Emotional intelligence – my definition: the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others with empathy and respect – is a gift from God given to each soul. But, like any skill we must practice, practice, practice to master leading with heart, rather than being led by a judgmental and fearful mind.
Our thoughts create our behavior. Our behavior creates our life. Therefore, mastering a mind with a mind of its own is a responsible thought by thought focus. When we remain in touch with what we are thinking and why (the emotional motivation behind our thoughts – fear, anxiety, judgment, frustration, blame, control, arrogance, domination) we can change negative, limited thinking to positive and loving so we honor God for giving us the precious gift of emotional intelligence.
In order to benefit from the emotional intelligence God asks us to use to do no harm and to create our best life, it is necessary to educate ourselves to know what is happening in the world. We cannot be insulated with our own thoughts and beliefs. We cannot rely on the group think that is generated by the thoughts and beliefs of our immediate circle of like-minded friends and family or churches. Simply because others believe as we do does not mean we are right or that our decision and actions will not harm ourselves or others.
To make good decisions we must have information that challenges our thoughts so we can discover thoughts and beliefs that do not truly align with OUR HEART! Challenging what we think and why we think it helps keep our heart open so we follow the divine’s direction of treating others as we want to be treated.
I sobbed in a homeless man’s arms. I did not know him. Most likely I will not see him again, but I will never forget the moment our hearts touched in the intimate dance of raw truth: he lives on the street and I in a warm apartment. I wanted to take him with me.
It began when I commented on his dog. He smiled very proud and said, “Yea, she’s great. I’ve got her back and she’s got mine.”
As he spoke, gently petting the dog, I reached into my wallet and took out all the money I had. Without counting, looking, or caring what he would do with it I handed it to him. He hesitantly took it. As our hands touched my tears began. The young man reached out, wrapped me tight in his arms and said, “It’s okay. We’re okay out here. Thank you for caring.”
As I turned to leave he said, “I love you.” I looked him in the eyes and said, “I love you too.”
Until that moment I’d never said, “I love you,” to a complete stranger. To someone with whom I’d only met and exchanged a few brief moments. Yet, when I spontaneously responded to the man with “I love you,” I meant it from the bottom of my heart and with every cell of my being. There was no thought. My heart was simply wide open and spilling out came the pure, honest emotion of caring deeply for him.
Each of us experiences transformational moments in life. Times when an opportunity presents itself to grow our spiritual nature by leaps and bounds. This was one of my moments, and I took it. I saw him and his dog and could have passed them by. But something deep within my soul said, See him and tell him he is seen!
Making the choice to listen to my soul opened me to a lesson I could only learn with a willingness to experience the sincerity of our exchange. Holding him and allowing him to hold me birthed a deep and clear understanding of what it means to be vulnerable to loving without expectations or conditions. The kind of love we all want. The depth of intimacy we all long for. The magnificent feeling of being connected to the divine in another human being.
My homeless man was an angel. A messenger of wisdom who taught me love is more than affection for those closest to us. Love does not judge or fear. Love cares and shares. To love is to feel ourselves in others. To love is to move through life in loving ways. With sensitivity and kindness. With patience, compassionate and respect. To treat others as we want to be treated.
Each time we treat others as we want to be treated we are an ambassador of love. Being love in action is when we become one with God, if even for a brief moment. In loving we learn it is possible to feel God as real. And, our desire to experience more moments of oneness with love, grows.
“Treat others as we want to be treated,” is the fundamental guiding principle of love. And, when practiced in daily life you and I change everything on earth for the better from the relationships we have with our family, children, spouse, friends, bosses, neighbors, and the homeless, to how we respect and care for the natural world and all life on our beautiful planet.
No matter our religion, or lack thereof, what is most important to creating our best life and most fulfilling relationships is to lead with our heart and treat others as we want to be treated. Doing so is how we love God.
You and I are soul – living representatives of God’s kindness, wisdom, respect and empathy.
As spiritual beings on great human adventures we are charged by our creator with being ambassadors of love to help establish a positive world for ourselves, our children, and their children’s children. To accomplish our soul mission the Divine gave us simple direction – treat others as you want to be treated – which is the same fundamental spiritual assignment for ALL world religions.
