The Secret to a Healthier Life Beyond “I’m Fine” Share +

Posted by: coronadosafe 5 months ago

(Emotional Intelligence 5-part series. Part 1: Self-Awareness)

by Coronado SAFE

“I’m fine.”

“Not bad.”

“Doing okay.”

It’s a routine reflex to keep the answer short and sweet when someone asks, “How are you?”—and on the surface, it can seem accurate. If nothing is terribly wrong, maybe you are feeling generally fine. But entering year two of a global pandemic that has changed the way we live and socialize, we are all navigating a range of emotions, including those that we might be unaware of. So, how are you, really?

Start with Self-Awareness 

It’s empowering and rewarding to truly understand how you’re feeling. Self-awareness is the purest form of self-care and the first step to social and emotional intelligence, or the ability to recognize your feelings and those of others. Give yourself time and space each day to evaluate your mindset. What do you feel and what is making you feel that way? How much of a factor is it in the short and long term? If you have negative feelings, allow yourself to acknowledge them rather than deflect or ignore them.

Unpack Emotions

Humans aren’t meant to feel complete happiness all the time. Our emotions are complex, layered, and constantly changing. They’re what make us social beings. Some emotions are like icebergs, showing just the surface and not what’s underneath. For example, we often say we’re feeling happy, when we might be more precisely feeling thankful, comforted, or excited. Or, we might say we’re feeling angry, but digging deeper, find feelings of resentment, disappointment, fear, or sadness. With anxiety levels at an all-time high during the pandemic, emotions are all the more important to recognize.

Parenting Exercise: Name Feelings

Children learn life skills by modeling others and then practicing; self-awareness is no different. You can start developing a child’s emotional language through feelings charts, asking how a character might be feeling in a story, and labeling feelings in conversation, such as, “It seems to me you might be frustrated; is that true?” When children have the language and, more importantly, a validating space, to express their feelings at home, they are better able to regulate themselves and reach out for help—which can be a preventative factor against anxiety, depression, and other relational issues. 

Create Authentic Conversations with Others

Self-awareness provides the starting point to open up to others as well as the ability to articulate your feelings in a thoughtful and productive way. Whether speaking with a friend, family member, or acquaintance, conversing beyond the typical “how are you?” exchange can create meaningful interactions—those that often go missing in the age of social distancing. Once you lead by example, you may be surprised by both the number of people who are willing to share their feelings, too, and how much you have in common. Here in Coronado, we all embrace similar activities and life on the island while feeling subtle pressures and seeing challenges in the community.

Start a Continuum

Authentic conversations take many shapes and forms. From speaking to listening to commiserating to connecting, these conversations make for stronger relationships and greater resilience. Once you become comfortable speaking about feelings, you also become more approachable for others to do the same. The simple decision to embrace self-awareness opens up a personal and communal circle of social and emotional intelligence. 

Soon, we’ll discuss the next step on the continuum, self-regulation. Until then, visit CoronadoSAFE.org for more information, tools and resources to empower your mental wellness and keep you feeling emotionally attuned to the community we call home. Sign up for the e-newsletter and follow us on social media @CoronadoSAFE. 

Try this at home: Cut out the image and post it on your refrigerator. Practice identifying how you feel each day.