Emotional Literacy of the Heart

by Catherine DeAngelis

“The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a Jay and which is a Sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.”   Eric Berne

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Emotional Literacy is a serious concern today. Being able to recognize, understand and effectively express emotions are a responsible part of learning life skills. Like we learn to manage relationships, work, finances, physical health and spiritual growth, human emotion is just as relevant. Understanding emotions are vital and can overwhelm to comfort us at various times in either a negative or in a positive way.

Emotional health is a critical part of everyone’s well-being. Knowing our emotions are key to success in life. If we want to make a life filled with wholesome well-being, joyousness and peace — at any age it is important to know them, and to know how to manage them.

Research proves many concerns of modern society may result in people being unable to understand and appropriately express emotion. The freedom that comes from being emotionally literate is being able to own it.

The technological world has grown exponentially and moving at a speed greater than ever been seen before in human history. Emotional literacy is just as excruciatingly a vital preventive tool. And when well understood, it can solve various social ills from violence, abuse, illness, dysfunctional relationships, and societal conflicts.

Since the 1960s, a world of experts have exploded with curiosity in forming opinions to suggested disciplines and modalities around emotional intelligence.

Emotional literacy expert, Claude Steiner, PhD in his bookEmotional Literacy with Heart“Emotional Literacy; Intelligence with a Heart,” says if you practice the three emotional strategies discussed in his book—opening the heart, surveying the emotional landscape, and taking responsibility—you will see dramatic changes in your emotional awareness, attitude, and in particular, Steiner writes you will learn:

  • “How to know what you want and what you feel; how to be truthful about your emotions; how to pursue fulfillment of your emotional needs.
  • How to manage your emotions creatively; when to hold back and when to express your feelings.
  • How to deal with emotional numbness or turmoil.
  • How to apply your knowledge of emotions at work, at home, in school, in social groups, and “on the street” to improve and deepen your relationships and forge long-lasting, honest connections with people.
  • How to practice a love-centered approach to personal power in a society that is moving in the direction of mistrust, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”

We’ve come a long way from IQ being the only standard form for determining human excellence!

Steiner professes he is not an intellectual expert. And, he shares how Research leads us into the wrong direction to prove happiness doesn’t just come from having a high IQ.  For example, what he says is if we have a high IQ (intelligence quotient), it’s more likely we will do well in school and become productive, successful, and a good learner. Not only that, he claims, with a high IQ, we are told we’ll probably have a long life and good health.

In spite of the resistance shown in some of the world’s largest corporations, employers continue to battle it out to hire people with the highest IQ. However, Emotional Intelligence is ringing louder and louder at the boardroom tables forcing an arena of intelligentsia to listen up!

Emotional Intelligence, such as optimism, working with others, and empathy or compassion, are on the top 10 for ‘will hire,’ by employers today.

Parent Child and Adult

For the inquiring intellects, you’ll discover Emotional Intelligence borrows from other areas of behavioural, emotional and communications theories from Albert Ellis to Alfred Adler.

Steiner’s mentor is Eric Berne, Canadian-born psychiatrist known as creator of Transactional Analysis, and author of Games People Play. Berne brought us the concept of ego states to explain how humans are and how we relate to others and ways we think, feel and behave — derived from our states: “PAC: parent, adult, and child.”

Steiner welcomes Daniel Goleman’s insight on Emotional Intelligence to prove having emotional insight is as key to success as a high IQ. Not only that, he shows that you need emotional intelligence to live a “good life”—one that allows you to enjoy the riches of the spirit. To live well, he says, you need not only a high IQ but a high EQ (emotional quotient).

Some of us were taught as a child that talking about feelings or emotions were a sign of weakness. What are you feeling and what does that mean?  We learn to turn feelings off, and why?  “Buck up, boys and girls don’t cry, toughen up – ah stop being a sissy.”  Do any of these remind you of what is whirling around in your head?

We cannot have EQ or Emotional literacy if we don’t know how we feel, think and behave — our thoughts will drive our actions and our behaviours. Good emotional health is being aware of emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviors, all part of working at keeping levels of stress in check. (APA).

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Take this EMOTIONAL AWARENESS QUIZ:

Please answer the questions either yes or no truthfully.

1.  Do you do any of these in excess e.g. drink, gamble, smoke, exercise, eat, have sex or engage in recreational drugs?  — Yes or No?

2.  Do you isolate yourself or feel like you do not belong or disconnected from others?  — Yes or No?

3. Do you feel sad all of the time and don’t know why? — Yes or No?

4. Do you get easily angry, impatient, intolerant or find yourself bullying others? — Yes or No?

5. Do find yourself catching up on years of crying over a loss – any loss? — Yes or No?

6. Do you walk around unaware of how to get beyond what the emotions inside of you are telling you? — Yes or No?

7. Do you think it is better to suppress, hold back emotions because it shows as a sign of weakness? — Yes or No?

8. Do you know how to name your emotions to help you better manage and control them? — Yes or No?

9. Do you know too little about your emotions, as something is bothering you yet don’t know what to do? Yes or No?

10. Do you act happy all of the time when you are anxious, scared, lonely, discouraged? — Yes or No?

RESULTS: If you answer yes to 3 or more of these questions and no to all of the others, it is likely you are unaware of emotions. These emotions that are not brought forth from the inside out likely hold you back. Withheld emotions can impede health, and can hinder you from receiving the fulfillment you need to reach your goals and enjoy life to its utmost.

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