Raised in a Christian home I strive to treat others as I want to be treated. However, I am only in control of my actions, thoughts, words, and principles. I cannot wave a magic wand and gain influence over anyone’s behavior or beliefs. The power I have, is to share my soul observations on what it means to treat others as we want to be treated. I do so now with the intent of inspiring respect, empathy and personal accountability to the Divine for our individual actions, motivations and beliefs.
The United States is home to people of all religious faiths. However, we seem to view ourselves as a Christian nation. Therefore, I ask, would Jesus condone the division, hate, fear, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, lying, injustice, violence, attempting to control the rights of others, the blatant dismissal of quantifiable facts, suppression and vilification of media, greed, and the unjust abuse of power we are currently undergoing? Not when Christians are asked to “Love your neighbor as yourself!” This does not only apply when our neighbor looks like us, believes like us, and marries who we think they must.
Let’s fast forward two thousand years as the time has come to begin a new soul motivated conversation about what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus NEVER talked about homosexuality or abortion. Jesus did not say the way to make ourselves right in God’s eyes is by persecuting others. He did not condone a “holier than thou” egocentric attitude. He did not tolerate violence, bullying, hatred and oppression in God’s name. Jesus’ message was one of love. Therefore, we do not have a right to distort the loving, inclusive, peaceful messages of Jesus to justify inciting fear, hate and division over racial and religious difference. And, we cannot in God’s name support anyone with any title or in any position who does!
Religious superiority and arrogance was never condoned by a loving God who gave kind, wise and respectful soul equally to all human beings. Therefore, continued religious intolerance and persecution is not of soul but human ego and has no place within modern society no matter what is used to support this divisive position.
I believe an important personal judgment day has arrived as each of us must honestly question if we are living the peaceful messages of respect and empathy Jesus espoused. Or are we ignoring our actions, our relationship to God in favor of pointing the finger of blame outward to persecute those who are not found worthy under a judgmental set of beliefs? Are we using thousands of year old text, written in a time when women had no power, and when the investigative powers of science (to revel truth about us and the world) was non-existent, to justify non-loving actions?
God is always watching our heart. Therefore, it is with deep respect and empathy I ask all human beings who truly value the honorable character Jesus lived to begin a new conversation about what it means to truly follow Jesus. To be people Jesus would be proud to call friend, we must not allow ourselves to be seduced by the dark side of power, control, greed and domination over others that religious and political persecution inspires.
As true followers of Jesus our first and foremost devotion is to remain aligned with “Treat others as YOU want to be treated.” This simple direction does not mean waiting for others to go first. We must go first and lead with a heart filled with Jesus’ love. This must be our individual and collective focus because no matter what personal religious agenda we attempt to justify, as soul, we cannot under any circumstances excuse the persecution of others in the name of Jesus.
I have many devout Christians within my family and among my close friends. I respect their beliefs. They are good people who strive to live as Jesus did – treating others as they want to be treated. What I treasure most about these beautiful people is their hearts are filled with empathy, respect, personal responsibility and non-judgment.
They do not shove their religious beliefs down the throats of others. They do not judge those who do not believe as they do. They are not hypocrites. They do not ridicule, bully, mock or vilify anyone who disagrees with them. They do not make others wrong for not believing as they do. They do not seek to limit the rights of other people. They live their values while also respecting each human being’s right to create the best life possible in their own way and by following their own chosen beliefs.
I appreciate the way my Christian friends behave as a reflection of Jesus. They leave the judgment, persecution and ridicule out of their spiritual practice. This is very important to me. As a gay woman who was raised under strict fundamental Christian dogma I had a very difficult life. I was surrounded by those who did not extend empathy and respect to me for being “different.” It was made clear I had to change to be what they considered “normal,” to fit in, to marry, and have children so I would be welcome among them, to be worthy of God’s love and theirs. It was hard being persecuted, ridiculed, and told I was not good enough for God or for them. I just knew in my soul I was different even as a little child of four. Sure, there was a brief period in my early teens when I succumbed to pressure and tried to change. I was miserable and soon learned, in order to adopt the identity others were forcing on me, would mean I’d have to go against the biology of how I was born “different.”
