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!


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