In one of the previous blog posts we talked about emotional intelligence and its components, one of which is self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the basis for all the other EI components. For example, to be able to manage emotions, you first need to be able to understand them. Also, to be able to understand emotions in others, you need to be able to have awareness about your own emotions - otherwise you wouldn’t be able to empathize.

Therefore, if you’re trying to improve your emotional intelligence, you should start with self-awareness. There are many ways to do this, and today we’ll be talking about one exercise that I found extremely useful. It’s called the mood diary.

All you have to do is to use a journal to track your moods, thoughts and emotions. You should do this at least three times a day (if you’re a high achiever like me you may want to do it hourly, especially in the beginning 😊). You don’t need to write a lot, just a couple of sentences to describe your current mood and what you’re thinking about.

Once you do this for a couple of weeks you can go back and analyze the data that you’ve captured. You may be able to identify certain patterns in your moods/thinking, as well as become aware of various pain points, which you can now address consciously. You may also notice that one day you were feeling very joyful, and then try to figure out what exactly made you feel that way, and incorporate more of that in your life.

Even if you’ve done this exercise before, I encourage you to do it again. Our cognitive and emotional patterns change over time, and doing this exercise again can not just illuminate new blind spots, but also reveal the differences between our old and present selves and help us course-correct if needed.