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Emotional intelligence has become a topic of interest in academic and social sciences for the past few decades, making its way into business, academic, social and cultural settings too. The measures in place for gaining a sense of defined parameters of what represents emotional intelligence are many and the generalised definition relates to one’s capacity to understand, manage and regulate one’s own emotional states. The degree to which this enables someone to communicate, empathise, manage stress and overcome conflict and challenges by themselves and with others vary as a result.

Whilst the focus is perhaps measured outwardly to obtain a degree of measure for one’s emotional intelligence, the heart of the emotional state begins with one’s internal experiences. This is often the product of what is reflected and ‘acted out’, visible outwardly. Cognitive elements such as perception, control, discernment, interpretation and evaluation are involved too, which are inherently connected to an individual’s feeling state; the emotional body.

Inner child healing helps build emotional intelligence

Within the context of psychosocial and spiritual healing, emotional intelligence can be a vehicle through which one obtains greater understanding and awareness of ever-changing emotional states. Emotions are transient, they are simply passing through as they arise, needing to express and move through. Emotional intelligence is part of childhood development, which is why healing aspects of childhood are correlated very clearly with inner child healing.

Inner child healing is a tangible framework that has the capacity to develop greater awareness of one’s own emotions and also heal and work through trauma, fear and underdeveloped parts of the self that were stunted, shut down or denied during childhood. Becoming more conscious, aware and learning tools to implement and support you in life situations, circumstances and relationships collectively improve outcomes of challenges, as well as form a greater relationship with yourself and others.

What is emotional intelligence?

Adults’ emotional states can often resemble that of a child, indeed one can experience a feeling of being a child again during heightened or strong emotional experiences. We can regress back into the emotional state of a childhood experience that doesn’t necessarily serve or fit the current adult situation, conversation or circumstance. This often plays out in our relationships; personal, intimate, work, friendship and social networks.

To regress emotionally means to relive or experience similar feelings we felt as a child, for example, anger, hurt, sadness, frustration and fear. When we experience emotions there are visceral feelings in the body and the mind can get locked into the full extent of the emotion that is arising and passing through. As children, the intensity of emotions, especially if not fully expressed, can be heightened, which as adults can resurface as unresolved wounds and loss of emotional control.

On the outside this can look like a volatile emotional outburst of any kind; anger, fear, sadness, rage. In moments where there may be loss of control, the full force of the emotion can be directed (most often) at others. Through becoming more aware of your emotional states and paying attention to what is happening when emotions arise and how they are dealt with are key steps in becoming emotionally aware.

In the context of childhood development, emotional intelligence is primed from a young age; the influence of parents’ behaviour (modelling) and the degree to which a child receives emotional support and safety are important aspects that influence a child’s capacity to develop healthy self esteem for example. Additionally, the degree to which one can communicate, empathise and maintain healthy relationships rooted in trust and safety and navigate emotionally challenging situations are included too.

Key steps in becoming more emotionally aware

Empathy is vital in developing emotional awareness. The degree to which you are able to put yourself in the shoes of another to understand, feel and appreciate the feelings of others is something of a natural ability to children. Children have an innate ability to empathise and the degree to which they develop empathy depends largely on how it was modelled for them by parents, as well as being encouraged through play learning to develop skills of compassion, care and consideration of others feelings.

As adults, emotional awareness is something you can develop yourself too. Becoming more emotionally aware results in healthy relationships, which reduces stress, anxiety and tension as well as emotionally abusive or destructive patterns from continuing. Much of our emotional awareness is internalised as children and we can get stuck at certain stages resulting in lower levels of emotional maturity and reactivity rather than awareness and openness to see and experience emotions for what they are.

Becoming more emotionally aware:
  • Practice mindfulness which cultivates self awareness and can be supportive for emotional awareness too
  • Pausing and taking a breath before reacting emotionally
  • Be open to looking at your emotions as they arise and start to notice the effects of them on you and the impact they have on others
  • Listening to yourself and others in emotionally challenging situations and being open to discussion and repair afterwards (if feelings were hurt, boundaries crossed)
  • Observing your own and others emotional cues like facial expression, body language, words and actions that seem to wrapped in emotions
  • Writing down your emotions on a daily basis to begin to form a picture of your emotional world and how it changes throughout the days and month

Tips to get you started

Inner child healing is directly related to emotional intelligence and perhaps more softly defined as the ability to be aware of one’s own emotional state and manage the circumstances around emotionally charged situations too. As children we develop automatic responses to react emotionally to things we like, don’t like and everything in between. Inner child therapy provides tools with which you can develop more emotional intelligence and further your relationship with yourself and others with more compassion, care and consideration.

Being able to regulate your emotions and ensuring you are grounded and present before carrying on your day, situation or conversation from a moment of reactivity is one technique you learn in inner child work. An important step is cultivating emotional maturity to enhance confidence, self esteem as well as empathise more with yourself and those around you.

Takeaway practice:

  • When you react emotionally or find yourself more emotionally reactive, ask yourself: how old do I feel?
  • This can be a clue as to the emotional age being expressed
  • Make space for that part of yourself that is feeling the emotion and acknowledge what you are feeling in the moment (or afterward)
  • Begin to develop a responsive relationship to your emotions rather than judging, denying or dismissing them
  • Give yourself some space to experience the emotion with compassion and care, understanding that emotions are a normal, healthy part of our human experience

For more information on how to parent your inner child, develop a healthy relationship with your emotions or to find out more about emotional healing there are more articles and resources to support you.

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