How to Measure Your Emotional Bandwidth

Broad bandwidth for cell phones went to 5G in late February in this part of AZ. I just traded in an old iPhone 6, and when I looked at the bars of signal strength, there it was: 5G. Oxford Dictionary gives two definitions:   

  1. A range of frequencies within a given band that is used for transmitting a signal. The transmission capacity of a computer network or other telecommunication system.
  2. The energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.

There it was…an alternative definition applicable to my life. How does one measure mental capacity required to deal with a situation? Is it IQ capacity? Is it spiritual capacity? Then we have that famous book, Emotional IQ: is it our emotional capacity? And the word “energy” was offered as an evaluative tool: what kind of energy? Emotional energy? Spiritual energy? Physical energy…am I too tired, too wired?

Quite complex, it appears. Where would you go to find your energy or mental capacity to deal with a situation? Maybe more questions bring clarity. Emotional bandwidth is the ability to honestly catch up on your emotional state.

How do you listen to yourself? Do you listen to what your mind is saying, linear thinking? Do you have a place in your body where you know something is right or wrong, called “gut feeling?” Do you identify your intuition a certain way? I can’t answer one of these questions for you. You must do the work.

So I offer a simple tool to assist us at any time to assess our “emotional bandwidth.” Using this tool helps me take a step back, see where my emotional center is and make wiser choices, possibly to wait a while for that hard conversation, get something to eat if I am hungry and ignoring that hunger edge, maybe I am overextended. Here is how to use the Emotional Bandwidth Tool
Bandwidth 5: I am rested, refreshed, and able to focus and respond without feeling put upon, angry or testy.

Bandwidth 4: I am aware I feel somewhat irritated, that I am being bothered, but I can respond appropriately. I know I need to take a break, drink some fluids, maybe eat lunch. Space to regroup.

Bandwidth 3: I am edgy, having trouble concentrating, and don’t really want to be participating in this conversation/event. I am not actively listening, out ahead of the person talking, thinking of what I will respond. I might have a headache and not ask for the break I need to regroup.

Bandwidth 2: I am sharp in my responses, not focused, blaming others for what is happening or what I am experiencing. I am tired and ignoring it. I am over-committed and ignoring that, as well. I keep pushing, but feel like I am moving through mud.

Bandwidth 1: My mind and body are screaming: “Please, not one more request of me, I can’t even do the list I have.” I have no coping skills for emotional conversations. I really want to be left alone. In the past, I have called this place for myself “emotionally thin,” not much reserve left to give to anyone. A clear message that self-care needs to be a priority and a plan for that put into action.

So, let’s do an experiment together. Pick 1-2 people with whom you agree to share where you are on your Emotional Band Width Scale. Just a fun project to help you take a pause and look at your response to life. Want to be 5G…good goal. But life happens – bumps in the road – and I can’t be Pollyanna when I don’t feel that way. So being honest about my Emotional Bandwidth will benefit those with whom I interact and help me be more balanced with self-care, able to respond to support others when I pay attention.

© Kay F. Klinkenborg, MA   June  of 2022

Spiritual Companion

Retired RN, LMFT, Clinical Member AAMFT