Last week Bud Harris, a Jungian analyst and author, posted a review of Healing the Sacred Divide on Amazon. In it he noted, “I have recommended this book to many people particularly for its sections on Emotional Integrity and Cultivating Emotional Intelligence.” Others have told me how much that part of the book means to them too, so I’d like to share a bit of it here.
Most of us believe we’re in touch with our emotions if we feel the basic ones like love, anger, fear, happiness, and sadness. But it is possible to feel and recognize some emotions and not others. Moreover, knowing you’re feeling an emotion doesn’t necessarily translate into the ability to contain it or use it wisely. Consider the following symptoms of emotional ignorance. Which of these have you experienced?
25 Common Symptoms of Emotional Ignorance
1. Feeling angry, happy, sad, anxious, afraid, guilty, ashamed, rebellious, hurt or sorry for yourself without knowing why or being able to control it.
2. Acting scornful, superior, patronizing, fearful, seductive, resentful, manipulative, critical, etc., without realizing it.
3. Not recognizing, understanding, or being able to admit to having a certain emotion, even when you experience it in a dream or someone points it out to you in waking life.
4. Recognizing and responding from your anger while ignoring the hurt, sadness, fear, self-pity, self-doubt, guilt, or other less-obvious emotion that gave rise to it.
5. Being swamped by a strong emotion–for example, grief, jealousy, fear, or anger–and allowing it to escalate to the point that it hurts you, another person, or a relationship.
6. Becoming infatuated or falling in love with someone you barely know.
7. Acting on your attraction to someone without being able to control yourself when it would be hurtful to you, him/her, or other innocent people.
8. Having obsessive and/or intrusive fears, thoughts, anxieties, or worries you can’t control that are unrelated to chemical imbalances or mental illness.
9. Trying to alleviate anxiety or other uncomfortable emotions with excessive use of cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, or compulsive/addictive behaviors.
10. Feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, or drained of energy on a regular basis without knowing why (except for the last, which could, of course, have a physical cause).
11. Expecting others to make you happy and blaming them for your unhappiness instead of taking responsibility for (which requires admitting to) your own feelings and the unsatisfactory life situations that give rise to them.
12. Feeling guilty or critical of yourself for having certain normal human emotions such as anger, fear, or self-pity; or, at the opposite extreme, pleasure, happiness or joy.
13. Habitually expressing only the emotions you think you should express based on your family’s emotional personality.
14. Feeling justified or not caring when you do or say something that hurts someone else.
15. Feeling no compassion for people who are hurting. This includes yourself.
16. Holding grudges without wanting or trying to resolve them.
17. Hating/despising others who are different from you; and/or hating/despising yourself for being different from others.
18. Being caught in a repetitive cycle of abuse, remorse, and over-compensation toward another person; or allowing another person to act that way toward you.
19. Expecting others to meet your emotional and/or physical needs without noticing or appreciating how they meet yours; or believing you have to meet another person’s emotional and/or physical needs whether or not they notice or appreciate your efforts.
20. Avoiding apologizing or talking with someone you have hurt because you don’t want to feel the guilt or admit to having said or done something hurtful.
21. Being unwilling or unable to cry or grieve over your pain or losses.
22. Being unable to enjoy your successes.
23. Feeling a strong internal pressure to habitually act cheerful and put on a happy face regardless of how you really feel.
24. Habitually withholding your true emotions from your partner, family, or friends.
If you see any of these symptoms in yourself, welcome to the human race. If you are ready to deal with them, welcome to the threshold of consciousness.
The Wilbur Award is given by the Religion Communicators Council for excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and for encouraging understanding among faith groups on a national level.