Today, I want to help you discover your emotional level.
In this series of posts, we are considering the people in the story of Israel, why that generation of men that got out of Egypt could not consummate the dream of entering the promised land. And we discovered that one of the reasons was that the people of Israel did not let the Holy Spirit, the Almighty God, change their lives. The second reason was that the people of Israel, that generation who got out of Egypt, did not grow emotionally. By not growing emotionally, they did not let the Holy Spirit transform their lives. Why? Simply, because emotional growth must be proportional to our spiritual growth.
Let’s go deeper into why emotional growth is important.
You cannot grow beyond where your parents grew emotionally because they were your first models and instructors when you had to learn how to express your emotions and how to love. What I mean by this is that you cannot go beyond the emotional dynamics you learn in your family.
If you are struggling because you do not know how to solve your emotional issues, how to handle your emotions, or how to express your love for your wife and children, and you see that you have issues, maybe the problem is linked to the emotional dynamics you lived back in your childhood. If your parents were not helping you grow emotionally, you could be having problems handling your emotions and expressing your love for other people in the present.
The first school you had when learning about emotional intelligence was at home, with your parents, and in those aspects is where many people’s problems lie. Their parents did not teach them how to grow emotionally and they are struggling in their life today.
In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Peter Scazzero presents the different stages people go through in their emotional growth.
The first stage is the one he considers the “emotional babies,” and there are many people who behave as such. They try to find people who can take care of them, they find it difficult to enter the emotional world of others because they behave like babies. They are driven by the need to be gratified. They use others as objects so their needs can be met, and they are continuously depending on someone else.
The second stage is the “emotional children.” They manifest themselves when they are under pressure, trying to find solutions or when having problems in life. This kind of person explodes when they have work problems or problems at home. They cannot control themselves because they are emotional children. They interpret disagreement as a personal offense. They attack and cannot control themselves. They cannot have healthy relationships because every criticism they receive is an emotional problem for them. They feel hurt easily, complain a lot, or withdraw themselves from situations, manipulate, get revenge, and are sarcastic when they do not get what they want. They find it difficult to talk in a nice, mature, and calm way about their needs and the things they want.
Then, people can reach the “emotional adolescent” stage. They are used to being on the defensive. Criticism makes them feel threatened and alarmed. If your wife criticizes you because you left the garbage or your shoes in the wrong place, you take that criticism personally and explode. You do not know how to handle your emotions or how to handle criticism. You take everything personally.
Besides feeling threatened and alarmed by criticism, they keep score of what they give so they can ask for something in return. I mean, they are continuously giving, serving and helping, but then they feel bad if people do not provide them the same. They deal with conflicts poorly. They are generally blaming others, appeasing, going to a third person, building emotional triangles, frowning their faces, or completely ignoring the subject. And, maybe, you see people behaving like this in your own family or your place of work. If so, it is because they are emotional adolescents; They have not grown. They have not reached the emotional maturity they need to reach.
Emotional adolescents are concerned with themselves. They find it difficult to truly listen to other people’s pain, disappointment, or needs. They are critical and judgmental. They cannot grow. They do not burst the emotional bubble that keeps them tied to their past, to what they learned in childhood.
“Emotional adults” also exist. May God help us reach this kind of emotional maturity and help us be emotional adults. They can ask for what they need, want, or prefer in a clear, direct, and honest way. They recognize, control and take responsibility for their own thoughts and feelings. They do not blame others for the negative experiences or feelings they have. They take responsibility and say, “I feel this way because I let myself feel this way. Nobody controls how I am going to react to something.” They react in a mature way, and can, even under pressure, affirm their own beliefs and principles without being adverse.
There are people who cannot talk to emotional adults because they take everything personally, get agitated, or lose control. This is linked with the fact that a person like this has not grown emotionally. The person who grows emotionally, who reaches adulthood, behaves in a mature way and knows how to handle emotions and how to respect others without changing them. That person makes room for mistakes and recognizes that he/she is not perfect. Nobody is perfect.
The emotional adult recognizes that people are not perfect and tries to give them the benefit of the doubt because it is necessary when building healthy relationships. He or she also appreciates people as they are: good or bad, and not for what they give in return.
I accept you unconditionally. Jesus accepts you unconditionally, and God does too. But, people who do not grow emotionally accept you under certain conditions. Emotional adults accept you as you are. They evaluate their own limits, strengths, and weaknesses with precision, and they can discuss them with others freely. They feel satisfied and happy when they get what they want. They are also in deep harmony with their own emotional world. And, they can enter the emotional needs, feelings. and concerns of others without losing themselves in the process. They can solve conflicts in a mature way, and can negotiate solutions taking other people’s perspectives into account.
And you, friend, who are reading this blog, I challenge you to grow. If you are an emotional baby or child, set your mind on growing even more every day in your emotional life, in your relationships.
May God help you discover how to grow emotionally and reach the stature He wants you to reach, through these words about learning how to love, how to be a husband, a father, or a wife and a mother who knows how to handle emotions and to glorify God in everything you do.