Posts Tagged ‘emotional literacy’

“Excuse me, is that your bag?”

Is this phrase burned into your psyche? No? That could only be possible if you don’t ride the DC metro rail system where the perky recorded woman’s voice asks us to quiz our fellow commuters when we see any unattended bags.  We’re all fighting terrorism together. So if you “see something, say something.”

There are other DC metro rail practices. For example, don’t be an “esca-lefter.” This means if you are standing on the escalator, stand on the right to allow those walking up a left side passage. Tourists have a difficult time with this one. If you come to visit, remember conformity to social norms isn’t always something you should resist.

You guessed it. I’m not an escalator stander. And I especially feel like a champion when I’m not a stander at the Rosslyn metro stop. That escalator is a tremendous beast and it’s a definite stroke to my ego when I trek up the left side the whole way up.  Just this last week a white bearded cheery man standing on the right….ahem, as I left him in my dust…said to his companion, “here comes someone with energy!” I flashed him the most sugary smile I could muster at the moment.

You see, I’m one of those former high school athletes that still has the heart of a champion, but sits in front of a computer for about 8 hrs a day, not realizing those days are long since passed until I try to bust it out like the good old days and end up heaving for air.  When I knock it out on the metro, I reassure myself “I still got it!”

Get the logic?

Get that it’s my ego?

Yeah, that’s an easy one to call, but the problem with the ego is that often others can see it when you can’t. That’s why Christianity often describes pride as causing blindness.  It doesn’t make everyone blind, though, just you. Heads up.

It revolutionized my life and my spirituality when I started to be aware of my ego and my weaknesses. Once I was able to be aware of them, I could start to work on changing them.

The closer I’ve gotten to Christ, the more convicted I am by my weaknesses. But, the Holy Spirit provides enabling power to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. It’s amazing how the Lord makes demanding requirements of us and then gives us the power to meet the requirement’s demands.

As I personally engage in this ongoing process, I have to “dig deeper” like Shaun T says in those Insanity videos. (It’s a great workout and I love the powerjacks.) Digging deeply inside myself makes me better aware of who I am and helps me understand more of who I can become as I access the power of Christ‘s Atonement in my life.

And my favorite part about it is it makes me more secure because I view myself more as a work-in-progress rather than in need of masking imperfections. This makes me better able to give of myself in relationships that are important to me. Because of digging deeply and working with the Lord on my weaknesses, I see others more for their potential and increase in patience and admiration for them. It also makes it difficult to offend me. And I love that.

This week in my Religion and Politics in the U.S. class, we discussed New Age religion. The book we read, What Really Matters by Tony Schwartz described some retreats where people purge themselves of repressed emotions by specific practices. I thought it was fascinating and wanted to discover any of my own repressed emotions, so I can liberate them, but I was skeptical of the sweeping claim.  I told the class I was doubtful that in several weekends, you could identify years of repressed emotions and get over them, if you really wanted to. My classmate who is a man in his upward 60′s responded saying he had done such weekend retreats and in several weekends you can have cathartic experiences that reveal all your repressed emotions. The caveat was you have to go in willing to submit yourself to the process. He said it’s important to do such activities in groups because you can often see yourself and your weaknesses in other’s behavior and personalities. Now that’s being willing to lay aside your ego. It was a much softer and humbler side of this man than I anticipated was present in him.

It would be tremendously easier to remain on the surface of myself and with the world, but I find that intensely dissatisfying. How do people live their whole life without searching for deeper meaning? Do they feel numb instead of alive? The American economic model lends well to superficial living, materially, emotionally and spiritually. It takes work to go a different direction.

Digging deeper is a much better way to live. I highly recommend it.

But I’m not ready to give up feeling like a champion dominating the Rosslyn metro escalator. If you see me coming, be sure to stand on the right and make room for my ego.

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I have the lesson today in Relief Society, which is the women’s Sunday School-ish class.  The men have the same lesson, only in their own meeting.

The lesson manual focuses on the 10 commandments, found in Exodus 20,  directly related to dishonesty:

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

The lesson said we’re not to lie, cheat or steal.

As the teacher, it’s my responsibility to make the lesson tailored to the sisters.  For those who long ago made a commitment to give our hearts to Christ, these basic commandments make for really boring lessons. Okay, I guess I’m just talking about myself.  I’m bored when the lesson is something that I learned when I was 10 years old and it doesn’t bring in any new insights from those first lessons.

So I re-wrote the lesson.

