3362 Big Pine Trail, Suite A, Champaign, Illinois 61822

Success, whether personal or professional, is influenced by your emotional intelligence. 

Some experts say that emotional intelligence can be equally, if not more important than IQ. From your relationships to your goals, emotional intelligence ultimately plays a role in every aspect of your life. 

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, or EI, was developed by John Salavoy and John Mayer, two social psychologists. They described it as the ability to recognize, interpret, express, and regulate your own emotions, recognize those of others, and understand how your emotions affect those around you. Their work is responsible for the increased interest in emotional intelligence, from the workplace to the school curriculum.


Unlike IQ, you can learn emotional intelligence at any time. Here are 7 tips for raising your emotional intelligence:

  1. Acknowledge and name your emotions. Emotions aren't black or white, positive or negative. They are a source of information that supports you in becoming self-aware.  When we pay attention to them, we learn to trust our emotions and become more skilled at handling them. 

  2. Get curious. Whenever you have an emotional reaction, you receive information about it. Get curious about what the purpose of each emotion is, whether it’s to warn you of something threatening or inform you of a pleasant experience. Your reaction may come from the current situation or serve as a reminder of a painful experience from the past. 

  3. It's not what you say; it's how you say it. Body language, the tone you use, and eye contact are all informants of how you feel internally.  It's impossible to avoid sending these messages. The number of muscles around your eyes, nose, mouth, and forehead helps you communicate your emotions and read those of other people. The emotional part of your brain, otherwise known as the limbic system, is always on. Even if you ignore its messages—you can't ignore how these messages present to others around you. Recognizing them can play a huge part in improving your relationships.
  1. Respond, don’t react. There's a subtle but important difference between the two. Reacting is an unconscious process. When we experience an uncomfortable emotional trigger, we immediately respond to eliminate the discomfort it causes. Responding, on the other hand, is a conscious, mindful process. It involves acknowledging and observing how you feel, then deciding how you want to proceed. If you raise your voice when you're angry or withdraw from others when feeling insecure, observe those emotions next time. Recognize how they're connected with your actions. 

  2. Be assertive. Assertive communication is about communicating your needs while acknowledging and respecting the needs of others. Rather than being passive or aggressive, assertiveness asks you to use your words clearly and directly. As you become more aware of your emotions, you'll be able to assert yourself in a way that strengthens and deepens your relationships.

  3. Practice empathy. Be open-minded and try to understand why other people feel the way they do.   Remember that there are various ways of looking at any situation. When someone doesn't react the same way, consider why, and try to see it from their perspective.

  4. Take responsibility. You're the only one that's responsible for your feelings, actions, and responses. Once you start holding yourself accountable and stop blaming others for the way you feel, you'll notice a positive impact on all areas of your life.

Working on improving your emotional intelligence isn’t always easy. It’s a skill that takes time to develop. But by practicing and implementing some of the tools mentioned, you’ll start to notice positive changes in the way you understand yourself and those around you.


Embarrassment is usually associated with negative events, such as making mistakes in social situations or at work. What can make it particularly difficult to deal with is that embarrassment often shows on the outside. Blushing, looking down and covering your face with your hands are all typical signs of the feeling, and are often automatic reactions. Yet, could embarrassment be a positive thing?

Genuine and Trustworthy

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that feelings of embarrassment are often signs that a person is genuine and trustworthy: "...although people may feel bad when left red-faced, the trait has many positive connotations." It's not necessarily that people who don't get embarrassed never make mistakes, rather that they don't really care.

Consider a situation where two coworkers assigned to the same project find they've made a big mistake that will be difficult to fix. One is mortified, saying they can't believe they could make such a stupid mistake and feeling guilty for the damage it could cause the company. The other acts coolly, shrugging it off and saying it will be fine. Which seems the more considerate of the two?

Controlling Embarrassment

That said, becoming embarrassed too often and too severely can have negative consequences. Many introvert types find that they're often embarrassed, which makes them less willing to engage with other people and be confident at work. A happy medium is to recognize embarrassment and acknowledge mistakes, but not let that stop you from taking calculated risks. The alternative, which is never being embarrassed or acknowledging that mistakes happen, leads to an inconsiderate and selfish personality. As Susan Cain notes in her book on introversion, Quiet, when it comes to embarrassment, "It's better to mind too much than to mind too little."

