• Kay Reeve

What is Emotional Awareness and is it different from Emotional Intelligence?

A question I hear often - what is Emotional Awareness? Or what is different between that and Emotional Intelligence?

There are many terms used including emotional literacy, EQ, and IQ as well as good old fashioned wisdom, but they are all in the same boat.

They are all about ways to understand emotions and to learn ways of managing them. Emotional Awareness builds building empathy and understanding, eventually leading to levels of being able to positively manage and even manipulate situations at leadership levels, rather than negatively manipulate situations and other people as in the various forms of abuse.

Wow, yes there it is - abuse - and the difference between abuse and corruptions over leadership and management, is often how an individual manages their emotions and projects them onto others, rather than what they know about their job. Even the most intelligent of people can lack emotional intelligence.

Emotions, consciousness, and control build in layers as you grow. From being a baby who knows only hungry and tired amidst windy pain, but is unaware of any emotions at a conscious level - to a child who becomes aware that they can talk, ask, and then they learn the word NO.

Now they have meltdown's repeatedly around the terrible two's. They have not yet been taught strategies for coping with the emotions that follow rejection or denial or how to turn failure into a new challenge. For most children this is a difficult phase but they are naturally resilient at this stage and soon bounce back. They magnificently fail forward without doubting their ability to keep growing and learning.

Next few years and a child will learn to bargain, lie, rationalise and other strategies as part of that learning. How that is responded to by adults will affect how they develop as a personality. If they lie and it is overlooked while being rewarded, they will continue to do so. If they are overly reprimanded they may live in fear and hold back, or many nuances in between. The same of every trait they develop and the responses they encounter.

By the time children are about 9 or 10 years old, they are aware of their own body physically, their own internal feelings and emotions, and those of the people around them. They are even aware to some degree of the emotions that affect the nations outside their own little world. They are aware of a past and a future. They can offer sympathy, empathy, ask rational questions, even offer sensible debate on some levels according to their own knowledge and environment.

High school onwards has the biggest impact of all, with social skills being the key focus of their daily arrival, often heeding their education when it fails miserably in person - and in today's world - online too.

As adults, there is a vast variety of difference in how those 9 - 10 year old's branched out into life. Most will advance their educational intelligence and life experience, learning along the way, while others will fall to a life of destruction and negative emotions.

Emotions for centuries have not been focused on as a specific learning topic unless you are a philosopher or therapist on any level from talking volunteer to a top neuro-psychologist. Emotions usually just come as part and parcel of who you are yet you are expected to manage your emotions in a civilised manner.

At the same time, there has always been a select group of people who have focused on emotions, bringing the world of the insane and locked up like prisoners in their attics, through a phase of electrocution, padded cells, failed medications, and many other horrendously attempted cures, to a world where understanding is finally falling into place with true Emotional Awareness.

Today the world mostly accepts that emotions can be cured holistically with gentle support and encouragement, positive thinking, affirmations, meditation, mindfulness and more. This all goes hand in hand.

Daniel Goleman describes five levels of emotional intelligence that are a natural progression of learning.

  • Self-Awareness

  • Managing Emotions

  • Empathy

  • Social Skills

  • Motivation

Anyone who has achieved all five levels of this to mastery can be classed as emotionally intelligent. For some people this seems natural as they learn if from their parents, school teachers and peers along the way, but for those with different influences such as biases, anxious or angry parents, culture, bullying at school and much more, these can be more difficult to learn naturally and are over ridden by negative experiences, destroying their chances at the first two stages and in many cases, leading to depression and anxiety by teenage years.

Today more than ever, we have excellent educational systems to teach children a wide variety of topics, yet more teenage mental health issues than ever. Why? Because the system does not teach them Emotional Awareness as a curriculum topic.

This is where my own focus is on helping that level of Emotional Awareness for teenagers and young adults, to help them get back on track with their natural progression towards emotional intelligence by learning about them self first.

Until you understand yourself - how can you understand someone else? How can you work as part of a team when you cannot empathise with other people?

Even people who learn their job well and know everything about it inside out, get promotions, but without that entire strategy of emotional intelligence behind them, offering motivation without empathy, or without managing their own emotions, leaves their leadership at risk of looking like the classic 70's Boss, Bad Manager, or disgruntled employee, despite all their best intentions.

By focusing on the first two stages emotional intelligence as a learnable strategy in my book Brain Unchained, it builds a stronger foundation for empathy to naturally follow. Once you can understand your own emotions, you will naturally begin to understand the people around you all the more.

There is still a long way to developing full emotional intelligence, but beginning with emotional awareness is my area of expertise.


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