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John Bradshaw - Emotional Intelligence: What Is It?


John Bradshaw - Emotional Intelligence: What Is It?
John Bradshaw - Emotional Intelligence: What Is It?
TOPICS: Emotions

This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, thanks for joining me. When it comes to matters of faith, matters of the Bible, faith in God is, by very definition, a rather intellectual exercise, that is to say, what does the Bible say? And beyond that, what does the Bible mean? However, faith in God is faith in God. It's not just about a belief system. A person who has faith in God enters into a relationship with an individual. So far from simply the intellect being involved, the emotions are and must be involved when it comes to matters of faith. How can a person be emotionally healthy, and how does that, or even does that, affect our relationship with God? We're going to find that out today, because my guest, my special guest, is Dr. Neil Nedley, the president of Nedley Health Solutions. Dr. Nedley, thanks for being here, welcome to It Is Written.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Thank you. Great to be here, John.

John Bradshaw: Intelligence.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: It's not just about the mind, it's about the emotions, because I'm hearing more and more, and I'm hearing quite a bit of it from you, about emotional intelligence.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Now, what's that?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Emotional intelligence is really five things. Knowing our emotions, in other words, being aware of what we are feeling and why, precisely, why we're feeling that way. Secondly, managing our emotions. People with low emotional intelligence are managed by their emotions. People with high emotional intelligence still have emotions, but they are managing those emotions.

John Bradshaw: That's a really key point, that, isn't it?

Dr. Neil Nedley: It is.

John Bradshaw: Not being controlled by, but controlling your emotion.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly. And controlling your emotions is also vital for part of the psychological good life that's been emerging in a lot of studies, called self-control. Those who have self-control actually psychologically are far better off than those who don't. The key element of that is managing our emotions. That's part of self-control.

John Bradshaw: And what are the other three?

Dr. Neil Nedley: The third one is recognizing emotions in others and really having some empathy towards others, which is part of recognizing emotions in others. Fourth is managing relationships with others. And then five, in the word "emotion" is the word "motion". And so the fifth part of emotional intelligence is motivating yourself to achieve your goals.

John Bradshaw: What do we talk about when we talk about our emotions? They are joy, sadness, you tell me.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Sure. Actually, calm is an emotion too. Sometimes we think calm is not feeling. But no, the emotion of feeling calm is actually normally a good thing. Bitterness, sadness, disappointment.

John Bradshaw: Okay. So why is emotional intelligence important?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, IQ is our capacity to learn, retain, and apply knowledge. And emotional intelligence is being able to manage our emotions, to know them, manage our relationships with others, and proper motivation.

John Bradshaw: Do we need to make a big deal out of this, or can't people just be people?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Oh, people can be people. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be ourselves and be people. But we should, actually, be balanced people and in control of ourself.

John Bradshaw: It's not being managed by your emotions but managing your emotions.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly. We all go through nuisances of life. Studies show that successful and enjoyable living is much more connected to emotional intelligence than general intelligence.

John Bradshaw: Okay, that's key. You can be someone who's emotionally intelligent, but you can lose your grip.

Dr. Neil Nedley: You can lose your grip.

John Bradshaw: With bad consequences.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And what is ideal, I mean, not only is it ideal, but it really ramps it up, is when we have comprehensive emotional intelligence all the time. And it's possible. Not only is it possible; it is something that every human being can actually achieve.

John Bradshaw: How do you take this thing under, get your emotions under control and function really positively?

Dr. Neil Nedley: There's two main ways. One of the ways that often, you know, studies focus in onto is what we're putting into our body and what we're doing with our body. So, for instance, if you're on a regular exercise program, it helps your emotional intelligence. If you're getting adequate sleep, it helps your emotional intelligence. If you're eating the right foods, it helps the emotional intelligence. So those are important, but, it turns out, not the most important. As important as those are, the most important thing affecting our emotional intelligence is our beliefs, our evaluation of events, the way we think about problems, and our silent self-talk. This is the moment-by-moment messages we give ourself. That is the most crucial aspect to emotional intelligence.

John Bradshaw: But you can eat your way to healthier emotions?

Dr. Neil Nedley: A few years ago there was a businessman who won the contract for the California prisons. The first thing he did was he had a nutritionist interview the prisoners coming in to the California state prison. And the nutritionist told them what they were eating could actually have an effect on their emotions and emotional intelligence. And it turns out that the diet that she was recommending, and, of course, there's scientific backing for this, was a plant-based diet. And some prisoners thought it was punishment enough to be in prison, but to be on a plant-based diet would be cruel and unusual punishment, so they chose the typical American diet. But it turns out over 90% of the prisoners chose the plant-based diet, meaning that she was a good educator, and they were motivated to try this diet. Within a few weeks, they mentioned how, you know, for anyone who's been in a prison, there are stressful things that happen in that prison, from the other prisoners and from the guards and herding the prisoners around, and... lot of stressful things. But they noticed that they were able to manage their emotions, and they were able to talk to the security guard, even if they were upset, they were able to talk to him in measured tones, and the security guard actually listened to them. And they said, "You know what, I think if I were eating like this on the outside, I probably never would have ended up in there". The people that got out, it was actually a correctional facility. And so they were corrected, to a large part, in regards to what they were putting into their bodies. So it can have a crucial impact.

