STANDING on the Friends House stage in London where Mahatma Gandhi once delivered his powerful words was an immense honour, one that I will forever cherish. As I took my place among the guest speakers at the Emotional Sobriety Conference, I couldn't help but feel a sense of profound gratitude for the opportunity to share my thoughts on a topic so close to my heart.

Reflecting on my journey, I recalled the days of my youth when the phrase 'For God's sake, grow up' echoed around me like a relentless mantra. At the time, I interpreted it as a call to embrace the responsibilities and expectations of adulthood. However, with the wisdom of hindsight, I now realise that it was a plea for something far deeper and more meaningful.

I was joined by my esteemed colleague, the neuroscientist Judy Grisel, (author of 'Never Enough') as we delved into the evolutionary history of our emotional growth. Together, we unravelled the intricate web of biological and psychological factors that shape our emotional landscapes, highlighting the crucial role that emotional maturation plays in our journey as individuals and as a species.

From the dawn of humanity, our emotions have served as both a blessing and a curse, driving our actions and shaping our destinies in ways both profound and lasting. They have been our guides, our companions and our greatest challenges, propelling us forward in times of triumph and weighing us down in moments of despair. Yet, despite their undeniable influence, the true nature of our emotions has remained shrouded in mystery, their origins and mechanisms hidden beneath layers of complexity and ambiguity.

As we navigated the labyrinth of scientific research and theoretical discourse, one truth became abundantly clear: emotional intelligence is not merely a desirable trait – it is an essential aspect of our humanity. Just as our bodies undergo physical maturation, so too must our minds undergo emotional maturation, evolving from raw, primal instincts to nuanced, sophisticated understandings of ourselves and others.

This journey of emotional growth is not without its challenges. It requires courage, humility and a willingness to confront the darkest corners of our psyches. It demands introspection, self-awareness and a commitment to personal growth. Yet, in the crucible of our struggles, we find the seeds of our greatest triumphs, for it is through adversity that we discover the true depths of our strength and resilience.

As we stood before the audience, sharing our insights and experiences, I felt a profound sense of connection, not only with my fellow speakers, but with every individual in the room. We were bound together by a common purpose, a shared commitment to unravelling the mysteries of the human heart and mind. And as we exchanged ideas and perspectives, I was reminded once again of the transformative power of community, the ability of like-minded souls to inspire, uplift and empower one another on our journey toward emotional sobriety.

In the days that followed, as I reflected on the events of the conference, I found myself filled with renewed hope and determination. For in our quest for emotional maturation, we are not alone. We are part of a global movement, a collective endeavour to awaken the dormant potential within each and every one of us. And as we continue on this journey together, I am confident that we will unlock new realms of understanding, compassion and empathy, forging a brighter, more harmonious future for generations to come.

Thanks to my good friend Patrick and the friendly circle group, this conference was the seed of more to come.

Finally there’s a saying in AA: "You can’t see until you see and you can’t hear until you hear." Here’s a beautiful poem by the poet EE Cummings that captures the day for me.

i thank you God for most this amazing 

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any – lifted from the no
of all nothing – human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)