Dr Jim’s reposted blog from December 2013

Some of the blogs I posted in the past have become unavailable, because of moving from one web address to another.  And I think some of my earlier blogs are too good to throw away.  So here is one from December 2013, on Emotional literacy:

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Achieving emotional literacy, by Dr Claude Steiner…

New Year’s Eve

The opening pages of Achieving Emotional Literacy

By Jim Byrne, 31st December 2013

claude-steiner.jpgI could not wait, so I decided to nibble at the beginnings of Dr Claude Steiner’s book (on emotional literacy), so I don’t keep you waiting too long…

In the introduction to this book, Claude Steiner describes how he was raised as a traditional European male in Mexico City – ignoring his own emotions and the emotions of the people in his life.  He then trained as a scientist, which took him further from his emotional nature.  He goes on to ask: “What was this state of deep emotional literacy like?  Looking back, I see myself as someone who had infatuations but no real attachments, who had little respect, regret, or guilt when it came to the way I treated others.  I never felt sustained joy, and I never remembered any of my dreams.  I never cried.  Although I have a respectable IQ, when I look back at myself I see an emotional imbecile, a young man with a very low EQ (or emotional quotient)”.  (Pages 1-2).

I found this statement most interesting, because it seemed to me to echo some of the things I have learned about the early life of Dr Albert Ellis, the creator of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), who – once upon a time – had a profound effect upon my philosophy of life, (but not any more!)  Ellis did not cry; did not admit his tender emotions; did not have a deep attachment to anybody; and may have been somewhere on the Asperger spectrum – somewhat autistic.

Assessing and describing my own EQ

I could also modify that statement to describe my own EQ in the early decades of my life:

“…I see myself as someone who had unexpressed infatuations but no real attachments, who was very avoidant of others (like Albert Ellis); and full of fear and apprehension.  I never felt sustained joy, and I never remembered any of my dreams.  I never cried.  Although I have a respectable IQ, when I look back at myself I see an emotional imbecile, a young man with a very low EQ (or emotional quotient)”.

I should also add that I was rarely conscious of where I was, or what I was thinking or feeling.

(However, now, years later, as a result of a lot of self-development work, and some counselling and therapy, I have achieved a respectable level of EQ, and can regulate my own emotions very well! :-))

The journey towards higher EQ, or higher emotional literacy, is about three things: “…the ability to understand your emotions, the ability to listen to others and to empathize with their emotions, and the ability to express emotions productively”. (Page11).

Now assess yourself

Exercise 1: For the readers of this blog: Try to recall your own early life, say from age 12 to 32, and ask yourself: ‘How much of Claude Steiner’s self-assessment applies in my own case?’  Write down your answers.

Ask yourself: How far is this description from how I would like to be living now?  And what can I do to change?

~~~

Increasing your personal power

Some people seek to gain power by becoming financially successful, and rising through the ranks of large organizations.  However, this is not a particularly satisfying activity for most people.  Most people would however like to have good relationships and enjoyable work.  This, according to Steiner, would help us to feel a sense of personal power.

The price of poor emotional literacy is “the repeated experience of interpersonal failure (which) is a source of hopelessness and depression”. (Page 3).

Exercise 2: On a scale of 1-10, just how happy are you with the quality of your interpersonal relationships?

If some are good and some are bad, separate them out and rank each of them on a scale of 1-10, where 10 = ‘happy, mutually enjoyable communication’; and 1 = ‘distant, unhappy, uncooperative encounters’.

Are you willing to commit yourself to learning how to communicate more emotionally intelligently?  If so, this blog will help you, over the next few weeks.

~~~

That’s all for today.

Happy New Year!

Best wishes for a more personally powerful 2014!

Jim

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