25 Challenges To Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

The 25 personal challenges outlined below are designed to provide learning experiences that will increase these skills and others that comprise your emotional intelligence.

#1. Get to know your emotions.

Focus on observing and understanding all of your emotions, especially the difficult ones.

• What triggers them?

• Which people are more likely to bring about which feelings?

• Why do you respond emotionally in some situations but not others?

• Do your emotional responses accurately reflect how you want to feel, how you want others to see you?

Start taking mental notes, or write them down or create a chart. Keeping track of patterns in your emotions that can help you understand when and why you react in specific ways.

Knowing your emotions, being able to name them, helps you better control your reaction under challenging situations, and it gives you the ability to decide if your feelings are helpful or harmful to your growth.

If you need a little refresher on emotions, here is an Extensive List of Emotions and Their Meaning.


#2. Focus on your body as well as your mind.

Emotional strength and stability are as much about your physical health as your mental health.

Notice how healthier choices improve your emotional state. Challenge yourself to develop healthier habits, then notice the impact these have on your emotional self.

We all need support to create healthier habits. If you can’t get to the gym or need a coach here is a program you could consider The Online Fitness Tutor in the privacy of your own home.


#3. Accept your past for what it has taught you.

Living in the past can keep you from developing emotional stability and health. Your past struggles and mistakes are what made you the person you are today, so celebrate your history instead of living in regret. You don’t have to discount the turmoil and struggle of the past to move past it.

Honor the strength it built in you and focus on how you can apply those lessons to making healthier choices for the future.

Moving on from the past can be an arduous journey from some, so work on it a little each day, and focus on what you have learned and gained from those experiences rather than reliving the negative emotions and behaviors.

#4. Embrace failure.

When things don’t go as planned, when life has other plans than your success, it is essential that you react positively. We all fail and make mistakes in life and you have choices in how you respond to and accept those challenges.

Adversities and setbacks are opportunities to learn and grow, nothing more.

If you continue to make the same mistakes again and again, you are not learning from your experiences, not engaging in self-reflection that would help you make better choices.

All experiences, good and bad, teach us something. Whether you internalize those lessons is up to you.



#5. Get yourself out there.

Taking emotional risks can make you stronger. The emotions that make you uncomfortable are the ones that will likely push you into stronger, healthier places in your life.

Start with selecting emotional risks that are manageable, and once you’ve conquered a few, take on bigger challenges.

Keep pushing yourself to confront those feelings of uncomfortableness, which is where learning and growth take place.

Dating online is an emotional risk for the majority of users especially when we are over 50. Finding a date or friend online is so foreign to us. It’s now how we are used to finding a new partner. It is how many people are finding true and enduring love in this online world.

There are several advantages that reduce the risk of finding love online. Advantages of Online Dating. 

online dating

#6. Be genuinely interested in others.

Just as emotional intelligence is about knowing yourself better, it is also about knowing others and their emotions. Make genuine efforts to get to know people, which can help you recognize and acknowledge their feelings.

This helps you build empathy, which is a large part of emotional intelligence.

Challenge yourself to be more of an active listener to others, paying attention not only to words but body language. Ask questions and try to see situations from the perspective of others whenever possible. Listening is a skill we should all practice regularly, and it can improve your relationships and help you develop empathy.


#7. Assist those in need.

When you do things for others, it not only helps them, but it also provides you with a boost. Giving to others bolsters your confidence in your skills, helps you appreciate your life and what you have, and allows you to develop empathy for others.

When you help others, it increases your resiliency, as you see new pathways out of hard situations, and you understand that it is okay to ask for help yourself when it is needed. Try to do something at least once a week for someone else, and you will start to notice the difference it makes in your life, too.


#8. Observe any patterns in your behavior.

Are there patterns to your negative emotions or behaviors that can help you become more emotionally intelligent?

Look for times when you experience the same type of reaction, examine the people you continue to choose to care for but that disappoint you in some way and observe choices you keep making, despite adverse outcomes.

What can you learn from these patterns?

Learning from your past experiences, mistakes, missteps, and trends is crucial for improving your emotional responses and behaviors in the future.

