In recent years, emotional intelligence has gotten a lot more attention. We’ve gotten used to the idea that cognitive intelligence is an important predictor of success, since people with high cognitive intelligence tend to do well at school and especially excel in subjects like math, science, and engineering, which tend to pay well in the professional world. However, it’s starting to appear that emotional intelligence may be at least as important as cognitive intelligence. While cognitive intelligence can help you design a better database, emotional intelligence can help you design a better life. Emotional skills relate more directly to the things that mean the most to us, such as happiness, fulfillment, and relationships. Developing your emotional intelligence is a crucial aspect of recovery from addiction.
The first facet of emotional intelligence is self-awareness. When you know more about yourself you can be more effective in other aspects of emotional intelligence. Self-awareness means knowing your values, what lifts you up, what makes you feel uncomfortable, and having a good idea how you will react in certain situations. Developing self-awareness is surprisingly hard but there are ways to do it. Participating in therapy, especially group therapy is a good way. Keeping a journal and really digging into your motivations is another useful tool. Finally, just being aware of your emotions and gut reactions to different situations can teach you a lot about yourself.
Self-regulation is highly dependent on self-awareness but it has more to do with actually getting yourself to do what you want. This is perhaps the most urgent skill for anyone in recovery to develop because it can mean the difference between relapsing and staying sober. Self-regulation involves internal strategies, such as challenging distorted thinking, and external strategies, such as avoiding people and places you associate with drugs and alcohol or practicing strategies to resist peer pressure.
Motivation is another major key to recovery. Most people find it easier to motivate themselves at the beginning of recovery. They remember how miserable they were during active addiction and they feel better as withdrawal symptoms recede and they start to make progress in treatment. As the months go on though, motivation can wane. You have to learn strategies to motivate yourself to keep going. As with self-regulation, this is partly a matter of using mental strategies and partly a matter of setting up your life in such a way that it’s easier to keep going. It’s also important to learn how to motivate others, since being part of a strong sober network is a crucial part of recovery.
Empathy is being able to put yourself in someone else’s place, to have some idea of what they want, what they’re feeling, and what they’re thinking. Empathy is especially important in building strong relationships. Almost anyone can learn to be more empathetic simply by making a consistent effort. Whether you’re in group therapy or having a casual chat with a coworker, listen closely to others and try to understand how they’re feeling.
Social skills are really a matter of how you bring together all the other aspects of emotional intelligence. For example, if you are aware of your own motivations and someone else’s, you can use your social skills to resolve conflicts or even figure out a win-win solution. If you’re lacking in empathy or self-awareness, that’s much harder to do. And there’s also skill involved in the resolution itself. If the other parts of emotional intelligence are the bricks, then social skills are the mortar. Strong social skills reduce your stress, strengthen your relationships, and even make you a better leader.
Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premiere men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (855) 202-2138