Journaling for Emotional Intelligence
Emotional awareness and empathy are huge concepts. We hear a lot of preaching on guarding our hearts, putting a watch on our mouths, walking circumspectly. We make effort, sometimes we succeed, sometimes not. The key is emotional awareness. If I don’t know what’s happening in my heart, from which all the issues of life flow, I have little chance of managing it. (Pr.4:23) It is so easy to walk around angry or fearful or even guilty, and yet not really aware of it.
Empathy is the ability to tune into where other people are at. As much as the Bible has to say about guarding our hearts, it may have even more to say about loving others. Empathy is what empowers loving others. Consider this in the light of healthy dialogue.
A friend at church has trouble respecting boundaries. If I flat out call him on it he will likely get offended. If I say nothing, I support bad behavior and pay a price. If I disassociate, I may also communicate rejection. So what’s the key? Empathy. With empathy I can try and see things from his perspective. I can look past the behavior into what may be driving it. With my own emotions sorted and empathy operating, I can embrace humility and create safety for dialogue.
Safe dialogue is another huge skill that flows from humility. I bring up a potentially volatile topic with my friend and ask him to share his heart. This is very different than accusing him of crossing a boundary. I’m seeking understanding, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that there may be more to the story than I realize. It’s not backing away from truth. I may still say, “When you did such and such it appeared that…;” however, the drive is for understanding and a way forward, not to be right, or justified, or to correct.
Through journaling I can exercise my emotional awareness and empathy and they will therefore grow. As I journal about what happened in a situation, how it made me feel, what may have been going on in the heart of the other person, I improve my skill. I don’t know of anything that gives a better rate of return than what we get by building emotional awareness and empathy. They are the key to excelling in dialogue. They are key in becoming that person on the job who has excellent people skills and so gets promoted. They are key in knowing myself, discovering my dreams and natural talents. Most of all, they are the key to a healthy relationship with God and an ability to cooperate with His dealings in my life.
Matt.12:34… For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
Lu.6:45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.