Bringing it Forth
"Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside are hoping you will say yes."
(from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert)
My journey with emotional intelligence started eight years ago when I quit drinking. I didn't know what I was beginning was called something, I just knew that the way I'd been living- numbing out all the emotions I had by getting blackout drunk a few times a week- wasn't working.
Labeled at an early age as "sensitive", "dramatic", and "over-emotional" I was definitely at the mercy of the big emotions that ran roughshod over my inner life. There was SO MUCH to feel, and I experienced it all in mostly bold, overwhelming sweeps. Happiness and excitement dropped me overboard, my hurt and sadness felt like I had an ocean of tears contained in a little girl body. Since my parents weren't equipped with the patience or skills to deal with all the things I felt, I learned to shut myself down so I didn't get in too much trouble.
Then puberty hit. The hard earned control I'd gained was lost. I spent a lot of time in my head, bewildered and confused by all the things I felt that seemed to have no good way of being expressed. I spent most of my time either pretending to be someone I wasn't to fit in, or feeling misunderstood and miserable because I thought no one else was like me.
I discovered alcohol at age 14 and it brought me what I'd been looking for all my life: escape from how much emotion I felt. I learned that by drinking enough I could forget I even existed, and when I forgot I existed I also forgot how I felt. And by forgetting how I felt I found a strange land of amnesia and relief.
So I drank that way for 27 years. I was a highly functioning drinker, never really hitting an obvious rock bottom, more like a lifetime of watching myself fall slowly off of a very high cliff. When I quit, the first part was all about managing not drinking. Then, once I had that under control, in came emotions.
That happened for me at about 2 years in to being sober. I wasn't thinking about not drinking all the time, I was thinking about holy shit I am feeling a lot of things and I better figure out who I am and what I want to do with them. I knew if I didn't, the glow of sobriety would quickly turn to the dysfunction of emotionally mismanaging myself- wrecking my relationships, decision making, and well being. My emotions could make or break my life.
Emotions have been a mysterious driving force for me. Sobriety brought me the courage to face them, to learn about them, and to improve the way I relate to and manage them. I have spent the past 8 years reading, learning, and studying human behavior and emotions and the role they play in our lives. To me, emotions were always the secret behind everything I did, the things that directed my days. They created my habits and patterns. I wanted to understand them, to stop being afraid of them, to bring them out into the light and let them be seen- but in a way that I and other people could relate to, and even care for.
Imagine my delight as I figured out that scientists studied emotions and that there were whole theories about them! That the things and ideas I'd imagined had a name- emotional intelligence- and there was established science and research around what I believed somehow had to be recognized as a critical part of our daily lives. That feelings and emotions weren't just touchy feely and woo woo, but that they had a concrete basis in creating satisfaction, success, and connection for all of us- not just "hippies" around the campfire singing kumbaya- but CEO's, teachers, students, parents, children, artists, dentists, friends and partners- EVERYONE.
The goal of this blog is to take you on the journey of learning about emotional intelligence. In my regular writings I will give information and insights into what I'm learning, offer practical examples of how to improve your emotional intelligence, and share my own experiences with you.
I know first hand the difference having the courage to get close to yourself emotionally makes- all the ways it saved my life- and writing to share these ideas so y'all can learn to love and understand yourselves too seems like a logical next step. To bring it forth: through emotional intelligence we can all find our way to ourselves and each other in ways that make the whole world a better place.
So, WELCOME! Email me with questions and your own experiences and ideas, make comments. I'm delighted to begin what I hope will be an ongoing conversation filled with curiosity and insight!