How well do you know your own heart

Written by Nina Tovey | 4 August, 2014

Emotional intelligence expert Cynthia Norton shares her insights into emotional fitness and why it is a skill worth cultivating

When Cynthia Morton sat in a psychiatric hospital shaking after her marriage collapsed and decades of drug addiction and abuse, she chose to get to the bottom of her pain and survive.

Going on to write two acclaimed books and develop a ground breaking program, Cynthia has helped thousands of people break destructive patterns and won a number of accolades including an Australian of the Year Award.

Wellspringcaught up with this sought after fighter to learn more about emotional fitness and why it is a skill worth cultivating.

When Cynthia talks about adversity, it is a place she knows better than most. Her childhood was marked by periods of homelessness, eating disorders, abuse and violence. This was followed by almost two decades of self destructive behaviour in her adult life before she committed to turn things around.

With no formal education and dyslexia, Cynthia defied all odds with the development of her Emotional Fitness program which not only aided her own mending process but also formed the basis of her first book A Helping Hand with Life.

Sharing the first five years of her personal recovery, Cynthia’s book quickly made its way on to Australian top 10 bestseller lists and was praised as groundbreaking by industry leaders including former President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Beres Wenck.

Unrivalled in its insight into self destructive patterns, the success of her book saw Cynthia start to field requests from interested clients and leading corporations who wished to apply her findings to the issues of emotional stress and leadership skills in the workplace.

She has since helped more than 30,000 Australians facing emotional challenging issues, from the captains of industry to corrective services workers and elite athletes. Her ’emotional workout’ programs aim to help clients overcome difficult issues, care for themselves effectively and ultimately reach self acceptance.

Cynthia said emotional fitness could be applied to most situations and was a vital skill to master to ensure we were living full lives.

“To be emotionally fit means being unafraid to be yourself – warts and all. It is potentially the hardest work we will ever do in our lifetime but it is worth it to build a loving and caring relationship with ourselves,” Cynthia said.

“Living happily ever after is our birthright, not a naive childish pursuit. Living in harmony within our own skin regardless of whether we’re single or in a relationship is the biggest life time assignment we all get given.”

“Many of my clients are high achievers in the head and body, but they are emotionally bankrupt which can cause them great pain and stop them driving forwards in life.”

Cynthia said she looks at three key areas to assess someone’s emotional fitness levels – tribal support, eldership and self nurturing skills.

“I am interested in people’s tribal support - the people in their life they can be completely comfortable with who truly know them for who they are. We then talk about eldership – who do people trust and turn to for emotional support and insights on life to keep them on the right track. I also delve into people’s coping mechanisms when difficult situations arise. The information I collect from these three areas help me perform an emotional spotcheck,” Cynthia said.

Cynthia then develops what she calls a ’GPS of the heart’ which helps her clients understand where they tend to short circuit and how they can best navigate through.

“In the same way a personal trainer works, I provide tailored exercises to strengthen your emotional fitness and help you navigate more effectively through the bumps in life.” Cynthia said many emotional issues stemmed from people not having an elder who taught them how to use their heart effectively.

“If you’re supported as an adolescent by an elder who has a good emotional marriage with themselves your resilience in this area will undoubtedly be more robust. People who haven’t been supported in this way through divorce or death in the family tend to have a weaker emotional toolkit which can result in various crises later in their life,” said Cynthia.

In Cynthia’s case, she chooses to seek professional eldership services in the form of a therapist in her 70s who she describes as her ’lantern barer’.

“Her help has been invaluable in helping me unpack and sit with my emotion,” Cynthia said.

Cynthia has also meditated every morning for the past 18 years and practices daily journalling, a ritual she says derives from a place of pure love. Cynthia believes emotional tension can result in physical illness and that her program can fit in effectively with other forms of treatment.

“In my view the mind, body and spirit are interlinked and I see the convergence of natural and conventional medicine as a great step forwards. It is wonderful that people have the ability today to choose from the smorgasboard of therapies and programs available and not be so blinkered as we were in the past. It is just a matter of looking at the tools and finding the right ones,” she said.

“I see the union of East and West as the joining of the feminine – our heart, with the masculine – our ego. When that is in harmony we can have better relationships with ourselves.”

Nina Tovey

Nina Tovey is a public relations expert who has supported a wide range of clients throughout her career, including world leading brands, Government Departments and small-to-medium enterprises. Nina is the founder of public relations consultancy Yoke Communications.

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