Minister’s Musing

 

October 2020

Our theme for exploration this month is Emotional Intelligence. In this moment when our world seems to be in such turmoil: a global pandemic, intensifying consequences of climate change, the painful and persistent costs of systemic racism, direct threats to our understanding of US democracy, this is an apt time to take a look at our emotions and to consider our emotional response to the world.

Emotional intelligence as a concept is often traced back to Howard Gardner’s 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardiner, a developmental psychologist, introduced the idea of multiple intelligences—that rather than one single way of understanding aptitude, there are a number of ways of understanding intelligence, including: musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal. It is these last two that give us a sense of emotional intelligence: an ability to recognize and to understand one’s own emotions, as well as an ability to perceive and respond to emotions in others.

Often, describing someone as emotional is a subtle putdown.  We are admonished to not be so emotional. When what is really meant is that we should be more rational, more logical, more controlled. Recognizing emotional iIntelligence reminds us that our emotions are not a distraction from real and productive thought—emotions are actually central to how we can imagine ourselves and move in the world.

In his consideration of coming to terms with his emotions: “My Feelings Are Not My Enemies,” the author Miguel Clark Mallet highlights that “neuroscientist Antonio Damasio…contends that emotions and feelings are central to human consciousness and they play a critical role in reasoning itself. ‘Rather than being a luxury, emotions are a very intelligent way of driving an organism to certain outcomes.”

Emotional Intelligence is how we perceive, understand, use, and manage our emotions. It speaks to our ability to make wise use of our emotions. And it speaks to our ability to connect more deeply to the world around us. Emotional intelligence is a way for us to live with compassion and empathy for ourselves and each other.

So, how do we get in touch with our emotions?

One way is mindfulness and mediation. This may be entering into periods of deep and intentional stillness. Another practice is to deepen your body scan meditation by not simply bringing your attention to what you are feeling physically in each part of your body. Acknowledge also what emotions you are holding in each part of your body.  And finally, consider the practice of journaling; set aside time each day to reflect on what emotions you felt during the day and what was happening around you when you felt these emotions. Whether you explore one of these practices, or another that you choose, I hope you will use this month to cultivate your emotional intelligence.

 

 

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Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of the South Fork

977 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike
P.O. Box 1444
Bridgehampton, NY 11932
631-537-0132

Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson 
minister@uucsf.org

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