John Bradshaw: Controlling your emotions, you can control your emotions and be emotionally intelligent. And that's gonna have a powerful impact on your relationship with God. Don't go away. We'll have more in just a moment.

John Bradshaw: This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thank you for joining me today. I'm being joined by Dr. Neil Nedley, the president of Nedley Health Solutions, and today we're discussing emotional intelligence. We hear about IQ, but what about EQ? We're learning that a person can be in control of their emotions rather than be controlled by their emotions. And, Dr. Nedley, there are so many people who loathe themselves because they lose their temper, or there are people who wish that they could be up because they continually seem to be in a funk. And I know that right now lights are going on, and people are saying, "You mean I don't have to be a slave to my emotions"?

Dr. Neil Nedley: No, absolutely not. In fact, we have the evidence. In just 10 days, now, it's a comprehensive program, but, you know, for instance, right now even as we're speaking here, I'm running a 10-day program for those with severe depression and anxiety. One of the tests they take is an emotional intelligence test when they come in. And when they leave, they'll take it again, 10 days later. Our program enhances the frontal lobe, analyzes the way they think, those sorts of things. It's not specifically for EQ, but what happens in the average mentally ill individual is their emotional intelligence goes up by well over two standard deviations. They start out below average in general, and they end up in the top 20 percentile of the country in most instances. So not only do they leave depression- and anxiety-free; they also are poised for success on a level that's far higher than people who've never suffered from depression and anxiety. So the point is, in 10 days, if you focus in on it in the right way, it can dramatically change for the better. So emotional intelligence can be learned. It's not just inherited.

John Bradshaw: If I believe a certain race of people have no right to live, this is going to dramatically affect the way I express my emotions, hate, persecutional, that may be not an emotion, and that's going to affect how I act out towards people.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: If I believe in "love your neighbor as yourself," surely then that's going to impact my emotions.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: What was number 2?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Our evaluation of events.

John Bradshaw: Meaning something happened, and how do I perceive that and weigh that up.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Explain that.

Dr. Neil Nedley: What we want to do is to be very objective in our evaluation of events.

John Bradshaw: For instance, that lady who served me at the checkout, she was rude; she had an attitude towards me. I'm so ticked off. However, somebody else says, "You know, I saw that she had just dropped a box on her toe and she was under some stress, and therefore..". Is this what we're talking about, evaluating events?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Our bad emotions are not caused by things outside of ourself entirely.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: For instance, if the person was very rude to you at the counter, what you need to recognize is for you to get upset at that, you have to actually not only be treated rudely, but you have to allow that individual to get you upset.

John Bradshaw: That's true. You have to make a decision...

Dr. Neil Nedley: There's a decision and there's a thought-making process there.

John Bradshaw: That's really interesting.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And part of emotional intelligence is recognizing that we are actually responsible for our own emotions.

John Bradshaw: Point three and point four. Evaluating events, that's learning to look objectively at things that have taken place, and not loading an event with the kind of baggage that's going to weigh you down emotionally. What was three and four?

Dr. Neil Nedley: The way we think about problems. When you have a practical problem, for instance, your car breaks down, and you're in the, you know, you're in the middle of having to get to work on time, and it's very crucial for you to get to work on time. That's a practical problem. But if you have an emotional reaction to that problem, of such where you're so angry and upset that you can't even wisely help direct people to get your car off of the road and to the side, and you're so emotionally upset that you can't think properly to how it's going to get fixed, that's going to be a major issue. And so, often people, when they have a problem, they actually introduce another problem that is often worse, and that is their emotional reaction to it. And when they realize, hey, that practical problem is going to be there whether I'm miserable about it or not, so why not just give up my misery over it? And then they can actually think far better, actually be far more better relationship partners, and they can actually get to the root of the problem often and correct it far better.

John Bradshaw: Point four?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Point four is our silent self-talk. Those are the moment-by-moment messages we give ourself.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And here's the issue in regards to that. Our feelings, actually, what we think has more to do with our emotions than what is happening in our life. And what a lot of people don't realize is research has documented that negative thoughts, which cause emotional turmoil, nearly always contain gross distortions. On the surface it appears valid, but often when we have these very negative emotions, we have some irrational beliefs, our thinking often is twisted or just plain wrong, and, actually, twisted thinking is a major cause of suffering.

