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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

From Emotional Intelligence to Emotional Fluency

In the past, when anger consumed me, it tended to linger for days, as I continually replayed the source of my frustration in my mind. During this process, I would inadvertently become self-righteous. Similarly, when I experienced emotional wounds, I would retreat from the world. Unfortunately, this withdrawal resulted in confusion and pain for those close to me, who were left in the cold embrace of my silence.

This pattern of self-righteousness and withdrawal was a recurring theme in my life, largely due to my underdeveloped emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence defined:

The ability to recognize, understand, manage, and effectively utilize emotions, both in oneself and in others. It involves perceiving and comprehending one’s own feelings, as well as those of others to navigate social interactions.

This definition is both appealing and problematic to me. It appears to emphasize a somewhat intellectual approach to emotional experiences, suggesting the need to grasp precisely how others feel. However, I acknowledge that I can't truly fathom another person's emotions; instead, I can offer empathy towards their feelings. Intellectualizing emotions can be relatively straightforward as they often remain confined to our thoughts.

Where my coaching methodology thrives is in linking emotions to the physical realm, allowing individuals to tangibly feel joy or emotional pain within their bodies. This approach is what we refer to as "Body-Based Coaching."

Intellectualizing the Emotional Experience

The problem with intellectualizing an experience is the risk of transforming emotions into mere intellectual exercises, where we name and label them without truly immersing ourselves in the experience. This method can create a sense of control and mastery, giving us a feeling of being on top of our emotions, neatly categorized and managed. Many individuals find themselves residing in this realm of therapy jargon, often describing their afflictions to others, illustrating the downside of excessive intellectualization.

The good news is that starting here is a common beginning point for many of us. And there is a path towards a more gratifying life filled with meaningful interpersonal connections and a profound sense of purpose and self-awareness.

Embodiment of Emotional Experience

The bridge to making emotions meaningful lies in our physical bodies. We're all familiar with the way fear tightens the chest or how anger can radiate throughout the body. Conversely, joy can manifest as an effervescent lightness felt throughout the entire body, constituting a body-based experience.

In this context, emotional intelligence revolves around the practice of slowing down, identifying emotions, and then allowing them to resonate in the body for 1-2 minutes. I refer to this crucial step as "Emotional Fluency," wherein I guide individuals on how to sit with all their emotions – the delightful and challenging alike.

By shifting our focus away from mere intellectualization, Emotional Fluency compels us to inhabit our bodies. It encourages us to ask, "Where do I feel this emotion?" The body offers an unadulterated truth, untainted by logic or ego, providing an effective means to cut through the mental clutter.

Embracing Emotional Fluency leads to enhanced clarity and self-awareness. As we embark on the journey of self-discovery, we gain insight into our desires, ultimately paving the way to the coveted state of clarity.

The Stretch

For those wishing to delve deeper into this concept, I propose a three-day exercise. At the end of each day, set aside 1-5 minutes to reflect on an event that transpired during the day. Visualize it, identify the associated emotion, and then shift it from your mind to your body.

Take a deliberate pause to feel that emotion in your body. Feel the thoughts within you, with intention for a focused 90 seconds or less. Afterward, scan your physical body for any tension or notable changes you may have experienced. This practice is a transformative step toward Emotional Fluency and self-discovery.

A ’stretch’ is taking a coaching experience to the outside world and immediately feeling self-confidence grow.


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