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Relearning Emotional Expression

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"Most baby boomers were raised in an era that didn't encourage awareness or expression of emotion.

It's a sad comment on our society that children too often lose the powerful skills of expressing their emotions as they grow older.

Most baby boomers were raised in an era that didn't encourage awareness or expression of emotions. Boys who cried were scolded for showing weakness. One time I remember climbing a rock face and being stricken by fear about 10 feet from the top. The person coaching me was encouraging me to keep going but I couldn't.

I had lost my confidence to climb.

As I was holding on to the face of that cliff, I held back my tears. But after realizing no one would hear me, I gave in to the urge to cry. So there I was, 60 feet in the air hanging on for dear life and having a big cry. At the time it didn't make any sense to my rational mind, but a few minutes later I found that the debilitating effects of fear had evaporated and I had the courage to continue moving towards the top.

In the months following this event, I had several revelations about giving myself permission to cry and about how it can reduce the debilitating illusionary effects of fear, anger and sadness. (Next time, you're feeling stuck, give crying a try!)

Emotions create moods within us that can shift our perspective on a situation or they can create illusions that debilitate us and stop us dead in our tracks. Understanding and changing our behaviour comes from understanding and processing our emotions.

Can you catch yourself being insensitive or rude? You may be experiencing anger. Do you ever act in a controlling or intimidating manner? You may be experiencing fear. Next time you're feeling confident and motivated, you're most likely experiencing one of your most empowering emotions: joy.

In the past few years, the whole subject of emotional awareness and expression has become mainstream in society. The challenge many of us still face in expressing our emotions is that our childhood programming impairs our ability to experience the healthiness of emotional awareness and expression. Yet study after study indicates that people with high emotional intelligence (possessing the ability to be aware of your emotions and managing them) experience a higher quality of life in relationships and career.

A recent paper written by one of world's largest human resource consulting firms, the Hay Group, indicated that corporations who once ranked the IQ (intelligence quotient) of prospective employees now seek employees with high EQ (emotional quotient).

Some people have high levels of emotional awareness, others have low levels, and the rest fall somewhere in between. How advanced you are on the emotional maturity chart is not as important as asking yourself whether you are growing, stuck or moving backwards. Any effort you invest in increasing your emotional health will be one of the greatest things you can do to improve your physical health, relationships and performance at work. Think about it. It's not a feeling. It's a fact.

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