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3.3 Further techniques for emotional literacy

Here are a few more techniques to help you to develop your emotional literacy.

Keeping a ‘mood journal’

You might practise recognising your own emotions – and what leads to them – by keeping a ‘mood journal’. (You could include this as a separate section in your learning journal.)

This involves noting how you feel at different times of the day, with different people and in different situations, to see if you can identify any patterns. When are you at your most and least anxious, happiest, annoyed, and so on?

This kind of activity can help you recognise the way in which circumstances influence your emotions, and how your feelings can influence a situation. You can learn how your feelings can interfere with your thinking and how they can enhance it.

Practising emotion recognition

You might practise recognising other people’s emotions by making a conscious effort to interpret their body language and check it out with them, by asking with an enquiring tone that invites a response. Even if you are wrong in your interpretation, people are usually glad to be noticed, and it might prompt a discussion that would both add to your knowledge of them and to your interpretation skills.

Understand yourself

If you can spot your own feelings of apprehension, you can question why you are feeling that way and what you can do about it – before you maybe get to the terrified state in which you cannot think straight.

Know your options

Recognising that you have options is another element of emotional literacy. We can allow fear to paralyse us so that we don’t see what is possible. Note the feeling, and then work out exactly why you are afraid and do something about it. Remember, too, that to develop, we need to move out of our comfort zone!

Study other people

You might be able to find more productive ways of handling some of your instinctive responses by observing other people, noting the ways in which they respond differently to success and to failure, and asking them how they manage their emotions.

Learn to identify different emotions
Figure 6 Learn to identify different emotions

Maybe you do all these things already, but everyone probably could do a bit more! The next activity asks you select one of the above techniques to develop your own emotional literacy. It may be a good idea to choose whichever one you do not already do very much.

Activity 4 Practising emotional literacy

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes for this activity.

Commit yourself to undertaking at least one of the above suggested routes to emotional literacy over the next few days before you start Week 3.

Take five minutes on each of your chosen days to make a note of your work on your chosen route to emotional literacy in your learning journal.


Knowing yourself and really thinking about the reasons why you are experiencing a particular emotion can make a huge difference in managing the impact of your emotions on achieving your goals.