I framed it in terms of a covenant relationship with God. This is the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) unique claim, afterall.  Because Christ‘s Church was lost from the earth, God wanted to restore mankind’s ability to live in a covenant relation with Him. Covenants begin with ordinances administered by His authority.

In today’s lesson, we’ll discuss honesty in terms of the following framework:

I. Our covenant relationship with God requires honesty with Him

II. Our covenant relationship with God requires honesty with ourselves

III. Our covenant relationship with God requires honesty with others

The last portion will include a section on how emotional honesty affects our relationship in each of these categories

Emotional honesty influences our relationships with God, ourselves and others.

This idea came to me when watching this video below  in between general conference sessions last week.  (In general conference, the Prophet and Apostles address the Church and the world.)

Look for Chris’ emotional honesty in the video

Because of Chris’ emotional honesty, I believe he was able to access the Atonement of Christ.  Because he was able to access the Atonement, he was enabled to forgive Cameron, the teenaged drunk driver who hit his car and killed his wife and two of his children.  Because of Chris’ decision to access the Atonement, he was emotionally available to support his grieving children.

Look for the following specific examples of his emotional honesty:

a.   He was honest in his prayers with the Lord with how he felt Chris: “When I kneel down and desire to speak to my Father in Heaven when I am so anguished it’s an interesting conversation to have. He didn’t try to make it better, He listened at first and that was very helpful .  He allowed me to get that anger off my chest, but inevitably He would always come back and teach me about His Son.  When I did feel anger or loneliness, I didn’t direct it at the person who caused this, it directed itself at the Savior.

b. . His emotional honesty made him humble and sensitive to the Spirit: “I remember sensing and feeling that I needed to let this go.”

c.. His emotional honesty enabled him to express himself to the drunk driver and then forgive him: [Cameron when he first met Chris] “He was completely willing to talk about what happened that night and how he felt about it. [Cameron’s Mom speaking] “He said some things that Cameron needed to hear and he didn’t mince words. He let him know how he was feeling .” Cameron: “He wants me to let go of what happened. He wants me to pick a date and forget. Just move on from what happened completely.”

Questions to Ponder and Discuss

How did emotional honesty enable Chris (the father in the video) to access the Atonement and forgive? Do you think Chris could have forgiven Cameron without first expressing his honest feelings to the Lord?

How would emotional dishonesty harden the heart?

How does emotional honesty affect our spirituality?

The Point I’m hoping to make about honesty and spirituality

For those interested in spirituality, emotional health should not be neglected.  The Spirit is a voice we feel.  (1 Kings 19:11) Denying the sincere feelings of our hearts makes us hard hearted and disconnected from God, His Spirit, ourselves and our neighbor. We’re commanded to love each.

I believe it was through Chris’ emotional honesty that he was able to grieve in a way that turned his heart to the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He wouldn’t have been able to do it alone. Christ gives us power beyond our own, but we have to take personal steps to access His power.

I’m looking forward to the insights that come out in the lesson. What are your thoughts on the topic?


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Do you agree that men are like blowtorches and women are like ovens?

This Facebook conversation prompted this post:

“[MollyMormon] considers it such good manners for men to smell delicious on the metro.”

Brandon:  feeling a bit peckish are we? ;)

Me: By peck, do you mean ranking people in social class? I’m not one to rank people into hierarchies, but I am one to appreciate good hygiene.:)

Brandon: hehe, actually i was going off of your use of “delicious” and using peckish as in hungry or feeling snacky. :)

Me: Haha, no. That kind of hunger in women, at least this woman, is the fruit of some kind of emotional draw resulting from admiration and some degree of trust. I’ve never been hungry for a stranger. The thought is completely foreign to me. I should begin polling other women to see if they feel similarly. Maybe at Church this Sunday.:)

Brandon: hehe, well wouldn’t that be a biased group to ask, unless you’re only interested in lds women

Me: yeah, I’d be interested in those who are trying to live the Law of Chastity. I guess that doesn’t limit it only to LDS women, but that’d be the most accessible for my time. I’ll just plan on passing around a survey during Relief Society.:)

Brandon: hehe, i’d love to hear the results… if it works well, i’ll send copies to my friends in other parts of the nation… see if there’s a regional factor. (wow, i’m really sounding like a nerd)

Me: ooo, maybe I could create a blog post with a survey. That would have a nationwide access…:)

Brandon: yeah, as long as you don’t limit acess to the blog.

Me access is public I really was kidding this whole time, but I’m liking this idea..

Brandon: oh, so you were playing to my nerdiness… i see how you work young lady ;)

Me: My dear Brandon, but you make it so fun!

