Exploring emotional intelligence and literacy through the years, I have over time developed a process called FEEL that provides a clear way to uncover stuck, unexpressed or unwanted emotions and create new understanding.
Because emotional knowledge is a rich inner resource of understanding, resiliency and communication, learning how to FEEL is a whole self, active participation endeavor.
FEEL = Focused Experience with Emotional Literacy
I favor the word literacy over intelligence because there is an ongoing learning that is fostered with the word literate. It is not only an effort to know the basics, but to be deeply committed to gaining knowledge, recognizing and valuing that emotional learning is an ongoing commitment and practice that will support ones own ability to shift experience and find flow.
The idea of developing an ever growing understanding of emotions can be held as focused experience, or an evolutionary process of discovering “what it is” and finding reflective language to express ‘that which we are experiencing’, at any given time.
Our emotional experience is fluid, experienced differently at different times. Our emotions move through us and are recognized through different sensing systems, not always in regular or determined ways. Emotional content in our lives is noticed through various sensing systems, they include: somatic or embodied, intellectual, memory based, psychological, energetic, psyche or soul and blended experiences where two or more of these markers converge.
Each of these areas offer real experiences but the human condition invites us to make meaning and avoid discomfort. At best emotional experiences are are confused and diffuse, in charged or traumatic situations fight or flight kick in and we run. Rarely are our emotional experiences focused.
FEEL works to redefine experience by focusing our attention into our own range of emotions that have been hidden, disowned, activated reaction, are reflected by avoidance or have created confusion. Experiential expression, exposing edges and embracing vulnerability offer the keys to discovery. Redefining emotional experience is found within the meanings and narratives that are attached to memory. They can be untethered and re-connected forward to new experiential outcomes. Clarifying ones stories will assist in understanding individual emotions.
FEEL is as an experiential process of focusing emotional content, exploring a specific emotion or feeling state using language, image or metaphor. Exploring or unpacking the experience of specific situations, relationships and circumstances, opens up a defined space for recognizing where emotional content may be held. Understanding the nuances of an emotional state is assisted by developing a personal language for the specific feelings, rather than running and numbing. Ultimately by developing focused experiences of emotional content, dynamic change is activated through resiliency, clarity and responsiveness.
My own experience with early childhood emotions, that were bypassed due to adoption, left me with certain feeling states that were unexpressed. A general fear of strong emotions in myself, and in others, followed me into adulthood. Experiencing emotions such as grief, loss and fear as an infant, were certainly felt but never offered any space to be acknowledged, understood or remembered over time. They impacted every aspect of my emotional literacy and ability to navigate life. I was emotionally lost as I moved through my early years and turned to strategies and substitutions to soothe my feelings.
Remembered or not, there was a void. At a young age, I was offered an alternate story that smoothed over my experience and created a facade. It took me decades to begin to look underneath that facade to explore what was there, seeking the details of my lost emotions helped me to connect with the swinging beliefs, expectations and reactions to emotional challenge. Developing my own language as I explored the essence of the FEEL method became more focused over time. My process included using image, metaphor, words and symbolism, before moving into a narrative that led me to understand the emotions and the stories underneath, offering space to reconnect and become more conscious. Only then did I have the space to define and work with clear emotional understanding.
To be able to manage our emotions in a healthy and productive way, we must be able to accurately identify our emotional or feeling state. Without getting lost in the feeling, it is important to acknowledge and get curious about the message the feeling state has brought. This frees us up to get on with our beautiful life, on the way to being fully integrated and empowered in present time. – Sacha Sterling
As the FEEL method expands emotional literacy, so to self referencing and emotional mastery emerges. The willingness to be vulnerable and feel emotions that are not easy is the key to cracking our own emotional code.
Once discovered and reclaimed each emotion is unlocked and can be fully expressed in ways that will support, rather than block, our life. Courage and curiosity allow us to focus emotional experiences and grow to trust previously misunderstood stories and feeling states. When enriched with knowledge and understanding, ones emotional literacy will continue to grow, support and celebrate full expression of the life journey unfolding.