Today I do not identify myself with any religion, yet my life is devoted to God. I strive to treat others as I want to be treated. To love as Jesus did. But I do so without the label Christian.
While I support and honor the many Christians in my life, I also support my family and friends who have chosen a different path to God and who do so by respectfully and peacefully living their faith. I believe God appreciates that we focus on ourselves, to ensure we walk as the Divine asks: to lift others up rather than tear them down, to love and allow ourselves to be loved, to respect as we desire to be respected, and to find ways to support others rather than judge them.
The choices I make determine the quality of life I create.
Over the course of life I will make choices that cause me to suffer. Through the process of making bad choices I can choose to learn to make better choices. With willingness and observation I can learn from the negative choices others make. But to learn how to make good choices that result in joy, peace, and freedom from suffering or harming myself and others, I must make my own choices just as other people must make their own choices.
I cannot make anyone’s choices for them. Out of empathy and respect I can certainly desire for others that they choose not to make the same negative choices I made. I can let my actions and words serve as a loving and non-judgmental example of what I learned from negative and hurtful choices. BUT, no matter what I believe, I do not have the right to dictate the choices others must make.
If I attempt to order, legislate, force, or limit other people’s power of choice over their bodies or who they love, I have moved from respect and empathy (heart/soul/Divine motivated action) into disrespect and control (ego action). Ego (personal importance, self-centeredness, judgment) is powerful and uses everything within its means to justify entitlement to limit the choices of others or rationalize forcing them to believe as ego does. However, if I am to treat others as I want to be treated, then I cannot dictate the choices others must make, no matter my ego-motivated justifications.
To treat others as I want to be treated (heart/soul/Divine motivated action), I choose to allow the choices others make about their body and whom they love to remain between them and God. Just as to love me as Jesus does it is with respect and empathy that the choices I make about my body and whom I love remain between me and the Divine also.
My most beloved friend is an atheist. He does not believe in God. He is highly educated and thinks deeply about things. He does not make snap judgments or come to emotionally charged conclusions. He carefully weighs subject matter with great attention to detail. I admire him for thinking deeply so he is truly comfortable with his beliefs, to the point he does not try to get others to believe as he does.
In fact his calm and peaceful conviction for what is true for him caused me to appreciate him on an even deeper level because our discussions about God challenged me to question why I do believe in God. Without being challenged to think outside the box of the rote answers programmed into me by my religious upbringing, I would not have come to accept the Divine as I do today. And, just because my friend does not believe in the Divine does not stop me from loving him.
I appreciate differing points of view. When taken as an opportunity to grow and expand ourselves they always prove very beneficial. The challenge we face in learning from differing with one another is keeping our ego in check. To benefit from differing we must stop ourselves from automatically ego-defending what we think we believe as truth must be truth for everyone. As ambassadors of love we choose to remain open to thinking deeply about what we believe so we peacefully and calmly stand firm, while not attempting to convince others they too must believe as we do. I believe to believe, or not, is the free will aspect God put into each of our hearts.
You and I are souls – spiritual beings on great human adventures. And, through much trial and error I came to appreciate we create our best life by living from the soul part of ourselves.
I know soul to be the part of our being where the original creative consciousness put a spark of itself into our human form. That Divine part of us, soul, is where the values of #LOVE (peace, kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty, intuition, wisdom, etc.) reside. In addition to soul, we are also a human being with a personality and ego – sense of self.
A healthy ego (soul in the lead) allows us to see ourselves in others, to consider the needs, thoughts and desires of others. With a healthy sense of self we can see the big picture and how all life is connected. A healthy ego welcomes constructive criticism and accepts responsibility for our thoughts, words and the consequences of our actions. A healthy ego desires to learn from the experience and observations of others, our history, and from our negative choices. A healthy, balanced sense of self depends on the moral and ethical integrity of soul to guide our thoughts, words, actions, evaluations and decisions.
