Emotional Intelligence for Growth
So Simple We Miss It
Remember TV shows like The Brady Bunch, Eight is Enough, The Waltons, and Little House On The Prairie? In the typical story, one of the family members faces a challenge they think is too big to handle, or something happens where they get their feelings hurt. They wrestle with the problem, talk it out with the family, feel emotionally supported as they struggle with it, and find a way forward in a way that brings personal growth.
This seems simple enough; however, there are some very profound principles here.
There are definable characteristics of families that operate in a shame-base versus a respect-base manner of interaction. Perfectionism is one of them. With perfectionism there is no middle ground, something is either right or wrong, in or out. Perfectionism is a control behavior that uses shame. Anything can be under its scrutiny; eating, cleaning, school grades, personal grooming, having money and how it is used, even physical health are subject to the perfectionism standard. The individual’s worth as a person is always in question.
The three well-known characteristics of a dysfunctional, or shame-based family are: don’t talk, don’t trust, and don’t feel. In this environment, there is no learning about who we are, or personal growth, because it is not okay to make a mistake. If I happen to say the wrong thing, I get rejected and shamed. Nobody talks about what happened, what was going on in my heart that prompted my statement, nor is there any emotional support to work through what was in me.
A Respect-Based Family
With a respect-based family, people are free to make mistakes. There is a safe environment. Blame and talking about others faults is not condoned. There are still consequences for wrong actions and bad behavior, but they are handled in a way that does not take away the person’s dignity. The person is thus free to discover what their feelings were and what went wrong. Growth therefore is possible.
Healthy Emotional Awareness and Its Fruit
People that grow up in respect-based families reach their adult years and have some sense of knowing who they are. It was safe to feel their feelings, so they have a sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are. They were allowed to make mistakes, face consequences, and therefore learn some autonomy, therefore, they don’t struggle with a victim mentality. They have a “life is possible” outlook, and there is confidence to step out and try new things. They are not threatened by others that are different or who have opposing view points, nor are they afraid to hold their own view point when it goes against the tide, yet without needing to move into devaluing others.
This also has huge implications for the church. We have had an incredible amount of preaching based in the perfectionism standard. Consequently, not much growth has occurred. Some people who have been Christians 20 or 30 years still have “childish” issues they have not overcome. Christians often have little sense of who they are and what their calling is, let alone the hope in fulfilling it. The world often views us as condescending and sanctimonious, it is no wonder they have little interest in what we offer.
I truly believe in the coming years we will see an emotionally mature church, a spotless bride at Christ’s return. One who emotionally supports, loves, and respects all people.