaware of his tantrum and how it impacted the person he was yelling at.
And do you think his anger helped him get his anger sorted any faster? Nope. The lady tried her best to help him, but the man had crushed any sympathy she could have had for him by throwing a fit.
If he had been calmer and more diplomatic about the situation, he’d probably have his stuff sorted out much quicker.
4. Pointless road rage
The last example I want to show you is becoming more and more common nowadays: road rage.
It’s actually a perfect example of a lack of emotional self-awareness.
It happens more and more, as the traffic and stress of daily life seems to only increase. As a result, people become agitated in traffic, which results in a lot of mindless negativity.
Just search YouTube for the term “road rage” and you can watch hours of footage of people lacking emotional self-awareness.
I want to show you one of the most memorable examples I’ve ever seen. It’s quite long, but worth the watch! It might even make you laugh…
It’s sad to think about how this situation could’ve been easily avoided if one of these 2 gentlemen had a little more sense of emotional self-awareness.
I’m not saying who’s right or wrong here, I’m just saying that this situation could have easily been avoided by one of them.
Instead, you now have a situation where nobody wins.
That brings me to the next section of this article. What are the benefits of training your emotional self-awareness?
4 benefits of emotional self-awareness
So we’ve discussed some examples of emotional self-awareness. You should have a pretty clear idea of what this concept is about.
1. Better react to factors outside your control
This involves various situations like difficult coworkers, traffic jams, bad customer service, etc. In your life, you’re eventually going to be in a bad situation because of uncontrollable factors.
These situations are simply a part of life, but they can be quite stressful.
We like to think we have the power to choose when to get emotional during those situations.
It’s debatable whether or not we should be logical or emotional in these situations. However, the most important issue is being aware of our emotions and how they affect others.
For example, you might find yourself yelling at a rude or annoying coworker for whatever reason. Your feelings and emotions might, in fact, be “natural” in these situations. However, they can also have negative results, like the co-worker getting upset or you getting in trouble for throwing a fit.
You should know by now that a better approach is to get in touch with your emotions.
Why is this coworker making you upset? What’s the most logical way to deal with this annoying or rude coworker? Is there a way you can be less emotional in responding to the situation?
It may take a little more effort, but it will undeniably result in a better – long-term – result for yourself. You have to look at the bigger picture here.
Sure, getting angry at this coworker might satisfy your short-term needs (you’re angry!). But by getting in touch with your emotions and remaining calm, you can reach a far better result in the long term.
2. Facing and dealing with disappointments
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out the way we want.
It’s perfectly natural to feel upset when this happens. The key here is to take a mental inventory of how you feel. Think about how you’re feeling, the source of those feelings, and how those feelings are affecting you both physically and mentally.
Then it’s time to listen to your feelings. And I mean really listen.
This is critical since it will help you to gain insights into how to deal with feelings of disappointment. It doesn’t mean you have to be happy about your disappointments, but it will certainly help you to deal with the situation in a more effective way.
Because more often then not, disapointments are a result of high expectations.
- Could you have lowered your expectations before being disapointed?
- Were you a bit naive in hindsight?
- Can you learn something from your disapointment?
These are questions that all result in more emotional self-awareness. And the benefit here is that it allows you to deal with high expectations in the future.
We’ve written an entire article about how to deal with high expectations here.
3. Predicting the response of others
A large part of emotional self-awareness is being aware of our own emotions.
That includes recognizing, acknowledging, identifying, accepting, and reflecting on the feeling that we experience. As we know now, this is a complex and difficult process, but critical for getting in touch with our emotions.
However, this process also improves our ability to forecast feelings. And it just so happens that that skill can be used on our own emotions but also on that of others! As we become better at forecasting our own feelings, we also get better at figuring out how other people will feel as well.
More specifically, we realize that others will likely have the same feelings as we do in certain situations. If we experience sadness in certain situations, then it’s likely others will experience this feeling as well.
By being aware of this, you can better position yourself in relation to others.
Here’s an easy example:
You and your friend are late for a concert. You start feeling a bit angry and impatient. It makes sense, right?
Chances are your friend is feeling the exact same emotions. And he wants to vent about it. “Stupid traffic this!” and “Stupid red lights!”
Instead of jumping on the negativity bandwagon, you can now position yourself better in order to reach a more positive mindset together. Instead of allowing yourself to get angry as well, you can choose to think about positive things instead.
And you can now try to turn your – still angry – friend on that same positivity bandwagon. You can probably see how this creates a better and happier situation for the both of you, right?
4. Higher emotional intelligence
The key is to do an accurate self-assessment to get the biggest emotional intelligence (EI) boosts.
To put it another way, it’s important for a person to have a very precise understanding of how their feelings affect their behavior, performance, and mood. They should also be aware of how these things affect others’ moods.
It’s also important for people to think about their strengths and weaknesses in terms of their emotional intelligence What am I good at? In what situations do my emotions get out of hand more easily? There are various measurement tools you can use to determine the answer to these questions.
We’ll talk more about these tools later!
Anyway, another great benefit of a higher emotional intelligence is that it helps to create an environment in which you can receive honest feedback better.
Instead of getting angry about constructive feedback, you can decide to accept it for what it is: good feedback. Even though your emotions are pushing you into an angry mindset, you can recognize this and then stop it from happening.
That’s a win-win!
That’s because people are concerned about your personal and professional development and instead of blocking their potentially painful words, you can accept them as lessons and use them to grow as a person. This way, you and your peers can grow as a whole, without any negative emotions.
6 ways to improve your emotional self-awareness
Now that you’ve seen all these examples and benefits of emotional self-awareness, you might be thinking: how can I develop this skill?
This section shows actionable and practical methods on how to improve your emotional self-awareness right away!
