Emotional wounds take time, and effort to heal. Yet when these wounds heal, not only do we develop our emotional intelligence, we become closer to God as well. In the second of a series, we take a deeper dive into human emotions and how it affects our spiritual life. Amy Killingsworth discusses how the Bible, and Jesus, advocated for mental health, and why mental health affects our physical wellness as well. Learn more about emotional intelligence and wellbeing by tuning in to this special episode.
Listen to the podcast here:
Emotional Intelligence 101 Part 2: Healing Your Emotional Wounds
This is Season 2, Episode 20. In this episode, we are talking about emotional intelligence. This is Emotional Intelligence 101 Part Two. I did part one in Episode 19, which is the episode prior to this. If you want to go back and check that out, I recommend that you do that and not jump in on part two because this is going to build on a foundation that I already laid. This would be a great time to pause this one, go back to the one prior to this, and read part one before we get into part two.
Where we left off with Emotional Intelligence 101 Part One is that we talked about how as children, most of us were raised by people who were raised by people who didn’t understand emotional intelligence and had difficulty processing their own emotions so that when we emote, it would cause them to feel uncomfortable in their own emotions. They would want us to calm ourselves down so that they could be comfortable. That’s where we get the conditioning to settle down, don’t cry, suck it up, rub some dirt in it, and get over it. That conditioning is harmful.
I don’t want to put any blame or fault on our caregivers because they were doing the best that they could. It’s time now and we’ve come to a point in culture, society, the world and Earth where we need to deal with this issue. That’s why it’s so critical and important why I often refer to emotional healing as the turning point where all healing coalesces and occurs. To recap, the Rise to Reign framework is seven principles of wisdom applied to seven categories. The soul is one of the seven categories. The soul is split down into the mind, the will, and the emotions.
Within that, 1/3 or one category is where our entire quality of life and our experience lies. I want to be careful here to point out too that spirit has its own category. Emotional healing is connected to spiritual healing. The state of your emotions is very connected to the way that you relate to God. The reason for that is because we are emotional beings. That’s what makes us human. That’s how we experience and interact with the world, our relationships, other people, and our Creator.
Scripture And Emotional Intelligence
If you look through the New and the Old Testaments too, there are many references. I need to do an entire episode on the Hebrew concept of the heart and how it is dealt with inside of scripture. All through the Old Testament, it talks about the heart over and over again and how the heart is central. It says in Proverbs, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Guard your heart with all diligence because out of it flows the issues of life.”
The idea of emotional wellness and emotional health is really important. It’s supercritical. It’s the fulcrum on which all healing turns because if you’re dealing with a symptom in your body, it has an emotional component if not an outright emotional cause. After my own experience professionally, I know that this feels maybe a stretch for a lot of people. From my own perspective, I can’t prove it but I’m comfortable saying that every single physical and relational issue that shows up has its roots right here in the emotional body. When you have a physical symptom showing up in your body, it’s a physical representation of emotional reality. This is important and has to be addressed.Emotional healing is connected to spiritual healing, and the state of your emotions is connected to the way that you relate to God. Click To Tweet
When we talk about emotional health and emotional healing, that’s a broad and robust concept. What we’re doing here is laying a foundation of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the foundation from which we begin to learn and rebuild our patterns of relating. I mentioned the Old Testament concept of the heart. In the New Testament, Jesus is constantly referring to this as well. He talks about the internal space that we need to pay attention to and do the inner work to clean the inside. His major criticism of the Pharisees and the religious people is that they wash the outside of the cup but the inside is filthy.
The inside is your internal reality. It’s your emotional body, emotional well-being, emotional health, and emotional intelligence. We see that so much in religious circles now. The focus is on the behavior, what you do, how your life looks, and how you show up in the world. All of that is important. Don’t get me wrong. Morals and ethics are important. The choices that you make are hugely impactful but it has to be done from a place of emotional health.
