Controlling your emotions

Suzan Asya Yavuz outlines how to harness your ‘Emotional Intelligence’ to attain a clearer mind and halt procrastination.

‘Emotional Intelligence’ or EQ, is the ability to process emotional information in relation to the ‘perception, expression, regulation and management of emotion’. It involves a set of mental abilities which allow individuals to process attitudes to feelings and discrimination between feelings, as well as apply mood regulating strategies. Psychologists have argued that an individual’s ability to integrate emotion into thought has an impact on how much we procrastinate, while studies have found a negative relationship between procrastination (or the inability to self-regulate performance) and emotional intelligence.

There are, of course a number of factors which may determine how much we procrastinate. Boredom, anxiety, and perfectionism have all been identified as component factors. One may procrastinate more if they have attention deficits—a tendency to boredom, low self esteem, a fear of failure etc. EQ however, is less obvious and therefore a more interesting factor to consider. Mayer and Salovey’s model of EQ consists of four main components, the ability to perceive emotions (in oneself and others), to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand emotions and to manage emotions to attain specific goals. Emotional regulation—namely one’s ability to cope with stress—could be influential in determining how much one procrastinates. Many studies link the aforementioned factors with EQ. One 2014 study concluded that it was EQ’s relation to self-efficacy which then influenced procrastination. Individuals with a high EQ were more likely to believe in their ability to achieve a goal, and were therefore less likely to procrastinate. Using emotional knowledge to assess thought is an important part of EQ. Therefore, it is a reasonable assumption that a lack of EQ leads to emotions like anxiety or boredom overriding responsibility, and in turn prohibits personal growth.

Dr Travis Bradbury, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 lists nine characteristics of individuals with high EQ’s. They remain optimistic through hardships, and are able to identify their own emotions. They are assertive, curious about others, and won’t let anyone limit their joy. They know what makes them happy, aren’t easily offended, and give little power to negative self-talk.

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Procrastination decreases both the quality and the quantity of learning, if you procrastinate and feel it may be due to lacking EQ, but there are ways to develop your emotional intelligence. Dr Susan David’s four stage RUUM model states that applying a system whereby one recognises, uses, understands and manages their emotions can aid the development of an improved EQ. To use this model, check in with yourself occasionally, and ask yourself how you are feeling. Once you have recognised your emotions, try to identify how these feelings are affecting your thinking—acknowledge that emotions can actually help you make better decisions, Try to understand these emotions and identify the factors contributing to how you to feel.

Finally, try to manage these emotions. You can do this through meditation, exercise, music, social support and basically whatever clears your mind and makes you happy. If you are checking in during bouts of procrastination, recognise how you feel. Anxious? Bored? See if this negative thinking is causing you to procrastinate. Ask yourself what caused you to feel this way, and finally try to clear your mind and combat your negative self-talk so that you can return to work with a clear and able mind.