1. Keep a diary
The main benefit of maintaining a journal or diary is that it puts your thoughts onto paper. We can then read and study what we’ve written, which can, in turn, result in better awareness of our emotions.
The journal/diary should center not only on what you’re feeling but also what you’re thinking. It can even address issues like your beliefs and weaknesses.
Interestingly, there are studies that find that people who maintain a journal have a better-developed sense of emotional self-awareness.
It may seem that maintaining a journal isn’t enough to boost emotional self-awareness. The key is to maintain it in an effective way. A good option is to write your thoughts and feelings on issues that have had a big effect on your life.
This isn’t an easy task and can cause some short-term stress. However, experts explain that in the long-term this approach can result in a better mood.
Do you want to know yourself and your emotions better? You’ve made it this far in this article, so you probably should by now!
If so, then one of the best options is meditation. In fact, this practice has been effective for some of the world’s most successful and influential people.
You can meditate in various ways to achieve better self-awareness of your emotions. Some of the best times to meditate are in the early morning and right before bedtime. This is when your mind is clearer, so it’s easier to focus on how you feel.
Meditation is effective for self-awareness because it requires us to stop thinking for a while.
You should know that meditation comes in a lot of shapes and forms. You don’t have to do traditional meditation, sitting on a chair with your eyes closed. There are other forms that work just as well, like walking in the park, tending your garden, or listening to some quiet music.
Research shows meditation can provide many health benefits in addition to emotional self-awareness. They include lower stress levels, a better immune system, and more stable mental health.
We’ve written a complete article about the benefits of meditation here!
3. Practice yoga
This might not be for everyone, but practicing yoga can be an excellent way to get more in touch with your emotions.
Yoga can be used in different ways. It can be a spiritual practice and also a type of exercise. The process involves using stretches and muscle flexibility with deep breathing. You can use different variations for different goals. By doing so, you can learn more about your personality, motives, character, passions, and desires.
It’s also obviously good for your physical health. This way, you can kill two birds with one stone, so to say! 😉
If you need more convincing, we recently published this in-depth post on how yoga can improve your mental well-being.
4. Slow down!
What does eating or walking slowly have to do with emotional self-awareness? It’s about slowing down for a brief moment. This allows us to focus more on things like how we feel, which is something we tend to forget in our busy lives.
You can do some basic things like taking a walk in the park or just sit in front of your window to look outside. You could also spend a whole hour eating your meal.
In fact, studies show that slow movement not only can benefit your mind but also your body. In fact, Psychology Today reports that more pain clinics are now offering slow movement as a self-awareness therapy.
Does this mean it’s time to cancel your gym membership? Not really, but some studies show that slow movement (including yoga!) can help reduce depression, pain, and disability.
Not convinced yet?
Slowing down for even a part of the day can allow us to focus on awareness of our emotions. Instead of gobbling down meals and rushing around all day looking at the next meetings on your smartphone, try taking it slow for a while.
Why does it work? Experts don’t fully understand the process, but slow movement provides benefits related to more relaxation and less stress. This, in turn, allows you to focus more on your current emotional state.
And by now, you should be acquainted with the many benefits of being emotionally self-aware!
5. Breath deeply
Breath deeply? What?
As simple as it may sound, this technique has a lot of unseen benefits.
In fact, activities like meditation and yoga often focus on the process of deep breathing. This can be effective in clearing your mind, which in turn allows you to focus better on your current emotional state.
People take an average of about 23,000 breaths/day. We don’t think much about breathing while we’re awake. Deep breathing exercises can allow you to live in the moment and focus on how and why you have certain emotions.
6. Talk with a counselor or therapist
Talking to a therapist or counselor can help you become better aware of your feelings and thoughts. They are trained to help their patients get in touch with their emotions.
For example, we often try to avoid negative emotions, which may be caused by things from our past experiences. A professional therapist/counselor will have the know-how and skills to help patients figure out how they’re truly feeling.
In essence, these people have mastered the art of emotional self-awareness. They have such a deep knowledge of emotions and self-awareness that they’re able to help you develop your own version of this skill! This is just one of the benefits, which you can read more about in this article.
Emotional intelligence and self-awareness
As you might have noticed, there are a lot of similarities between self-awareness, emotional intelligence and being emotionally self-aware.
How are they similar/different?
While emotional intelligence (EI) and self-awareness are similar, there are some clear differences.
Emotional intelligence is a broad term that refers to different abilities related to perceiving emotions accurately and providing an appropriate and effective response.
It involves different abilities, including recognizing your feelings and others’ feelings and distinguishing different emotions.
Emotional self-awareness, on the other hand, is related to the ability to know what you’re thinking or feeling. The overlap of these two terms is that self-awareness is needed to recognize and name your feelings.
Then there’s self-actualization. This is the ability to use your abilities in the best way possible. Self-awareness is needed to achieve self-actualization. The former is involved since you must recognize your gifts and determine how effectively you’re using them.
Role in today’s world
Developing self-awareness in order to boost emotional intelligence is increasingly important in today’s world. Here’s why:
When you understand your emotions, you then are able to control them instead of them controlling you. This is critical in the modern world when everyday life can result in stressful situations.
Nearly eight decades ago US President Franklin Roosevelt stated that people are “prisoners of their own minds” and have the power to “become free” at any time. This advice is more important than ever when rage and rants are a major part of our everyday lives.
Instead of being a prisoner of this negativity, we should be able to free our minds and focus on more positive things instead!
After reading this post, you should know that you can take control of your thoughts and emotions! And this skill is called emotional self-awareness. As you now know, this skill can help us respond appropriately to any situation we’re in. When you recognize and understand your feelings/emotions better, you can also understand your thoughts and actions better. This prevents destructive results from inappropriate responses.