Any attempt at behavior modification without getting to the root of why that behavior is maybe inappropriate or out of line is doomed to fail 100%. We all know that. How many times have you tried to start a diet or quit an addictive behavior, or decided you weren’t going to yell at your children or something along those lines or tried to work out consistently? You can’t do it. You can’t sustain the change. It’s because the root cause is always an emotional pattern.
Healing Your Emotional Wounds
Focusing on behavior and how you show up in the world, your job, relationships, calling and vocation without doing the inner work is what Jesus was talking about when he said that you clean the outside of the cup, but the inside is filthy. We don’t want to live like that. We want to be integrated and whole. In order to do that, we have to clean the inside of the cup, which amounts to doing the internal work that we’re going to start unpacking from this point forward.
Paul said that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the holy spirit. Those are all three internal realities. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is within you.” We have to get this reality of the kingdom within us into a state of righteousness, peace and joy before we are integrated in the way that we show up in the world as whole, healed people. That’s what Rise to Reign exists for. It’s because God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life.
We covered the first half in part one. Now, we’re going to get into the second half and bring home this concept of emotional intelligence. I’m going to continue now with the idea of having a breakdown of trust within ourselves. Going along where we left off about our caregivers and how we were conditioned into certain patterns by their discomfort with our emotions, we were conditioned into certain patterns of unhealth by learning to step and squash our feelings and put on a happy face no matter what.
It creates inconsistencies but we’re also in that schema where we’re taught that there are good and bad emotions, which unconsciously teaches us what to feel and what not to feel. In turn, this teaches us not to trust our feelings. This concept is the key. It’s important because when we are averse to feeling our negative feelings, they don’t go away. They stay trapped in our nervous system.
Letting Go Of Negative Emotions
I’m going to cover the toxic tank again. I’ve done it previously in this season. It’s important because that tank that is ruminating and housing all of the negative experiences and feelings that you haven’t processed out is what is poisoning the well of your life. We want to learn how to not only do our daily expression and move through difficult emotions as well as good emotions, but we also need to learn how to clean out that tank and lighten our load so that we can live in that state of righteousness, peace and joy in the holy spirit.
I love the Pixar movie Inside Out, even just the name. It’s like what we’re talking about, inside out. As within, so without. If you have an external problem, it starts inside. That’s what needs to be looked at and focused on. In that movie, they were trying to get rid of Sadness. They were trying to make Sadness go away, shut up and be quiet. In that effort, Joy got lost as well. For Joy to be restored to her rightful place, Sadness had to come along, be a mentor, and bring her back to where she belonged. You can’t selectively numb and stuff emotion.
If you’re trying to stuff sadness and mitigate grief, you’re also stuffing and mitigating your joy. You can’t show up as the person that you were created to be. You can’t show up as a whole, full, abundant life living person unless you have that joy. Sadness is something to move through to get to on the other side, which is joy. We need to not refuse to feel our difficult emotions because on the other side of them is the actual, true and honest peace and joy.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression, there are things that need to be felt. Unfortunately, what happens in our culture is you go to the doctor and get medication. The medication numbs you even further and causes a cascade of breakdown within your system that’s supposed to be integrated and it begins to disintegrate. We see this over and over and show up in all kinds of negative ways.
Moving Past Fear
We become disconnected from our inner world and start to become influenced by external sources. Usually, this has to do with the expectations, desires and approval of other people. We learn to get our cues from responses and from other people, and what will win us belonging or get us rejected. At the core of every human experience is one major fear. It’s that we aren’t enough. If we’re not enough, we won’t be loved. If we’re not loved and thrown out of the crowd or tribe, we won’t survive. It’s life and death.
This is primal. It’s rooted in a faulty belief that if we experience negative emotions, we’re going to be rejected because what did a lot of our parents do when we experience negative emotions is they pushed us away. They put us at arm’s distance and it wasn’t because they didn’t love us. It’s because they didn’t have the tools to deal with their own emotions. They certainly can’t.Morals and ethics are important. The choices that you make are hugely impactful, but they have to be done from a place of emotional health. Click To Tweet
When you can’t deal with your own emotions, when you’re not integrated and whole yourself, you can’t deal with the emotions of other people. That destroys intimacy because when you can’t relate on an authentic level with yourself and feel and integrate your emotions, you certainly can’t do it with another person.
