Have you ever wondered how you can develop your self-awareness and consequently interpersonal skills?
This is your chance to do it by mastering SEL, standing for Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). Let’s dive deeper into SEL and see what it really means!
SEL is the process to develop self-awareness and optimize your interpersonal skills. As the name indicates, Social-Emotional Learning, helps you understand your own emotions and cope with them in your everyday life. As you may have already discovered, the learning and development of this skill is a crucial part of your personal growth as you navigate situations in your personal and professional life.
Key characteristics of SEL development
Self-understanding is the process of looking deeper into yourself and realizing what your emotions are and what your main triggers are. As a result you will come to better know your limits, as well as what makes you feel happy and fulfilled. A good example of this is learning to identify behaviors of people around you that significantly drags you down or alternatively really helps you feel happy in your day-to-day life. You might have a colleague who is extremely negative, or who complains easily, and you start recognizing that this repetitive behavior is influencing your mood. This is
a great step of self-understanding. By starting to identify these triggers, you will begin to improve your emotions and your limits. You will start to seek out more positive triggers and subsequently more positive emotions.
This process will lead you to looking at yourself through a much better lens. You can start developing a more positive mental image of yourself by, developing a newer, more positive vocabulary to define for yourself. If you are curious on how to work on it, here are some tips!
Start by noting your top positive qualities, and think about how you can use them in your everyday life. (e.g., take time to self-reflect and write down your 10 top strengths, then reflect how practically you are using them in your everyday life)
Start using positive affirmations in your daily life. We highly recommend using them every morning in order to set the pace and mindset for the rest of your day. (e.g., you can do this by following guided affirmations, or by writing your own in the present tense)
Start practicing self-love activities. (e.g., do a self-care routine, buy yourself flowers, etc.)
Take responsibility for your actions
Taking responsibility for your actions means that you realize that for everything that you live you play a role, and consequently you have a responsibility for the outcome. If you are wondering how this can translate into concrete action, here are some examples:
You recognize how your own actions and decisions affected or led to a specific situation and/or outcome.
You don’t focus on excuses about what happened, but rather looking for solutions.
You move from a denial phase of responsibility to a more action-oriented one.
Connect with people around you
Connecting genuinely with people around you is proven to be one of the best decisions you ever make (even if you are an introvert). It can be as simple as starting to smile more at the people around you. When you are paying at the supermarket, try saying thank you to the cashier with a big smile. Or, when your partner makes you a cup of coffee, smile and thank them truthfully. You can contribute honestly in a conversation, by simply introducing one very small but important topic to you. For example, “I love any outdoor activities, hiking especially is my absolute favorite. What’s your favorite?” This can be the first milestone in starting a genuine relationship.
These are just some of the most important aspects when it comes to SEL development. At the heart of it, empathy is a key characteristic for your personal development and a much needed one in the modern times we live in. By developing SEL, you also develop your empathy towards the people around you, by better managing and understanding your own emotions. You can set and achieve goals in a practical and disciplined manner, and not let your own emotions burden you unnecessarily.
How to practice SEL
Now that you understand SEL better, you might say, “Nice theory, how can I do that?”. That’s the right mindset! Without action and implementation you can’t develop ourselves.
Below are some easy ways to start implementing Social-Emotional Learning in your daily life.
You need to write your feelings down. By describing exactly what you felt, and what triggered you… This practice will help you realize your own emotions daily and how they are initiated. Important Note! This does not concern only our negative feelings (e.g., anxiety, fear, etc.), but also our positive ones - journal all of the emotions that you feel. It is the first step in recognizing that all of our feelings are important
and equal, and you should not focus on only one side of them.
Another step you can follow is to make space for and take feedback from people that you really trust. You can take a small step and open up and ask people that care for your questions that will help you understand yourself better (e.g., What do you admire the most about my character?, What do you dislike the most about my character?). Be prepared, you may never have thought about these things, such as your flaws and what to do about them. Keep them with you, process them, and think about if you would keep them or throw them away.
One more piece of advice is to shape your own vocabulary, boosting the ways you refer to yourself and your actions. For example, instead of “I am not good at all at this thing,.”, change your attitude, put a large smile on your face and say, “Oh! How can I improve at this?”. Instead of “I am so tired, I am just giving up,”, change your attitude, put a large smile on your face and say, “Hmm, I may not have tried every method yet. Let me try a different way.”. Instead of “I failed.”, change your attitude, put a large smile on your face and say, “Mistakes are part of the learning process, and I am a great learner.”.
There are many more ways to grow your social and emotional skill-set, and these are some of the key steps to get you started. You do not have to throw yourself into everything at once. What is important is to kick-start the process. Start today, create a routine, keep a steady pace, and you will soon start seeing the change. If your goal is to grow, always remember that creating new habits and patterns of behavior requires time and consistency.*
Feel free to share your own journeys and reflections, or your own ideas of SEL(f) development with us in the comments below!
*To learn more about creating habits, you can pre-register to the Hack Your Mindset Course by Sofia Kakkava