What is Emotional Intelligence, Moms?

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black woman holding coffee and reading book on couch

 

Have you heard the term “Emotional Intelligence” before? The first time I heard this was on an episode of The Bachelor a few years ago. Yes, I watch reality television – it makes me laugh! In any case, the term got a negative association since one contestant used it to offend another one. I was quite intrigued about this topic, so I did a bit of research. Turns out emotional intelligence is just that: being intelligent with your emotions. It seems like a simple and straight forward concept, but there’s so much more to it!

As a mom, every single part of who I “was” has been put to the test. I remember finding out I was pregnant, and my biggest concern was how I was going to get through the delivery. Ha-ha! That was the easy part of it all still to this day… seriously. I would be bragging if I told you how easy my birthing experience was. The hard part started as soon as I got home. I don’t think I slept for two months straight, on top of learning how to breastfeed and learning how to adjust my blended family to our new normal. During this time, my only concern was surviving.

Everyone told me that life got easier as my son got older, I don’t think that’s what they meant. I’m assuming what they meant was that it all became more “bearable” …? LOL, it wasn’t until month 6 (at least) that I felt confident alone with my son. It had been such a long time since my husband had any babies around (he has a 10-and 14-year-old) that I think he forgot how it would impact our life. I was a mess. Super tired, not eating right, and confused; let’s just say it was equally hard on him. At this point, I was highly unaware of how much my thoughts and behaviors impacted my physical well-being.  The differences and transitions, as well as, the intensity of my emotions, back then, were affecting me and everyone around me.

Emotional intelligence is just that, being able to manage stress and challenges in a confident manner and being able to sort through emotions and figure out where they are coming from. We’re all human, we have thoughts and emotions, and those are interrelated. These emotions can be so intense that they can trigger your physical well being and then affect your behavior. Gill Hasson, author of Emotional Intelligence, describes it as “using your emotions to inform your thinking, and using your thinking to understand and manage emotion.” Confused? I was because emotions are so complicated to understand, nonetheless, explain, so it is important to start by being aware.

As a mom, this has never been more important. Having a 1 ½ year old baby boy has taught me that patience is an emotion that I must work on, especially these last few months that he’s been exploring so much more. My son does things that trigger me; they make me feel happy, mad, confused. So, by being aware constantly, I have learned to manage my responses to his actions. The same goes for my role as a stepmom. It has never been easy to hold that title, and I have not always been emotionally intelligent when I have had to deal with difficult situations that involved our blended family. As I continue to learn about this topic, I become more intrigued. It sounds so easy to be able to know when to respond immediately or when to stop, then think, doesn’t it? It becomes difficult for some of us because, like that saying, “we get in our feelings!”

Something that stood out from Gill Hasson’s book was that managing your emotions doesn’t mean controlling your emotions. She states that “managing your emotions involves being flexible with your thinking, behavior and responses; staying open to feelings that are pleasant and unpleasant.” What does that mean? To me, it simply means listening to what you’re feeling and expressing it successfully to others. For example, when I get anxious, I get a stomachache. When I get that stomachache, I can get moody. When I am in a bad mood, I say things that I don’t necessarily mean.

We’re moms, we want to keep our kids alive and happy. Whether you are a working mom or a stay at home mom, our immediate goals are similar. We want to have happy kids, happy husbands, and maybe manage to have a “clean” home… Whatever it is, emotional intelligence challenges us to become better communicators, so we can confidently express our feelings to our kids, husband, colleagues, family and friends. I wish I would have looked into this term back when I heard it on the Bachelor, seriously.

Submitted by Denise (Dee) Huerta