A person who's embarrassed cares about how they act in social situations. They're aware of expectations and are self-conscious when they know they've broken them. Many people lament their own bouts of embarrassment but perhaps could learn to embrace these feelings. These are signs that they're socially intelligent individuals who care what others think about them. Indeed, embarrassment is often linked to feelings of pride or lack thereof. Perceived loss of face when a person's pride is damaged can also be a reflection of their personal level of self-respect.

Accepting Slip-Ups

No one is perfect. Even great presidents, movie stars, and athletes make occasional mistakes. In fact, it's those that admit they're wrong and apologize to those they have harmed through error that people tend to respect the most. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" can be a good adage to live by if considered as a measured level of risk-taking. Putting yourself out there to be scrutinized by bosses, co-workers, friends or family is scary, but it's part of growing as a person.

Being aware of physiological responses can help you to understand what it means to be embarrassed and how to keep it to a healthy level. Blushing can't be helped. It happens because your nervous system responds to perceived embarrassment and causes blood vessels to widen. This causes a reddening of the face which many people feel only worsens the impact of an embarrassing situation.

Accept that this is a natural reaction that can't be helped, and is nothing to be ashamed of. It simply means you care enough to have a reaction when you've made a mistake. Recognize any other nervous tics you may have, such as turning your head down. This can look passive, and as a natural reaction is also okay. Just ensure you're not doing it excessively and making yourself feel worse about the situation than necessary. Accept you've made an embarrassing error, then hold your head up high and decide how you're going to fix it.

Social Contexts

If you find yourself embarrassed more often than you'd like, identify situations where you feel this way. Perhaps you feel you say the wrong things on dates, or make more mistakes when you're stressed at work. By pro-actively looking at ways to avoid failure in the future, embarrassing situations can be avoided in the first place. Practicing calming exercises when you're overwhelmed can be a great way of leveling stress to avoid losing focus, for example.

Embarrassment may have become part of human psychology as a means of maintaining order in social situations. As people developed complex societies over time, it became necessary to enforce certain rules to ensure social cohesion. Eventually, these became the laws and social norms we live by today. When we perceive ourselves as trespassing these rules, embarrassment can occur. This reaction is an opportunity to recognize mistakes, learn from them, and try to avoid repeating them for the sake of society as a whole.

Embarrassment is a powerful emotion, and one people often try to avoid at all costs. However, it's good to embrace the knowledge that it can have a positive effect on the way you live your life. Learn from mistakes and remain considerate of the effects your actions have on others. You'll be a far more productive member of society than someone who never feels embarrassed or acknowledges their errors. Embarrassment can be a good thing, just make sure it's not stopping you from achieving your full potential.



An anxiety attack is a frightening experience.  Your heart races, your breath becomes short, and you feel a sense of dread -- even if you have no reason to.  You may not always be able to avoid an anxiety attack, but there are steps you can take to calm yourself down and feel better during one.  One of these ways is through grounding yourself to the present.

Grounding yourself to the present is helpful because people often feel anxious about things that happened in the past or will happen in the future.  By reminding yourself that you are in the present, where nothing can hurt you, you can help yourself overcome the attack.  The easiest way to achieve this is to focus on your senses and how they are experiencing the world around you.  Not only will this help to keep you in the present, but it will also help to distract your thoughts away from the anxiety attack.

First, focus on what you are seeing.  If you are in a room, notice what color the walls are, how many windows there are, and what sorts of decorations might be hanging on the walls.  See if there is anything unusual or interesting about the room you are in.  If it helps, you can say what you notice out loud.

Next, focus on listening.  It's easy for many people to become so distracted by tasks or entertainment that they don't stop to listen to the ambiance of a room.  Is there a clock ticking?  Water dripping from a fountain or fish tank?  Maybe there is noise coming from outside.  Try to listen to as much as you can until you can't notice anything else.

