Have you ever found yourself saying, “I feel bad about something, but I don’t know why.”? Or “Give me some space. I need some me time.”
I’ve taken a couple of classes on emotional intelligence, and one powerful thing I’ve learned is that I need to know myself better. Why is this important? Simply put, when you know yourself and can understand your own feelings, you can then articulate those feelings. Once you can articulate your feelings, you can take action. The types of action you take could be:
1) You personally take action on your behalf
2) You ask people for help
3) You may decide that whatever it was, it’s not worth getting upset about
Wait, you might say on the 3rd point, does that make your feelings invalid? Absolutely not. It could be that what you think you’re upset about, when you dig deeper, is not about the original issue but something else. Or sometimes when you allow yourself to see the bigger picture, you realize that it’s not worth getting worked up over that particular thing.
An important component of knowing yourself is to ask not only WHAT am I feeling, but also WHY? Answering these two questions can help you decide what action to take for #1 and #2.
What do you have to gain by knowing yourself better? A better relationship with your significant other. A better relationship with your boss, your co-workers; it could help you get ahead in your career, maybe even get that promotion. It could help you develop a better relationship with your friends.
Once you can articulate to yourself what is bothering you, and you decide it’s time to share, be specific about the issue. Describe how the issue makes you feel and what you would like to do about it. Speak with the intention of being understood, not necessarily for that person to agree with you. Be open to feedback and discussion. If it’s a work situation and depending on your office culture, you may have to talk to different people until you get your issues addressed.
If you’re upset with your spouse, (and although I hate to stereotype, I know that women especially are guilty of this), don’t just expect them to know what’s wrong. Just because they love you does NOT mean they’re supposed to read your mind. But don’t just blame them for things that you’re not happy about. Make it a dialogue, a problem-solving session where you both work together to resolve the issue. Share your thoughts and ask for input!
Now instead of telling my husband “I’m upset and I don’t know why”, which I used to do before, sometimes I say “Give me some time to figure out what’s bothering me” and then I get back to him. It has made our relationship that much stronger.
You might argue that getting along with other people requires understanding them better. Yes, that may be true. But talking with someone can be one of the steps you take to understand that person better. And if you don’t know yourself well enough to be able to communicate how you feel, how can you possibly talk to that other person? Change begins with you.
By understanding how you feel and being able to articulate those feelings, you have the power to take action. Therefore, getting to know yourself better is the key to changing your life for the better. If nothing else, it will allow you to talk and have more open and honest relationships with the ones you love. But it all starts with you.