The other thing that this does is break down our ability to trust what we feel. We get to a place where we’re unable to trust or even know who we are. This shows up in difficulty in making decisions, executive function, midlife crises, and emotional breakdowns because we don’t know who we are and what we want. We can’t trust what we are experiencing and feeling because we are so disconnected from our hearts. It is what it boils down to because the heart is where you feel.
This concept of external validation is important to look at because if we don’t know or trust who we are, we look outside ourselves for meaning and worth. Humans are incredibly adaptable. This is something that’s amazing and awesome about humans, but it can be very challenging as well because if we aren’t adapting in the right direction and if we’re adapting an unhealthy style of relating, it can be harmful as that gets anchored in as we get older.
We quickly form ourselves into who we think we need to be to receive affirmation, acceptance, belonging and love. This is how the false self, prisoner, slave, princess and prince is formed. We go back and talk about those archetypes. We looked at the characteristics of each one of them and decide, “I want to be the queen. I want to embody my higher self, my higher nature, the king or the queen.” We wonder like, “How do we get from one to the other? How did we get here?” It’s the question, “How does the false self happen? How do we close the distance between where we are and where we want to be?”
Reveal Your True Nature
Your true nature is the king or the queen. The princess, prince, slave, and prisoners are manifestations of a false self or an unhealthy style of relating based on the fact that you weren’t allowed, encouraged or taught how to fully express yourself, feel your feelings, and begin to integrate and trust what is going on inside of yourself.
This is why it says in Proverbs, “Guard your heart because out of it flows the issues of life.” We take that to mean, “Don’t let harmful stimulus get into your heart. Guard it from the harmful stimulus.” What we’re talking about is guarding our hearts because out of it flows the issues of life. What it means is seeing through your heart, taking care of your heart, feeling what’s in your heart, connecting with that and living heart-centered or wholeheartedly.
That’s even in our tagline, “God wants you healed so you can wholeheartedly live your purpose and love your life.” The way that you do that is to learn how to experience, process, feel your emotions and gain trust in yourself. Life helps us do this. By life I mean God. I covered in the will segment how God sets up our life with the prophetic guardrails around it where everything is driving you to health. Life expressed through God is always trying to heal you.
What happens is that at certain points in our lives, or often multiple times, we experience a reckoning. The reckoning is when life brings us to a crisis point that helps us see how disconnected we are from our true selves. These usually happen in breadcrumbs. You’ll get a little crisis. If you don’t pay attention, you get a bigger crisis. I want to tell you that if you’re having reckonings, stop and pay attention because they don’t go away or get better.
The more you numb, the more you dig into your pattern of what you do to make yourself comfortable and accepted, to find belonging, and to not rock the boat. The more you do that, the deeper you are digging a hole. There’s only one way out of that hole and it’s the same way that you went in. When life brings you to a reckoning and crisis point that helps us see how disconnected we are from our true self, it’s time to pay attention and do something different because if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.
There’s a caricature of the midlife crisis when a man leaves his marriage, buys a sports car, and starts dating a younger woman. That’s exactly what happens when you don’t deal with the reckonings as they come. You will self-destruct because the heart will be heard. If you don’t intentionally hear it, sit with its longings, and learn how to feel and process your emotions, it will come out in other ways. You will have affairs and develop addictions.
Nobody is strong enough to live their whole life burying their heart and stuffing their feelings. The only way out of this cycle is to learn to feel your emotions, process through them and listen to your heart. To come back to ourselves, we have to peel back the layers of messages that we’ve accepted and lies we’ve believed about ourselves and discover a better way of interacting with the world. This is the process of emotional healing.