John Bradshaw: This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, joined today by Dr. Neil Nedley. Dr. Nedley, we're talking about emotional intelligence, how to manage your emotions rather than being governed by your emotions.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: We've talked about some fascinating things. In just a second I want you to tell me how to think straight.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Okay.

John Bradshaw: But give me an example of somebody who was confronted with a negative situation, rather than caving into the situation and just bottoming out, they approached it in a positive light with good consequences.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Well, a good ancient example is actually Paul and Silas. You know, they were taken against their will; they were, they had done nothing wrong deserving of this. They were beaten 39 times with a cat-o'-nine-tails, and then they were put on an irregular dirt floor, not a nice even floor, their feet were put up in stocks.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that's a bad scene.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And you would think that they would be crying uncontrollably in prison and saying, "Why us, Lord"?

John Bradshaw: And in fact, they had gone, this was in Philippi, and they had gone there, I think it's Acts, chapter 16, they'd gone there to do God's work.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: They followed God's leading to this city to do this great work for God, and all they get for it is this.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: And how would you react?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yeah.

John Bradshaw: You know?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Instead, they had happy looks on their faces, and they were singing praises to God. And what that demonstrates is that our thoughts have much more to do about how we're feeling than what is actually happening in our life. So what was happening in their life, they should be feeling terrible. But their thoughts were not pop psychology thoughts. Pop psychology might say, imagine you're on a beach in Hawaii. That would have worked for no more than 1.2 seconds.

John Bradshaw: That's right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: But they were thinking true and accurate thoughts. And those true and accurate thoughts were so powerful that, even under the most torture-some conditions, they could have a happy look on their face, and they could sing praises to God. That's how powerful the thoughts are.

John Bradshaw: Isn't it true, I've done this in group sittings, isn't it true that you can choose to feel miserable, and very quickly you're miserable?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's right.

John Bradshaw: If you focus in on something and you think of something negative, very quickly, at the same time, you can choose to think positive thoughts, and I mean productive, not airy-fairy stuff.

Dr. Neil Nedley: No, that's right. They have to be accurate thoughts, but they can be on the positive side. And what we have a tendency to do is think of only one side of the equation and not balance it out with the whole better worldview that would help our emotions.

John Bradshaw: There's a lot of "Poor me, I didn't deserve this; Life is so unfair". And that doesn't tend to make positive, productive, healthy people.

Dr. Neil Nedley: No. And what we need to realize is, if we live in this world, we are going to be treated unfairly.

John Bradshaw: That's true.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Sometimes very significantly. I mean, this is a world of sin. To me, I get excited when I actually am treated fairly, because I expect that in this world of sin we're just going to be treated unfairly at times. But how we deal with the fact that we are being treated unfairly has a lot to do with our emotional intelligence.

John Bradshaw: So how do we learn to think straight, to think right, to think healthily? Because this here is going to, this is life-changing stuff!

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Walk us through some of these ways that we can think straight. That's my terminology.

Dr. Neil Nedley: The first thing we need to do is to analyze our thoughts. So we're not going to be able to think straight unless we are able to actually analyze the thoughts that we have.

John Bradshaw: That sounds like something only someone with a PhD could do.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Sometimes the people that have the most difficulty, I've noticed, are really into the National Football League. So I'll give them an example that they can understand.

John Bradshaw: All right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: I'll say, listen to the John Madden in your thoughts. You know how there's a big, you know, event that occurs, you know, the big play. And John Madden goes, and then he explains and slows it down and says, "Okay, now this happened because of this, and this happened because of that," and so it's all laid out.

John Bradshaw: All right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: So when things happen, listen to the John Madden in your thoughts and analyze what happened.

John Bradshaw: What really happened.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Secondly, you have to look for distortions in your thoughts.

John Bradshaw: What is a distortion in your thoughts?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Turns out there's ten different ways of distorted thinking. And so all-or-nothing thinking, for instance...

John Bradshaw: What's that?

Dr. Neil Nedley: ...most of the time it's distorted. An example of that would be a patient that I had that came to me who was a successful businessperson, but he ran for Congress, and he lost the race. And he comes to me and he says, "Dr. Nedley, I lost the race for Congress. I am a big zero". That's all-or-nothing thinking. Just because you lose a race doesn't mean you're a big zero. Just because you get a divorce doesn't mean you're a big zero. Just because you flunked a test doesn't mean you're a big zero. But that's where all-or-nothing thinking leads to.

John Bradshaw: Mmm, okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And it can happen the other way around as well, where just because I hit a home run, that my team won the World Series, I'm the most valuable player and there's nobody better than me. That's actually a setup for an emotional disaster as well. And so both of them are actually distorted thoughts that are gonna lead to problems.

