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Strengthen Your Emotional Fitness for a Joyful Life

In today's world, the emphasis is often on physical fitness and mental acuity. However, a critical component of our well-being that often gets overlooked is our emotional intelligence (EQ). When was the last time someone asked you, "Are you going to the emotional fitness gym today?" Probably never.

Just as working out at the gym strengthens our muscles and yoga enhances our flexibility, boosting our EQ can significantly improve the quality of our lives and relationships. Boosting your emotional fitness can help you create a happier, more fulfilling and joyful life.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A young woman showing emotional literacy and different moods and feelings.

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Motivated to Build Emotional Fitness?

Even though we hear a lot about emotional intelligence, very few know how to develop it deliberately. Just like your trainer at the gym gives you specific exercises to build different muscle groups, we can focus on different emotional muscles, too.

At its core, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our emotions. And then also to recognize, understand, and influence the emotions of others.

Imagine navigating life's ups and downs with a sense of calm, understanding, and resilience. Or imagine a loving relationship without tension or arguments.

Sound too good to be true?

Well, it's possible with some practice.

By introducing emotional fitness exercises regularly, you'll see the benefits quickly. Make them as routine as your morning coffee and positive habits are born!

Because nothing grows without attention and effort, what you put in is what you get out!

Related reading: "Boost Your Emotional Intelligence: 5 Essential Keys to Emotional Literacy."

The Cornerstones of Emotional Fitness: Self-Awareness and Self-Management

Building Self-Awareness

Emotional health begins with self-awareness.

Noticing your emotional reactions and internal emotional turbulence is a critical beginning. Tuning in to your emotional responses and recognizing their impact on your thoughts and behaviors starts you on the path of emotional fitness.

For instance, you make a mistake at work and feel embarrassed. So, your thoughts flood your mind, "I can't believe I made such a stupid mistake!" or "If I keep making mistakes, they're going to fire me." The inner critic is unleashed!

Or you're going to a party and the outfit you were planning on wearing is too tight. You immediately start berating yourself for being overweight.

Then, more feelings seep in, such as fear and anxiety. And your thoughts whirl round and round—for hours... or even days!

Not fun, is it? 

I know what it's like; I had a relentless inner critic years ago—it was exhausting! 

Self-awareness lays the foundation for self-management.

Observe yourself. Listen to yourself. Practice sharpening your awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and responses.

Now feel your emotions.

Breathe in inner peace.

Breathe out angst, self-loathing, shame, frustration, and anger. Allow them to teach you.

Your emotions are your GPS to happiness. Negative emotions guide us to take action to feel better so if we don't listen, how will you ever feel better?
A couple camping and talking around a campfire.

Flexing the Muscles of Self-Regulation and Self-Management

Next, it's time to learn to self-regulate or manage emotions. We have dozens of emotions with many different intensities so it requires consistent practice to regulate feelings.

What does it mean to manage your emotions?

Here's what it doesn't mean:

  • suppressing emotions
  • pushing feelings aside
  • talking incessantly with others to air feelings
    (Of course, a conversation with a good friend occasionally is helpful.)
  • getting productive because you don't want to feel
  • pretending your feelings aren't bubbling
  • erupting with anger on others

Regulating emotions supports self-management.

Managing your energy and emotions means acknowledging them, regulating, and then intentionally deciding how you'll respond in a way that aligns with your values and goals.

It’s akin to choosing the right workout for your mood and goals at the gym.

From Conflict to Compassion: Navigating Inner Conflict

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, including with ourselves!

Inner conflict is one of the trickiest to address since no one but us sees or experiences it! And unfortunately, inner turmoil can be drown out by sheer willfulness or nonstop activity. (I used to clean my entire house when my feelings were conflicted!)

Yet, the emotional clash doesn't have to lead to meltdowns or panic attacks. The inward struggle is really only different parts of our self trying to advocate for a need, value, goal, relationship, or desire.

It's a healthy disagreement.

You can approach your bickering mind or your squabbling feelings with a mindset of compassion. Having more compassion for myself was the most powerful element in my transformation. And it's something I see missing for most of the clients I've coached for the past couple of decades.

Self-compassion is crucial.

When we judge and shame ourselves, it often intensifies our emotional experience. Turning compassion inward creates a safe space for feeling fully.

This approach not only diffuses anxiety but also strengthens the connection with our authentic self.

Yes! I want to increase self-awareness

Practical Steps to Elevate Your Emotional Quotient

Improving your EQ starts with small, daily practices. Here's one to try.

Begin by observing your emotions and asking yourself why you feel a certain way. Practice active listening in your interactions and conversations with others.

Observe what's happening within you.

Is the conversation turning your gut into a big knot or has the person uplifted you and made you laugh?

Do you feel anxious all of a sudden by a comment they made? Or are you hoping to tell them something about yourself but they just keep on talking? 

Are you wanting to move on and yet you stay in the conversation to be polite?

Pay attention to what your feelings are telling you.

This simple practice when done daily can lead to significant improvements in your emotional fitness.

Closing Thoughts About Your Emotional Fitness

Growing and building your emotional intelligence is ongoing, like a road trip across country. They'll be exciting adventures, unnerving encounters, and some very boring moments.

Just keep going.

Keep practicing.

Every time you befriend your emotions, more insight and inner peace will unfold.

It's a lifelong road trip, not a marathon or a sprint. Design your emotional fitness like a wise trainer would develop a plan for physical strength and optimal health. Build on what you learn.

If you stay consistent, you'll look back and see just how far you've come!

Inner peace, resiliency, and a happier life await you.

Emotional intelligence is Heartmanity's specialty. If you'd like a customized program or personalized plan and emotional fitness coach, contact us!

And if you're ready to master your emotional intelligence, try this comprehensive course.

Master Your Emotionally Intelligence!

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Jennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence CoachJennifer A. Williams / Emotional Intelligence Coach
Jennifer is the Heartmanity founder and an emotional intelligence expert. She has two decades of EQ experience and is the author of emotional intelligence training and courses. As an emotional fitness coach, Jennifer teaches EQ skills, brain science hacks, and a comprehensive approach that gets results. She is happily married and the mother of three incredible grown children.

Posted in Emotional Intelligence & Fitness

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