A.L.: lol – [MollyMormon], is the question whether or not we’ll swoon for a guy we don’t know that smells like heaven (I would say yes, pretty much every girl will as long as the ‘type’ factor is there, altho it definitely helps their appeal if it isn’t), or if we’re ever hungry for a stranger? Two totally different things – one is attraction, the other…well, lust. I can’t say I’ve never lusted (Mormon style) after a stranger…especially if the ‘type’ and heavenly scent factors are there!

“Men Are Like Blowtorches, Women are Like Ovens”

“Men Are Like Blowtorches, Women are Like Ovens” is chapter 10  in John Gray’s book, Mars and Venus on a Date. I read this over Christmas break.  I want to be as emotionally healthy as possible and I believe emotional literacy makes that more achievable for me. Reading publications regarding relationships opens a whole new world of self awareness for me. It becomes a starting point of things I want to figure out about myself and if given the opportunity, that I can understand about another person. This  in turn makes me much better able to extend myself emotionally to someone in a dating relationship and also helps me navigate better my other valued relationships, namely my family, friends, colleagues and members of my congregation. I recommend this book.  It’s a good starting point, though I’m conscious of the generalizing.

After this Facebook exchange, I realized my thought of never being hungry for a stranger was connected to what I read in this book. Its concepts were spot on with my own experience.

Dr. Gray described the stages of attraction as follows:

Level One for Men: Physical Attraction: “A woman needs to remember that even if he does not know anything about her except how she looks, he will suddenly start to feel physically attracted. His attraction has nothing to do with who this women is, nor does it reflect a willingness or desire to know her or have a relationship with her. He only wants to see more, touch more, and feel more”

Level Two for Men: Emotional Attraction: “When a man feels emotional chemistry, he feels friendly and affectionate toward a woman not just because he feels physically attracted; he wants to be close because he likes her as well. Emotional chemistry has a lot to do with a person’s personality. Personality is how you relate to the world and others.”

Level Three for Men: Mental Attraction: “By exercising discernment and choosing only to date women he is attracted to physically and emotionally, a man begins to develop mental attraction. He is intrigued by a woman and wants to touch who she is and not just her body. He is not just attracted to her physically, nor does he just enjoy being friends with her. In level three he is attracted to her character as well. He is fascinated by the way she thinks, the way she feels, and the way she conducts her life.”

Level Four for Men: Soul Attraction: “Continuing to exercise his growing discernment by choosing to date only women who attract him on all three levels–physical, emotional and mental–a man begins to realize his ability to feel soul attraction. When he reaches level four, his heart opens.”

Level One for Women: Mental Attraction: “Women are first attracted to men in their minds. A woman imagines what a man is like and is attracted to something in his character…she needs only date those men she finds most interesting.”

I think this is why LDS women in very preliminary stages often imagine if they could be married to the person.  It seems crazy because she doesn’t know the man, but it’s a way of determining if there can be potential.

Level Two for Women: Emotional Attraction: “At this level a woman is attracted to a man’s personality.”

Level Three for Women: Physical Attraction: “At this level, when a man holds her hand, puts his arm around her, or gives her a kiss, a lot of physical attraction is felt. Just as a man at level one longs to  touch, a woman at level three longs to be touched.”

Level Four for Women: Soul Attraction: “She is able to fall in love with a man who has stimulated her on all four levels of attraction. She reaches level four, soul attraction, with her heart open…her open heart makes her capable of seeing the good in her partner, even though he is neither perfect nor able to fulfill all her needs.”

Unhealthy emotional chemistry (this section is in the back of the book, not in chapter 10)

Warning Signals of Unhealthy Chemistry in Women “She feels sexually attracted to a man right away. This is a sign that she is reacting to her expectation of who this man is, not the man himself. Before acting on this chemistry, she needs to make sure they have moved through the first three stages.”

Warning Signals of Unhealthy Chemistry in Men “He gets involved because a woman puts pressure on him, but he doesn’t feel a sexual attraction. She may even assure him that it will develop over time. While a woman’s sexual feelings do develop over time, a man tends to feel it from the start or not at all.” p. 367

These descriptions are consistent with my experience.  In hindsight, I can see I made the mistake described in the unhealthy chemistry section, which is really embarrassing now. However,  normally I don’t feel a strong physical attraction until stage 3. I’m wondering if Dr. Gray’s generalizations apply to more than myself and my friend whose initials are shown as “A.L.”

Since it’s taking me too long to insert a quiz, we’ll just use the comment section. You are welcome to remain anonymous.

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Generally speaking the levels of attraction as described by Dr. Gray are consistent with my personal experience.


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