Increase your emotional intelligence.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Man with feelings

Managing feelings.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Emotional intelligence is more important than you may think.

Most people are very familiar with the idea of IQ, the kind of intelligence that written tests can measure.  What gets overlooked often is the concept of emotional intelligence, the ability to understand what other people are thinking and feeling and to react to them in a helpful appropriate way.

If you’ve ever wished that you were better at understanding other people, what they were thinking and feeling, then you may need to work on improving your emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence is not something people are automatically born with.  We learn to be more emotionally intelligent by watching others around us, observing how they react emotionally and by practicing certain basic emotional intelligence skills.

If you would like to try to improve your emotional intelligence here a few simple ways that you may be able to expand and grow that essential skill.

Practice Self-Awareness, recognize you are feeling something.

Emotions, feelings anyway, has gotten a very bad reputation.  Increasingly we are discovering that feelings are not our enemies but are helpful to provide us with the information we need.  The Victorian era view that feelings were bad and to be suppressed, has been replaced by a modern vision that feelings can provide you with useful information.

That first step in making feelings your friends and becoming more emotionally intelligent is simply to recognize when you are feeling something.  Many people have spent so much time trying to avoid feeling anything that it comes as a shock that they need to pay more attention to what they’re feeling and why they are feeling that way.

Becoming emotionally literate.

It’s hard to talk about things if you don’t have words to describe them.  We humans use words and symbols to express and manipulate our thoughts.  Work on developing a larger feelings vocabulary.  If the only two feelings you recognize are good and bad, you have very few ways of feeling.  The more feeling words you recognize the more feelings you can identify.

Spend time and effort learning more feelings words for the times when you or others experience them.  Practice watching others then try to describe the feeling that they might be having at this precise moment.  One exercise we did back in graduate school was to turn the sound off on the TV and watch the people in the show while trying to identify what feelings they were having.

Use this practice of watching people and mentally identifying feelings in as many situations as possible.  With more feelings words and the ability to identify feelings when you see them you will increase your emotional intelligence.

Don’t let your emotions control you, distress tolerance and cravings.

People who are high in emotional intelligence, learn to control their emotions rather than being controlled by those emotions.  The ability to tolerate negative emotions without reacting to them is sometimes referred to as distress tolerance.

It is important to learn that just because you feel feelings you do not have to give in to those feelings.  It is possible to feel badly and have nothing bad happened.  Cravings for many things come and go, the emotionally intelligent person learns that because they feel cravings they do not have to give in to them.

Learn to control and manage your emotions.

You should develop the ability to recognize that you are feeling something and have learned a vocabulary to identify what that feeling is, then you are in a position to manage your emotions.  Emotionally intelligent people think to themselves, what is this feeling I am feeling, and then they decide what they want to do with that feeling.

Make your feelings a source of motivation.

Feelings can either be your boss or your employees.  Rather than letting your feelings control you and determine what you are going to do, work on using your feelings as a source of motivation to help you do the things you want to do.

Anger can be a feeling that provokes people to do things that they later regret.  Emotionally intelligent people can use anger as energy to spur them to take action and change the situation.

Learn empathy, what are they feeling?

Empathy is a very useful emotional skill.  One way to develop more empathy is to focus on what other people are feeling.  The more you’re able to recognize what they’re feeling and perhaps why they are feeling it, the more you will know how to approach them in a useful and helpful manner.

Practice Social Skills.

Social skills required a great deal of practice.  Learning those kinds of skills have somehow fallen out of fashion in this millennium.  Practicing social skills requires putting some effort into meeting and interacting with other people.

The increasing use of technology and the trend towards homeschooling have both been forces which encourage people to relate to others indirectly rather than developing their social skills.  No matter where you find yourself or who you are with, use these interactions as opportunities to observe other people with good social skills and to practice your own.

Follow these steps and you too may become someone with a high level of emotional intelligence.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Alexithymia and the Feelings Palette.

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Managing feelings.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Your feelings palette – What feelings paint your life?

Most of us are familiar with the pallets artists use to hold and mix their paints when doing a painting or other artwork. The more colors on the palette the more opportunities the artist has to create an inspiring work of art.

Palettes are also defined as “a range of qualities in a non-visual art.” There are palettes for your taste buds and palettes to decorate the house. Designers use palettes of fabric or of looks and textures to make the things they design more appealing.

What we forget about, all too often, are those other pallets that get used to make life a better place, those feelings pallets you use to make that life within a place.

Alexithymia

Difficulty feeling what we are feeling and struggles to describe what you are feeling is sometimes referred to as Alexithymia. The simplest description of this condition is “I ain’t got a word to describe how I feel.”

Alexithymia is not technically a diagnosable disorder, despite the huge number of people who have this problem. People with trouble recognizing what they feel and then a vocabulary that allows them to describe that feeling fall on a continuum from very mild to extremely severe. Using tests specific for Alexithymia the best estimate is that ten percent of the U. S. population may have a severe form of this condition.

Alexithymia and Mental Illness.

Alexithymia overlaps certain mental health disorders and people with those conditions are more likely to have Alexithymia and the resulting difficulty identifying, naming and working with feelings. Those with an Autism Spectrum disorder are more likely to show symptoms of what might be called Alexithymia.

Alexithymia also overlaps depression and anxiety and the more depressed or the more anxious someone is the harder it may be for them to recognize feelings. Disorders that cause numbing as in the Stress disorders, PTSD and Acute Stress disorders and dissociation can also have features of Alexithymia. Alexithymia has also been reported in those with an eating disorder.

People who have difficulty recognizing and naming feelings when they feel them also have difficulty in recognizing what others around them feel and may be perceived as uncaring and unfeeling.

There is a difference between not recognizing that you are feeling and the ability to name or describe a feeling. Some people know they are feeling something they just do not have the feelings vocabulary to describe to themselves and others what it is they are feeling.

Many men were socialized to have this condition. There was a time when feelings were suspect and people tried very hard to never ever have feelings. This resulted in a lack of learning about feelings and an inability to recognize what you feel and how to respond appropriately.

If the only feelings you have are “Good, Bad and ANGRY” you will be angry a lot. You also may have difficulty recognizing what makes you feel “good or bad” and how to regulate your emotions.

Learning to recognize feelings when you have them and learning to develop the skills to increase or decrease feelings when you need and want to, is an important part of anger management training.

How can you learn to control your anger if you do not recognize when you are or are becoming angry?

Learning about feelings.

Learning to recognize and identify feelings is a part of most counselor training programs. To date I have written about 60 posts on various feelings and emotions which you will find under:

Emotions and Feelings

Posts on Anger and Anger Management are at:

Anger Management

I think one reason feelings are so troubling to so many people is that if you do not know anything about feelings you have a hard time recognizing them. This goes for all kinds of other things as well. How can you find something if you don’t know what it looks like?

I wrote about this in a post about the “expert effect” which you will find at:

Expert effects Memory and the Purple Glass.

Periodically this year I would like to publish some posts on various feelings in the cause of “Emotionally Literacy” an effort to improve people’s ability to recognize feelings and make them your friends.

I hope you will all join me in these discussions.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.