Illiterate Paradox

The 2nd idea that raced across the glittering night of my mind was about a kindergarten/ Nursery through to industry education programme. That was the same night that Reaching and Teritary Desistance also appeared.

My son the 8th Grader, asked “what is a paradox?” I carefully answered whilst listening to Brené Brown and President Barak Obama discussing the term. “A paradox is, the ability of holding two seemingly opposite ideas as equal and finding that they are interlinked.” I said. Paradoxes are also a challenge to fully conceptualise. They seem like odd truths or true lies.

Live fully with the knowledge that one day life will end.
The final rule you need to remember is to ignore all the rules
“What a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.” – George Bernard Shaw

I wondered what if education was to support graduans and those still attending Uni, College, School, Nursery/Kindergarten to have a larger appreciation and use of emotional literacy and emotional intelligence? Could there be beneficial outcomes for a person who is able to be aware of their emotional landscape alongside others and make use of what they find?

Boats at harbour

What is emotional literacy
My understanding of emotional literacy is the ability to be able to know what one is feeling and be clear of how to make use of the feelings. Claude Steiner shares ideas here in reference to emotional literacy being different to emotional intelligence. I liked the idea of being able to feel and read the emotion first. Similar to when a person begins to learn to read letters/characters to be able to engage with the language of the culture.

What is emotional intelligence
My understanding of emotional literacy is the ability to be aware of how you are feeling. In a clear way express how one is feeling with some level of awareness and control. Reflexively interpret the emotions of others you are in contact/communion with. Also come to an awareness of the feelings/emotions of others by reading social cues accurately. The podcast link with Andy McNab explores the idea a little further (see below).

Learning continues
The understanding I have of emotional literacy and intelligence is largely influenced from my training as a counsellor and large life events that I have shared previously in earlier blogs. I recognise I have much more to learn, in relation to A.C.E.’s especially in relation to boundaries, stating what my needs are and making demands for what I want/don’t want. As a compassionate guide and someone who has not just survived a small t trauma, I am thriving on a number of levels and am leaning in to the discomfort finally. There is a sense of the small internal child stretching up towards a brighter warmer space.

Parellel Support

Having had a conversation with Anne Willoughby, who has an uncanny ability to skewer the last forgotten sizzling breaded halloumi at the back of the barbecue. Anne asked the ever important question. When are we were going to look down into that barely opened secret box, lightly labelled shame? She asked. Perhaps in not so many words. I believe she said “Why haven’t we had that conversation about…?” Before, when we ventured near this topic I had said I wouldn’t want to sully what our friendship had evolved into. A closer answer should have been that I was fearful of what might be uncovered when we go there. I think a small t trauma can colour and flavour everything in small ways, or like a red sock in a whites wash – change the colour of eveything. Emotional literacy I feel can help know up from down whilst moving through life.

Inhaling I centred on my courage (knowing I wanted to run as far from this conversation as I ever have) and leaned in. I have watched and listened to a few others who have been open about adverse childhood experiences they have experienced (A.C.E.), survived, and been able to thrive beyond. Lisa Nichols, Dax Shepard, Tim Ferris, Sonya Renee Taylor and Ray Christian  have all recognised that it is not their shame or pain to carry. That the shame, guilt, secrecy and debilitating effects of the story belong to the hurt person(s) who hurt them. The earlier version of who they were then was merely collateral damage. A recogniseable by-passer invited into a soiled secret. A recipient of the unprocessed and misplaced looking for a secure vessel into and onto which they could transfer uncomfortable feeling and disordered information. I realise I have journeyed into a psychodynamic space on this topic. A sort of theoretical psychobabble. However by telling the story, to begin pulling up the murky contents and separate the self from the filth, a new healthy identity can be asserted.

The idea would be to encourage us all to continue to grow into being able to communicate the emotion one feels as they broil about inside of us. What would it be like to confidently in all moments with trusted others share that specific energy in motion? The aim would be to develop and foster understanding between and amongst and not be shouted down and misunderstood. Another aim could be to appreciate the many different ways of being with emotion. The move and growth in understanding neurodiversity, neuroplasticity, non gender binary for me has invited an awareness of difference and human expression in all of its wonderful and varied forms. Slowing down the need for conclusions. We are to remain curious.  


Near to 9th
The paradox at hand has much to do with the idea of youth being wasted on the young, being linked to an awareness of life for the living. And the young being aware that at some point it all changes regardless of protest or need! For my 8th grader the paradox for him, is about wanting to be out with friends, grow up, explore and be safe in relation to CoViD19, have all the power and privilege of an adult and none of the additional responsibilities that accompany an adult’s life role. Finding the middle space at this time, the in between knowing and not knowing, is hard.

I am excitedly wondering what our world would look like with sensitive and self aware emotionally literate stewardship? Reading Brené Brown’s dare to lead she wonders and shares the idea that emotional literacy is vital for all human life to begin walking courageously. Perhaps within a timeline that involves my children the illiterate paradox could be answered.

Perhaps the use of both explosive and hazardous expression would be understood in relation to personal and community impact. Individuation remains connected to and linked to many many more. A recognition that emotion also carries information that may want/need to be understood.

I feel that the commonality and experience of the individual linked to the experience of the community could be used to further communication, understanding and social and individual action. emotional intelligence and emotional literacy are linked with empathy and connection to others and to ourselves.


How to Fail with Elisabeth Day and Andy McNab
Brené Brown with Tim Ferris and Dax Shepard
Group Youtube from Irv Yallom’s Schopenhauer Cure

Cover Photo by Ben Scott on Unsplash  
1st Inlay Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash In Lifting Others
2nd Inlay Photo by heylagostechie on Unsplash At the Computer
3rd Inlay Photo by Ismail Salad Hajji dirir on Unsplash boys whispering