Emotional Healing Through Emotional Intelligence
This episode isn’t necessarily about emotional healing. It’s about emotional intelligence, but emotional intelligence is a prerequisite to emotional healing. Remember, emotional intelligence is simply the ability to skillfully explore, identify and manage our emotions. That’s what emotional intelligence is. Emotional healing is using that ability to peel back the layers, do self-inquiry and come to a place of self-awareness.Emotions are meant to communicate information. When you don't feel your emotions, you're not getting that information. Click To Tweet
The goal is not learning what to feel or what not to feel. The goal is to learn how to feel. It’s a skill. It’s intelligence. This starts with recognizing and identifying emotions. As silly, rudimentary or elementary as that sounds, it’s a lost art. I deal with many adults not only in my business, which is my profession but in my personal life. They are like, “I don’t know what this is.” You watch them and they’re totally and completely repressed in their emotions.
They don’t have any idea how to navigate their inner world. That’s why we see a lot of alcoholism, pornography addiction, eating disorders, and all manners of challenges that people face, affairs, midlife crises, and whatnot because people don’t know how to navigate their internal world. They’re affected constantly by external stimulus.
What’s the difference between an emotion and a feeling? We usually refer to them interchangeably. I have been referring to them interchangeably during this entire series but they are distinct. I want to draw the difference between them. This is a quote by Dr. Karen McLaren, “An emotion is a physiological experience or state of awareness that gives you information about the world. A feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion itself.”
The emotion is a state of awareness, and then the feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion. That gets a little bit tangled but the emotion is the thing, and the feeling is the experience of the thing. The emotion is the awareness, and the feeling is how you experience that awareness. Emotion is the thing, feeling is the response to the thing. Emotions are meant to communicate information.
We talked about the disorder of when you can’t feel pain and how it is deadly because if you can’t feel pain, you don’t know when your body is in jeopardy or danger. You don’t learn how to move around in the world without crushing your skull. People with that disorder of not being able to feel pain die very quickly because they don’t have the programming of their nervous system of how to protect themselves and how to interact with the world in a safe way.
It’s the same thing with emotions. This is a gross story. I don’t even know if it’s true but it drives the point home well. I heard it from a lecture and I never researched it to find out if it’s true. Way back in Bible times, there was a disease called leprosy. If you had leprosy, there was this huge social stigma around it because your body parts fell off. You lost your nose. Your fingers came off. Your skin would disappear and slough off.
For years, they thought that it was caused by some type of a microbe or pathogen like a flesh-eating bacteria. As they researched it, they found out that leprosy ate away at the myelin sheath of the nerve. It created a situation where the person who had leprosy couldn’t feel pain. As they would sleep, rats would chew on parts of their body and they didn’t wake up because they couldn’t feel it. That was the reason why their body parts were disappearing.
Emotions And Communication
I hope that’s not true. It’s disgusting. Even if it’s not true, it’s a great illustration of what it’s like to be emotionally numb. Your life is wreaking havoc and people are taking bites of you all the time. We see a way to numb a person and you’re no longer in your full self and full expression because you aren’t feeling your emotions. Emotions are meant to communicate information. When you don’t feel your emotions, you’re not getting that information.
If you’re unhappy and uncomfortable, if you feel shame and the constant pressure of other people’s expectations, and you don’t pay attention to that, your life is probably not very enjoyable to live. I can say that with a large degree of confidence because that was my reality. It took my big reckoning. There were little ones leading all the way up to it.
My big reckoning was congestive heart failure. I was in the hospital. I was given a number of years to live and I’m on a transplant list. That was when I’m like, “I want to pay attention and get my life in order. Get the internal reality straightened out first and then make the external changes that are in my heart.” It was heart failure and it was my emotional heart that needed my attention. We want to pay attention to the little reckonings, so you don’t wind up with the big reckonings. Take it from me, they’re not fun. Depending on how stubborn you are, it might be what you need but I hope not.