John Bradshaw: Okay.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And then there's other things, like a mental filter. You know, an example of this is someone who came to one of our programs recently. He says, "You know, my life is just, it's just terrible". And I said, "Well, explain". He says, "You know, my wife nags, I've got bills piling up, my boss yells at me almost constantly. And furthermore, I'm going bald, and I'm short and fat," and, you know, that was his side of the equation. As we continued the conversation, I realized he had a wife who was very attractive, he actually had kids that he had a good relationship with, he actually enjoyed his church, he had good friends, and even though he was short and fat, he could still walk and feed himself.

John Bradshaw: So how did he get this thing so far out of whack, and what could he do to adjust this? This just takes looking at this with new eyes, right?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's right. When you have a mental filter, you have to be intentional and forceful for looking for evidence that supports a different way of thinking.

John Bradshaw: Glass half full, glass half empty?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's right.

John Bradshaw: You can learn to look on the positive side.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Yes.

John Bradshaw: Wow.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And sometimes it does take time. It has to be intentional and forceful. You know, Joseph suffered from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. He could smell the smells of the pit; he could hear the exact voices; he knew what those brothers did. When he was faced with them, of having all of that poor emotional reaction, he refused to have a mental filter, and he was intentional and forceful for searching for a different way of thinking about his brothers. And it took him time, but he found that different way of thinking about his brothers, and that's when he revealed himself, and that great family moment occurred.

John Bradshaw: What are some other ways to learn to think?

Dr. Neil Nedley: Over-generalization would be another one.

John Bradshaw: They're all alike. They all treat me bad. Is that an over-generalization?

Dr. Neil Nedley: That's an over-generalization. My roommate in college, I remember he had his eye on a girl for about six months before he mustered up enough courage to ask her out. And when he comes back, and she turned him down, you know, he's ready to cry, and he says, "Neil, I'm destined to be lonely and miserable the rest of my life".

John Bradshaw: All right.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And he over-generalized two ways. One way is because she turned him down once; he knew she was always going to turn him down. Did he really know that to be true? No. Secondly, 100% of eligible women had identical taste to hers, and thus he would be endlessly rejected.

John Bradshaw: Uh-huh.

Dr. Neil Nedley: And so people with that cognitive distortion have a fear of rejection, fear of trying new things. And it's actually the cognitive distortion that can affect even great people.

John Bradshaw: Yeah, that is a distortion, isn't it?

Dr. Neil Nedley: When we have the ability to generalize, which is high IQ, we have a tendency to over-generalize. And over-generalization is going to cause emotional problems.

John Bradshaw: In Philippians chapter 2, verse 5, the Bible says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus". Verse 13: "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure". So is the key here being connected to God and remaining connected to God?

Dr. Neil Nedley: The Bible says, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind". That means correcting the distorted thoughts. And David said to God, "Search me," "try me," "know my thoughts"! What he was saying is, see if there's any distorted way. I want to know about it. I may not see the distortions, but see if You can point out the distorted ways, so that I can be led to life everlasting. And so it's not just knowing the truth as far as doctrinal teaching. The psalmist also said, well, who's going to dwell in Thy tabernacle, Thy holy hill? Those that walk uprightly and state the truth to themselves. Not just telling others the truth, but telling themselves the truth. That is really those that will be ultimately successful.

John Bradshaw: The wonderful thing is, we can, we can take responsibility, implement some theoretically simple steps and practices. We can have new minds.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Exactly.

John Bradshaw: Think new thoughts, and it can certainly be done as we allow Christ into our mind. We can start thinking His way and be healthy emotionally.

Dr. Neil Nedley: "Bringing every thought" to "the captivity...of Christ".

John Bradshaw: Amen. Dr. Nedley, thanks.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Thank you.

John Bradshaw: What a blessing to know that emotional intelligence is something you can possess, and when your mind is renewed, your relationship with God is going to be like it's never been before.

John Bradshaw: Dr. Nedley, we've covered some ground today, and I wish we could've covered a whole lot more. What a magnificent topic. Thank you very much for joining me today.

Dr. Neil Nedley: Thank you. It's been great being here.

John Bradshaw: I think we'll take the opportunity to pray now. Join us, would you, as we pray together.

Our Father in heaven, we can be transformed by the renewing of our mind. By Your grace we can bring "into captivity" every thought "to the obedience of Christ". And I ask You that You would take possession of us to such an extent that our minds would be one, the mind of the believer and the mind of the great God of the universe. So, Sovereign Lord, I pray, give us a new mind, let us think Your way, transform us emotionally, and grow us that we can be one with You now and for all eternity. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.


Thank you so much for joining me today. I'm looking forward to seeing you again next time. Until then, please remember: "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"
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