Now move on to your sense of smell.  Although not always the case, different rooms, buildings, and locations often have a unique scent to them.  Is there anything unique about the smell of where you are?  Perhaps you can smell food, or maybe furniture polish or clean laundry.

Finally, if you have improved so far, you can try to explore with your sense of touch.  Your hands are almost always touching something.  Maybe the bed, a chair, a wall, or your clothes.  How would you describe the texture of what you are feeling?  Soft?  Hard?  Smooth?  Fuzzy?  Feel its temperature as well.

Engaging all your senses like this should take a few moments.  Hopefully, by the time you've finished, you'll feel better.  Remember, if you feel anxious often and it's interfering with your life, you may want to see a doctor for other treatment methods. 

Anxiety and panic disorders are chronic conditions that can make it difficult to live a normal life, hold down a job or even leave the house. Bad habits can trigger anxiety, leading to a distressing cycle that keeps you stuck and can even lead to other mental health problems. Breaking these bad habits can be the starting point for beating chronic anxiety and reclaiming your life.

Shallow Breathing

Shallow and fast breathing leads to hyperventilation and causes a wide range of symptoms, including breathlessness, choking sensations, chest pain, muscle weakness and tingling in the lips, fingers and legs.  Hyperventilation can trigger panic attacks and is a common cause, as well as a symptom, of anxiety. Retraining your breathing and learning to take slow, deep breaths can take time, as bad breathing habits are hard to break.

Avoidance of Triggers

Avoiding triggers that cause or worsen the symptoms of anxiety is a natural reaction, but it can make the problem worse. For example, if large crowds of people make you feel anxious, it's natural to avoid busy shopping malls, birthday parties and other social events. However, when you avoid doing something you're afraid of, the fear tends to get bigger and stronger.

Exposure therapy can be useful for many people who use avoidance to cope with anxiety. Exposure therapy is often combined with other cognitive therapies and works by gradually increasing your exposure to the situations or objects you're afraid of. The therapist will help to support and encourage you throughout the process.

Excessive Worrying

Excessive worrying is a common problem, especially for people with anxiety disorders. Some people worry about specific things or events, while others worry continuously about many different things.

Worrying about things that are beyond your control makes you feel helpless and worsens the symptoms of anxiety. Sometimes, identifying and labeling your worries can be enough to make them lose their power. Writing your worries down or talking them over with a friend or therapist can also help to put things into perspective.

Watching the News

Focusing on negative events leads to negative thoughts and feelings. Positive stories rarely make the news headlines, which means that watching or reading the news often makes anxiety worse.

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to avoid the news completely. Social media and other online platforms produce a steady stream of negative news stories, making it difficult to combat chronic anxiety. Limiting your exposure to news coverage is one of the best things you can do when trying to overcome anxiety.

Eating the Wrong Foods

Diet plays an important role in the prevention of anxiety and panic attacks. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for good mental health. It also helps to prevent nutritional deficiencies, which can sometimes be responsible for anxiety-like symptoms.

Some foods can even cause anxiety. Food and drink containing caffeine and some artificial additives are well-known for making anxiety worse, but any food that causes a reaction can be a trigger. If you believe certain foods could be triggering your anxiety, try keeping a food diary to look for patterns.

Finally, anxiety can be caused or made worse by negative beliefs and distorted thought processes. Changing these beliefs and thoughts can be extremely difficult, so it's usually best to seek the help of a therapist. Cognitive and talking therapies can make a big difference and help to speed up your recovery.


About Insight Therapy

Insight Therapy is a professional mental health private practice located in Champaign - Urbana. Insight Therapy offers individual therapy, couples counseling, family counseling, and professional mediation services to clients of all ages and issues.

Contact Information

Insight Therapy, LLC
3362 Big Pine Trail
Suite A
Champaign, Illinois 61822

Phone: (217) 383-0151
Fax: (217) 633-4555

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Practice Areas

Depression, Anxiety, Trauma, Addiction, Couples Counseling, Eating Disorders, Sexual Abuse Survivor, School Anxiety, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, BiPolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, Family Issues, Couples Counseling, Mediation, and more!