When I ask someone how they’re feeling, they usually give me their thoughts about the emotion instead of identifying the emotion itself, which is totally normal. If you say to someone, “How are you feeling?” They’ll say, “I’m feeling stressed.” Stress isn’t a feeling. Stress is a state. What is the feeling that goes with stress? It’s usually anxiety, which is a form of fear. Fear is a feeling.
It’s hard to integrate these two things because feeling and thinking are two separate areas of the brain. We could delineate this by saying the head and the heart. The heart is where the emotions live and the head is where the thoughts live. They’re absolutely incompatible. You can’t be in both at the same time. You can only be in your heart or your head, but never both at the same time.
They both have a function. The heart is meant to inform the head. The heart leads. The heart is the leader. The head is the figure-outer of how to get the heart what it needs and wants. There are two separate areas of the brain here that we’re talking about. The prefrontal cortex is where we have the executive function and thought. The limbic system is where our emotions live. The limbic system is where we receive and process those bits of information from emotions.The heart leads; it is the leader. The figures out how to get what the heart needs and wants. Click To Tweet
We can use the data we gathered there to think about what needs to happen but first, we need to know how we feel in a situation about a person or circumstance. We need to know how we feel about that. We need to use our heads to act on the feelings, not to negate, dismiss or stuff the feelings down, but to use our heads to act upon the information that our feelings gave us.
This is so critical because I see people shipwreck their lives all the time by trying to live out of their heads without first connecting with and receiving the information through their hearts. This is also where God talks to us. This is where we receive the guidance of the holy spirit. It’s important to commit to feel the feeling and get the information before we engage the head to decide how to do that, or what needs to happen based on what our heart is telling us.
There are seven core feelings. They are contempt, fear, happiness, anger, disgust, sadness and surprise. There are many more but these are seven core feelings that we can work with for simplicity sake. The beginning of emotional intelligence is to say, “How am I feeling?” Put yourself somewhere on that map, “I’m feeling happy. I’m feeling anxious, which is fear. I’m feeling angry. I’m feeling disgusted. I’m feeling sad.” It’s usually some combination of those. You can check in and feel where you are and begin to engage this internal world of yours, and reconnect your heart to your lived experience.
I don’t want to overwhelm you with information, but I’m going to leave you with that assignment. Write down those seven core feelings and check in with yourself from time to time, multiple times a day, “How am I feeling?” Identify one of those seven core feelings and then give it a rating of 1 to 10. One being, “Not at all,” versus ten being, “This is the biggest and strongest feeling ever.”
If you’re not used to feeling your feelings, you’re going to probably notice them on the lower end of the spectrum. As you begin to learn how to embody your feelings, you’re going to find yourself moving up that spectrum. I freak a lot of people out because I’m so connected with my emotions. Just like our caregivers, when you are not connected with your emotions and you experience somebody who is and lives in that place, you can be triggered by it. It’s like, “Are they crazy? What’s wrong with them?”
It was years ago that I had congestive heart failure. Since then, I’ve learned how to live out of my heart, to do what’s in my heart, and to put my brain and my executive function in the back seat of my heart driving the bus. The first step to that is to learn to identify your feelings. What I would like you to do is see if you can identify where you’re at in those seven core feelings and how strong they are. This is the beginning of emotional intelligence. Thank you so much. I will see you in the next episode.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Rise to Reign community today:
Are you a Prisoner or a Queen? (or something in between)
The four archetypes help you distinguish between your true identity and how you might react in times of stress or out of unhealed wounds. Your identity is defined as: a) The condition of being a certain person and/or b) the characteristics by which a person is known. How do you see yourself? How do others see you? Who does God say you are? By understanding the prisoner, slave, princess (prince) and Queen (King), you can be intentional about choosing to show up as your true self and stepping away from patterns of dysfunction.
You were born to reign. But you have to know who you are first. In this free download, I explain the four Rise to Reign Archetypes (Prisoner, Slave, Princess & Queen). Self awareness creates the ability to shift in the direction of your wildest dreams instead of your worst fears.