If you’re familiar with any of Bridge the Gap’s course material or webinars, free resources or social media posts, you will undoubtedly have come across the term ‘emotional literacy’. You may have also heard the terms ‘emotional intelligence’ or ‘emotional education’.
In some fields these are interchangeable, while others define subtle differences. At Bridge the Gap, we talk about emotional education as the process of learning about emotional literacy. We educate families about feelings and emotions, leading to them becoming emotionally literate and better equipped to proactively take care of their own mental health.
Becoming emotionally literate is one of the BEST things you can do for yourself and your family to prevent mental ill health – rather than waiting for a mental health ‘problem’ to arise...and trying to ‘fix’ it.
So what are we talking about and why is it so important?
What is Emotional Education?
Emotional education is learning about what ‘emotions’ are, how they affect us, and what we can do to manage them.
Being able to name an emotion is the first step. When we understand that what we are feeling right now is ‘anger’, we can begin to consider why we are feeling that emotion and the effect it is having on us. We can then use the strategies we have learned to ‘move through’ that emotion in a positive way, dealing with the root cause if necessary and possible. This leads to a mentally and physically healthier outcome.
When we do NOT acknowledge or understand the emotions we are experiencing, it can be difficult to deal with them effectively, or in a positive way. Difficult feelings, particularly for children, can lead to destructive emotions (like shame) as well as negative thoughts about themselves.
We’ve probably all experienced explosive outbursts of anger - or perhaps the quiet gnawing away of fear in our bellies? These feelings are perfectly normal! Letting them control us and affect our lives is not.
Emotional education names and places these feelings, and gives us the tools to cope with them in a healthy way.