You have most probably heard the saying that “happiness comes from within.” In other words, happiness comes from inside you; you just have to dig deeper into your emotions and feelings to access it. And this is where emotional sustainability comes in.
Emotional sustainability is a practice that helps you understand your feelings and emotions much better. Having a good understanding of your emotions is crucial, as it helps you build strong values and beliefs that shape your personality. Besides, emotional sustainability can help you build stronger relationships, boost your emotional intelligence and attain all your goals.
Since emotional sustainability is such a crucial practice in everyday life, it is important that you learn how to attain it. This article defines emotional sustainability, explains why it is important, and also how you can develop the key aspect of emotional sustainability: emotional intelligence. Read on!
Table Of Contents
What is Emotional Sustainability?
Emotional sustainability is a practice that strives to understand feelings, emotions, and values better. It encourages a willingness for self-exploration and the ability to process past feelings and emotions.
Also, the practice involves striving to manage emotions and feelings that impact us presently, as well as expressing these to improve relationships and communications.
The holistic approach seeks to understand the link between these feelings and emotions, as well as their relation to social and personal sustainability.
Emotional sustainability and sustainable development
To achieve true sustainability, we first need to sustain ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. This is why emotional sustainability places equal value on the knowledge of our physical selves, feelings, and thinking.
Emotional sustainability is an extremely important aspect to enable human and social sustainability (two of the 4 pillars of sustainability) and, ultimately, sustainable development. Because without emotional intelligence, there can’t be inclusivity, equity, social justice and every other aspect of social sustainability!
When you gain a better understanding of your feelings and emotions, you recognize how different emotions affect feelings. This puts you in a better position to form values, motivations, and beliefs that define you and give you more confidence.
Also, emotional sustainability practices can help you discover your passions so that you maximize your potential and realize your real purpose in life.
In addition to helping you understand yourself and improve your personal life, emotional sustainability also improves your social skills and experience. After all, the practice encourages activeness, not passiveness.
Besides, by making you become more confident in yourself, emotional sustainability encourages you to embrace creativity and create meaningful relationships with others. When we form meaningful relationships, we unite each other with peace and equality; two crucial aspects that contribute to the preservation of the planet and attainment of true sustainable development by balancing the 3 pillars of sustainability.
Improving Emotional Sustainability
To attain emotional sustainability, you need to work on improving the key component of this aspect: emotional intelligence. Also known as emotional quotient (EQ), emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand, utilize and control your emotions, usually in a positive way.
For example, an emotionally intelligent person communicates effectively, uses their emotions to relieve stress, defuses conflicts, and emphasizes with others.
Not only does emotional intelligence help you forge strong relationships, but it also helps you connect better with your feelings and make wise decisions about your life. More so, emotionally intelligent people are known to do better at school and work, always achieving their goals and aspirations.
Indeed, improving your emotional intelligence is the best way to attain emotional sustainability.
So how exactly can you build your emotional intelligence? Consider these four essential skills that can help you improve the ability to control your emotions and use them to connect with others, achieving emotional sustainability!
1. Relationship Management
To forge meaningful relationships and work well with others, you first need to build emotional awareness and improve your ability to understand the experience of others. Emotional awareness helps you develop good social skills, which in turn promote more fulfilling, fruitful and effective relationships.
Also, it is important that you become aware of your own non-verbal communication. After all, your brain’s emotional part is always turned on, which means that you send non-verbal cues about how you feel and what you think, even without intending to. Therefore, being fully aware of the non-verbal cues that you send to other people can you help build stronger relationships.
Besides, when conflicts occur, see these as an opportunity to forge even stronger and closer relationships. Conflicts are bound to happen from time to time, since no two people can share the same opinions, views and needs at all times. If the conflicts are not a threat or punishment, solve these in a healthy way that fosters freedom and strengthens trust between people.
According to the science of attachment, there is a high likelihood that your current emotional experience reflects your early life experience. In other words, how well you manage anger, joy, sadness, fear, and other core feelings is majorly determined by the consistency and quality of the emotional experiences in your early life.
Say, for example, your parents or guardians understood your emotions and feelings as an infant. In such a case, it is likely that now as an adult, you consider your emotions and feelings as valuable assets. On the other hand, if you had painful, confusing or threatening emotional experiences, you most likely try to avoid emotions and ignore your feelings as an adult.
However, for you to understand how your emotions impact your thoughts and actions, you need to learn how to connect with them.
These four questions can help you examine yourself to see if you have actually “turned off” your feelings and emotions:
- Do you experience emotions, such as joy, anger, fear and sadness, each of which can be evident in facial expressions?
- Do your emotions play any role in your decision-making?
- When you go through different emotions, do you experience physical sensations in your body, such as in your chest, stomach, or throat?
- Do you experience intense feelings; feelings that are too strong that they capture your attention, as well as that of others?
If you have not experienced any of the above situations, it could be that you have “turned down” your feelings and emotions.
To build your emotional intelligence and attain emotional sustainability, you need to not only reconnect with your core emotions but also accept them as being part of you and be confident about them.
One practice that can help you achieve this is mindfulness and learning to deal with negative emotions. Mindfulness allows you to focus all your attention on the current moment. It helps you shift your attention so that you appreciate the present moment rather than become indulged in your thoughts.
Mindfulness also makes you become more self-aware, helping you appreciate all the emotional sensations and understand your perspective (or purpose) in life.
To acquire better emotional intelligence, you should be able to manage your emotions and use them to make wise decisions that add meaning to your life. However, when you are stressed, it is very easy to lose control over your emotions; a situation that can cause you to act rashly and make wrong decisions.
Think, for instance, about a time when you felt overwhelmed by stress. Did you think clearly? Or did you find it quite difficult to make good decisions? Most of us can agree that when we are overwhelmed by stress, it is usually difficult to make rational decisions. Being overly stressed impairs your ability to think clearly, assess emotions accurately and make rational decisions.
In those cases, some external help, like a weighted blanket for anxiety could help, however, to manage your emotions, avoid compromising your ability to reason and make good decisions, you should cultivate the skill of self-management. Self-management helps you remain emotionally present, even when facing stressful situations.
You learn to receive stressful information calmly, without letting your emotions take over and control your thoughts and actions. With such self-control, you’ll then be able to manage your emotions well, follow through on all commitments and remain adaptable come what may.
4. Social Awareness
When people communicate with you, they use both verbal and non-verbal cues. Social awareness gives you the ability to read and interpret any non-verbal cues that others use. And when you recognize and understand non-verbal cues from others, you get to know how they truly feel and what they consider most important to them.
Just like with self-awareness, you need mindfulness to help you build social awareness. After all, you can’t recognize subtle non-verbal cues that others use to communicate if you are preoccupied in your own thoughts or are zoning out on your gadget.
And even if you are an expert in multitasking, you need to be present, putting all your focus and attention in the current moment. Otherwise, you risk missing all the subtle emotional shifts that would have helped you understand others.
Remember, focusing on other people won’t diminish your self-awareness. On the contrary, when you invest your time, effort, and energy to focus on others, you gain a deep insight into your own values, beliefs and emotional state.
For example, feeling uncomfortable when others express certain opinions can make you learn something important about your views and beliefs.
To be truly successful and lead a fulfilling life, you need to be smart, right? Not necessarily.
While being smart contributes to success to a certain degree, it cannot compare to emotional sustainability. Emotional sustainability practices not only help you understand yourself better, but also foster good relations with others and encourage success in the business sector.
So if you are looking to lead a happier and more fulfilling life, work towards improving your emotional sustainability by cultivating the four essential skills for emotional intelligence: relationship management, self-awareness, self-management, and social awareness.