#9. Get those negative emotions under control.

While it is okay to experience negative emotions, how you allow those emotions to affect your judgment and behavior is vital for developing emotional intelligence.

When you can recognize and then control your negative emotions, you are more likely to make rational, thoughtful choices and think carefully through a problem to find possible solutions.

The next time you feel that swift reaction of negative emotions, stop what you are doing and work through the feeling first before you make any decisions or act in any way. Negative emotions make it hard to be rational as well as to accept feedback from others, so be aware of them and cognizant that you need to control them before making decisions.

How High is Your Emotional Intelligence? 

ebook EQ


#10. Learn how to tell others how you feel.

Being able to express painful emotions appropriately is a part of emotional intelligence, too. Expressing your feelings means you are honest with yourself and others about how you feel, which can help build trust and build better relationships with others.


It is essential to know when to share your emotions with others as well as how so that you don’t hurt others’ feelings. Practice disagreeing without being disagreeable, look for moments to say no without submitting to feelings of guilt and stand up for yourself when necessary. The more of these types of encounters you have, the more comfortable they will be in the future, so practice the hard conversations when you can.

#11. Laugh more.

The more you are with happy people and engage in activities that bring you genuine joy, the happier you will be.

Find things to do that make you genuinely laugh, which will release happy hormones that boost your mood and help you maintain a positive mindset.

Laughter brings you closer to others, and when you surround yourself with those that make you laugh, you feel more positive about your future.


#12 Express at least one feeling each day.

Expressing your emotions allows for release, which permits you to increase awareness of your emotions, manage them and move on.

You can be human, express your feelings, and be a healthy person. The trick is finding ways to express those emotions that don’t cause harm to other’s feelings.

Embrace your feelings for what they teach you about yourself, but don’t wallow in them too long.


#13. Be compassionate toward yourself.

We are often harsher in our judgment of ourselves than we are of anyone else. Instead of judging your reaction to a situation or person, look at your emotions through the lens of curiosity and self-compassion.

What do your emotions tell you about yourself, what can you learn from this situation about your actions or behaviors? Become a detective rather than a prosecutor, challenge yourself to turn negative self-talk into questions that seek to find answers.

#14. Work on your body language.

In addition to your words, your nonverbal language also tells others a great deal about you. Your facial expressions, mannerisms, tone, posture, and much more point to much more about yourself than you may realize.

Watch how others use their body and convey emotions without words, Then, examine your nonverbal cues to determine if you are sending the messages you want others to receive.

Ask for feedback on your nonverbal communication from others whom you trust and from who you would accept feedback.


#15. Visualize your emotional toolbox.

A useful exercise is to imagine a toolbox in which you keep all the skills you need to help you cope with life’s challenges and emotions. These tools are ones you acquire over time and are given to you by the experiences that have tested you in the past.


The strategies represented by each of these tools have helped you grow into the person you are today, and each is responsible for your happiness and well-being.

When you face a new challenge, you can conjure up this mental image to help you consider all the tools you have at your disposal for dealing with your present dilemma. Knowing you have these tools available is sometimes all you need to have the confidence to move forward.


#16. Be open-minded whenever possible.

Lowered emotional intelligence often results in narrow-mindedness and a closed way of thinking. When you are open minded, you listen more willingly to other’s perspectives and value alternative points of view.

When you are open minded, you try to put yourself in other’s shoes, which garners trust and respect from those around you.

Being open-minded results in a healthy self-awareness, too. One way to challenge yourself in this area is to observe others’ reactions in social situations.

Compare this to how you would react and consider the views and perspectives that informed their response. You can challenge your own beliefs as you explore new ideas and points of view, which will benefit your relationships with others.


#17. You need support.

A healthy support system is crucial for emotional well-being and stability. Create a network of people in your life that support and encourage you and be open and willing to share yourself with these people.

They should be willing to help you improve, and you should be willing to do that for them, as well. You need people who can help you when you need help.

A challenge for this is to rid yourself of those people in your life who bring you negative emotions, who you don’t trust, and who do not have your best interests at heart.

Look for patterns in your interactions with people, and any that consistently bring up negative emotions should be examined more closely.

