Have you ever known someone, a friend or relative maybe, that lives their life purely by how they feel? They make important decisions in the heat of the moment and wonder why things never work out for them. This is also the kind of person who always blurts out the first thought that pops into their head and then follows it up with something like, “That’s just who I am, I don’t have any filter, deal with it”. While this behavior can be fun for that person or even comical to the rest of us, it can also be very dangerous in terms of relationships. Much like making a bad decision due to a lack of knowledge will certainly have it’s consequences, poorly chosen words or actions due to a lack of emotional intelligence can lead to the destruction of a relationship.
Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ) is the capability of someone to recognize their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions as well as other people’s feelings and emotions. There are basically three beings that we interact with and they are: ourselves, other people, and God. That means that there is a corresponding EQ component for each of these areas. Your measure of EQ correlates directly with your ability to apply that emotional information that guides your thinking and your behavior. Now, we can have all the information in the world, but if we don’t apply it or act on that information then we really aren’t intelligent in that area after all.
When we become Christ followers, we begin to be aware of our identity in Christ. That identity is of course who He uniquely made us to be. This revelation of identity equips us to be more emotionally intelligent, which then leads us to the first component of EQ called self-awareness. In the post today we will discuss the first of the three components of EQ, which is self awareness. Later, we will discuss the other two components of EQ, social awareness and God awareness.
1st Component of EQ – “Self Awareness”
A great step in pursuing self awareness is to participate in a self assessment. There are several out there that can help you, but you should do your homework and investigate the basis for their assessment types. Many excellent assessments are behavioral based programs, but our behaviors can change over time due to our environment, circumstances, or even our increased EQ. My wife and I like a popular “driving core motive” based assessment called “Color Code”, because our driving core motives don’t appear to change over time. Our friends at Motive Matters who train leadership, couples, and individuals introduced us to this system. The knowledge gained from this system has greatly impacted countless marriages for good in very dramatic ways. As you begin to learn more about your strengths and limitations, you will naturally become more self aware. This is where we must begin to apply what we know, and not just merely “know it” or this “knowledge” will simply fade away without any lasting impact.
Thoughts Entering our Minds
At this point we should come to the realization that we are aware of ourselves and that there are opportunities to make choices when dealing with our thoughts. We can either allow every thought that pops into our head to take root into our “heart”, or we can do as directed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
So how do we do this? Simple, measure those thoughts against Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”
It is a simple process but certainly not easy, at least not at first. This skill of becoming aware that not every thought or feeling we have is true is critical because not every thought or feeling is worthy of placement into our heart. What we allow into our heart becomes demonstrative of who we are by what we say and how we act as said in Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart[a] brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
We must pursue sanctifying our minds to be like Christ and do as in Romans 12:2 (NIV)
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Feelings Influencing Your Emotions
Feelings are very much like the thoughts that bombard our minds in the way that our feelings can’t be trusted to always be true. We must also measure the validity of those feelings based on the truth of the entire situation, because circumstances could be different than what we are actually able to perceive in that moment. Feelings are powerful fuel for invoking our emotions that influence the choices we make in conjunction with the thoughts that have entered into our minds. If we aren’t taking the time to be emotionally intelligent with our thoughts and feelings, we might make the wrong choices based on short term feelings instead of an established truth.
Free Will Driving Your Choices
As believers in Christ we are given an incredible gift in this area, that is of course if we choose to use this gift. How do I know this? Just look at what the bible says is the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 (NIV). A key fruit that is given to us by God, through the Holy Spirit, and resides in us is self-control. This gift is not only an evidence that we are followers of Christ, but it is also an evidence that you are gaining emotional intelligence.
We are all given free will by God, and He allows us to make our own choices. We really do have the power of our own will to make our own choices, but the key is to make a conscious effort of self management based on measuring the truth of both our feelings and our thoughts at any given moment of decision. If we are not diligent in this area we may begin to lose our emotional intelligence, and this diminishing EQ is preceded by our lack of acting on the choice of exercising discernment of the truth. We then begin to make poor choices because they are based on the what the relentless flesh wants which is driven by unregulated thoughts and feelings that enter our heart. On the contrary, when we learn to apply this gift of self control in our daily lives it also leads to increasing our EQ and healthier relationships with others.
Gaining this intelligence through the gift of self control is extremely helpful in marriage, and could mean the difference between misery and happiness. Stay tuned for future posts when we discuss the other two components of EQ, social awareness and God awareness.