Emotional Intelligence Toolkit Step 5: Practice the Skills and Enjoy the Benefits

Live Emotionally Healthier with Less Stress, More Joy, and Better Relationships

It’s important to continue to practice the Ride the Wild Horse meditations until you’re able to stay connected to your physical and emotional feelings and are secure in your ability to remain calm and focused under stress.

Watch the video: Unexpected rewards

To read a transcript of this video, click here.

If the videos don’t play in your Firefox browser, please try using Google Chrome or Internet Explorer.

Setting yourself up for successful learning

Learning a new set of skills takes effort and is not easy, especially if your energy is being
sapped by depression, anxiety, or other challenges. But if you start small with baby steps undertaken at times of the day when you have the most energy, learning a new skill set can be easier than you think. Remember that change is rarely a straightforward process, so cut yourself some slack when you run into obstacles.

These final tips will help you use the skills in real world situations and channel them into your brain.

  • Practice, practice, practice. The more you repeat the meditations, the more comfortable you will feel with your emotional experiences and the greater change you’ll experience in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Like building muscles in the gym, the more you flex emotions, the more “emotional muscle” you will build.
  • Set up predictable challenges. Try practicing your new emotional intelligence skills at predictable times of stress, when the stakes are low. For example, tune into your body while doing household chores or commuting through heavy traffic.
  • Expect setbacks. Don’t lose hope if you backslide into old habits now and then. It happens. Instead of giving up after a setback, vow to start afresh next time and learn from your mistakes.
  • When in doubt, return to your body. If you’re struggling to manage your mood in a tough situation, take a deep breath, and apply quick stress relief.

Until it’s a habit, it may not be there when needed

You integrate a new skill into your brain by practicing it, making it a way of life. Integration only occurs when you stay engaged. Thus, if your intention is to stay emotionally connected to yourself and others, you will want to maintain an ongoing awareness of your emotional experience. This awareness doesn’t have to occupy all your conscious attention but it does have to be something you are aware of With regular practice, you can actually change your brain in ways that will make you feel more confident, resilient, and in control.

Communicating your new learning experiences face-to-face

Remember, an important part of the Ride the Wild Horse experience is communicating face-to-face after the meditation with someone who takes an interest in what you have to say. This kind of face-to-face communication helps you to remember and act on what you’ve just learned. An interested person willing to take a few minutes to listen attentively to you on a regular basis could be a family member, friend, or colleague. For help on meeting people, read How to Make Close Friends.

Unexpected rewards

With stress and emotion in check, you’ll be aware of nonverbal signals that inform and empower successful communication. As you develop the capacity to recognize and understand your own emotions, you’ll automatically find it easier to recognize what other people are experiencing emotionally.  You’ll be able to speak with greater intensity and listen with greater accuracy. You will also be able to tell when people say one thing but mean another, and it will become easier to understand why people react to you as they do.

Further, as you bring stress into balance and learn to tolerate emotions you don’t like, you’ll discover that your capacity for experiencing positive emotions has grown and intensified. You will find it easier to play, laugh, and experience positive emotions like joy. Life will get lighter and brighter.

Even when life is unpleasant or difficult, you’ll find that conflict with others is less threatening. Once you know how to remain emotionally present and manage stress, you can avoid overreacting in emotionally charged situations. Even when painful memories surface, the ability to manage stress and take emotions in stride will help you separate the past from what the present. Believe it or not, resolving conflict can improve a relationship and strengthen the bond between two people. When you manage conflict in a healthy, positive way, you can create a deep level of trust and help your personal and professional relationships to flourish.

Watch the video: It’s up to you

To read a transcript of this video, click here.

If the videos don’t play in your Firefox browser, please try using Google Chrome or Internet Explorer.

Next step

Having completed the toolkit, you may need additional help with personal or family issues. With more than 200 articles and other resources, RecoveryHelp offers you all the insight and support you need to address your mental and emotional health challenges.


I’d like to acknowledge the following people whose dogged determination, creativity, and caring have made this online toolkit a reality: Adrian Tarango, Greg Boose, Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, and Robert Segal.

– Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Toolkit Author

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. Last updated: May 2015.