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Emotional Literacy

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What is Emotional Literacy?


is the first step towards building your emotional intelligence. It is the ability to recognize, understand and appropriately express our emotions. It is an essential skill that we must work to develop.

As we evolve and our cultures change, new forms of literacy are required to give us the proper tools to deal with a broad and ever-changing spectrum of issues.

Today the need for Emotional Literacy is ever increasing, and is one of the best investments that we can make for our children and ourselves.

Emotions are an integral part of human nature. Through them we respond to life in many different ways, such as with anger, happiness, fear, love and loneliness. Emotions influence our thoughts and actions; they inspire our needs; they affect our bodies and impact on our relationships. They are not enemies to be rebuffed, repressed or rejected but rather allies to be honored, understood and directed. Ignored, they become willful tyrants; respected, they are our cherished helpers.

Becoming emotionally literate is learning the alphabet, grammar and vocabulary of our emotional life. In a world where academic literacy is increasingly the norm and other literacies, such as technological and computer, are expected, emotional literacy must become commonplace in order for human beings to grow, evolve and face the challenges of the future.

A major contributing factor to many of the problems in modern society is unawareness of the key role played by emotions. Emotional Literacy is a positive preventive tool, which properly understood, can assist society in solving many of its ills. Once acquired, it gives us an alternative to violence, illness, drug abuse, dysfunctional relationships, and global societal conflicts.

The capacity to deal with emotions positively is an essential element of good health. The direct connection between good health and the emotional state of a person is well documented.

Dysfunctional relationships on all levels are destroying individuals, families and whole communities. Emotional Literacy will support families and permit them to grow as individuals while sustaining a close bonded relationship.

The baby whose distress is responded to lovingly and promptly will learn confidence. A child who understands the important role of emotions will have a better foundation for a joyful, fulfilled and integrated life. Adults living in healthy relationships will serve as positive role models for their children. Older people who have learned to practice emotional literacy can complete their days with peace of mind.

Emotional Literacy is universally relevant. It can benefit every individual, every organization, and every profession. It has the capacity to transform each person and their relationships.

Emotional Literacy is a key to taking advantage of all possibilities. It is basic to joy and enthusiasm for life and fundamental to your ability to love others.

Emotional Literacy is a profound and beautiful language available to everyone that can be implemented rapidly, safely, and with lasting effect. Learning how to become emotionally literate is one of the best investments that human beings can make for themselves, their children, and the future.


In addition to the many articles at, you can read more about emotional literacy at Claude Steiner's site;
Dr. Steiner was an early pioneer in the field and is the author of "Achieving Emotional Literacy".


Continue to Part 2: Emotional Literacy 2

Back to: Psychology Articles, reprinted from the Foundation for Education with Emotional Literacy (FEEL), with permission.

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Last updated: 07/11/09

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