Make choices of who you spend your time with based on how supportive and caring the relationship is for you and the other person, and others should be given less, if any, importance in your life.


#18. Take care of yourself.

Knowing when to place your own needs above others is an important component of emotional intelligence. Your psychological health is vital to sustaining your over time, and you have to make decisions based on maintaining this and your physical health above all else.

Focus on your beliefs and values and take care to make choices that are in line with those as well as your emotional and physical needs.

Don’t feel guilty when you make decisions that are best for you, as you cannot place others’ needs over your own.


#19. You are responsible for your actions.

If you do something to upset another person, or you make a mistake, it is vital that you own up to your actions and apologize. This shows humility, which is essential for emotional intelligence.

Acknowledging your mistakes or weaknesses indicates your self-awareness, honesty, and commitment to others. Apologies go a long way toward re-establishing trust and helping others believe in your honesty and integrity. When you can be transparent about your faults to others, it helps them empathize with you, as well.

#20. Set boundaries that work for you.

Boundaries are essential for maintaining your emotional integrity, protecting your emotional space, and providing you with the healthy area you need to thrive. How often do you let others’ emotions affect you? Do you allow others to invade your emotions?

Creating healthy boundaries is key to keeping your feelings separate from others and vice versa. Visualize that space, decide how big you want and need it to be, then erect the psychological boundaries you require to maintain it.

Be sure to take care of those boundaries, asking others to respect them when necessary and honoring them yourself. 

#21. Get others’ perspectives.

Ask how your behavior comes across. You may be projecting emotions of which you were not even aware, and how others perceive you may be completely different than how you see yourself.

This is not about judging if you or others are right or wrong, merely it is to gain a better understanding of perceptions.

Challenge yourself to seek honest feedback from someone you trust about your interactions with them and others. Ask for feedback about how you have helped them through difficult times, about your ability to listen actively, and for feedback on your ability to convey your own emotions.

#22. Use criticism to grow.

If someone criticizes you, regardless of your relationship with them, it can be hard to take. Anytime critical feedback is offered, though, you have choices in how you hear and react to it.

If you opt to let your emotions guide your response, it is likely to be an unproductive exchange that leads to no progress. If, however, you choose to set emotion aside and instead look at it as a learning experience, you can grow and develop self-understanding.

Looking past the way the criticism was delivered to the actual content is key because it allows you to focus solely on the alternate perspective with which you are presented.

How can you use the feedback to improve?

Is this feedback in line with your values and beliefs, and if not, how can you politely decline it and honor your boundaries?

If your goal is self-improvement, every opportunity can be seen as a way to learn something new, including accepting and responding to negative feedback.

#23. Don’t be afraid to pause.

Practicing pausing is easy to consider but difficult to implement. Once you master the pause, though, you can change your life significantly.

Pausing before acting allows you to review your actions and words, as well as process your emotions, to avoid unnecessary conflict and turmoil.

Acknowledging your feelings, and that they are highly charged, is not a sign of weakness but instead shows self-awareness.

Admitting that perhaps now is not a good time to continue the conversation, given the elevated emotional state, can give everyone involved time to cool down and continue with a more rational discussion in the future. Pausing, even for just a moment, before speaking or acting, is a healthy habit that ensures you are always thinking first.

#24. Focus on how you can reward others.

When you have emotional intelligence, you recognize that you have something to bring to other people. Being rewarding to others can help you be successful professionally as well as develop more lasting friendships.

Being rewarding to others means you are trusting, cooperative, and unselfish, and you are generally less critical and guarded toward others.

Challenge yourself to share knowledge and skills with others without expecting anything in return, and to focus on how you can benefit others if you want to cultivate relationships others will value.

#25. Get professional help when you need it.

Talking therapist can be helpful when trying to develop your emotional intelligence. If you have emotional issues, past trauma you are trying to work through, or other psychological problems, a professional can be exactly the kind of support you need to further your growth.

Mental health professionals, counselors, family doctors are trained to help you uncover emotional scars, develop new tools for your emotional toolkit, and provide you with exercises to increase your emotional competencies