Unhealthy ego (wounded, victim, arrogant, bully, controlling, blaming, vindictive, self-centered sense of self) discounts the ethical and moral soul part of ourselves, and others. An unhealthy ego is focused on satisfying its unending lust for power, wealth, praise, and control, and will vilify and blame anyone who gets in its way. Ego will justify any behavior to get what ego wants when and how ego wants it. Including being dishonest with ourselves about ourselves and being dishonest with ourselves about others. Self-centered ego has no problem lying about anything to anyone and is very skilled at getting others to believe the lies it tells. Therefore, I learned one of the most important values to uphold, to stay aligned with soul – the spiritual part of us – is honesty (truthfulness, freedom from deceit or fraud.)
Honesty keeps us connected to soul, to the Divine, to the good, positive and caring part of us. Being honest is a cornerstone of a true spiritual connection to the Divine because honesty creates a clean, positive life where we have nothing to hide and no one to hide it from. The transparency of being honest is the foundation of all successful and mutually beneficial relationships because truthfulness produces trust, respect, and no hidden agendas.
Truthfulness will always be hugely important in creating our best life. BUT in today’s world, transparent integrity is even more vital to our happiness and peace because some people commanding our attention are blatantly lying without remorse, regret or ethical and moral misgivings. There are people in positions of “perceived” power who are spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and trash talk with absolute disregard for facts, research and the investigative endeavors of others. This dishonest egocentric lying creates a lack of respect for the reliable information necessary to keep us informed. And, of equal importance, anyone who does not care about honesty, or telling, knowing or acknowledging the truth, is operating without ethical and moral supervision over themselves, their actions, their thoughts and their life. Without a moral compass they cannot make the best decisions for themselves or anyone else.
No relationship, whether between partners, friends, neighbors, countries, political leaders and their citizens, or world-leaders will be peaceful, respectful, and beneficial unless there is a priority placed on honest and impeccable values. Only when heart is involved do we stop to care how our actions, our words, our agenda will impact others. Only with soul can we have the courage to treat others as we want to be treated. Only with soul can we truly know an untruth when we hear it. And, only with soul’s wisdom are we capable of seeing the big picture to view the challenges we face from a different perspective and bring a higher level of awareness to solve what egocentric blindness cannot.
God gave each of us a soul so we can care for one another. God gave us a soul so we can think before we act. God also gave each of us the power of choice to be ruled by a wounded ego sense of self; to discount and deny our soul’s wisdom in order to justify our actions and the actions of those in positions of “perceived” power. OR, we can choose to lead with the higher, wiser, loving part of ourselves to be truly powerful over our selfish egocentric side.
One way you and I choose to lead with the best of ourselves – soul (our LOVE connection to the Divine) – is through valuing honesty, in ourselves and others.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, says, “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.” How beautifully humble and empowering. An uncomplicated goal; to be love in action. But this is not the religion I was taught.
I was brought up in a fundamentalist Christian church in Texas. I was taught God is angry, vengeful and male. It was under a strict religious system I was continuously threatened with hell, unless I fit in by automatically accepting what I was taught to believe. By living according to their specific views I would go to heaven when I die. If I behaved in ways deemed contrary to those beliefs, I would go to hell.
Even as a young girl, I found attempting to accept such limited, disparaging ideas of religion and God caused me such anxiety, I lived in constant fear and confusion. How can such a fearful and negative experience ever have been God’s intent for our religions? Logically that makes no sense, merely because of how horrible judgment, blame and abuse of others in God’s name feels to our heart. And, how can God only be male when all life is birthed from female? Also, why would a loving God dictate we must all believe this, don’t believe that, even when those beliefs are contrary to our Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim friends? The answer I received was they were going to hell.
That is when I evaluated my religious experience as one of people desiring to neatly put the Divine into a box of their limited understanding. They wanted to control God and each other because once God was in the box they created, they felt entitled and righteously justified to force others to adopt the same beliefs they held or persecute them as non-believers. But, in my heart God, the loving original cosmic source, Divine parent and creator of all things is, LOVE – caring and affection always displayed as KIND action: peace, support, forgiveness, patience, honesty, forethought, responsibility, empathy, attentiveness, compassion, presence, respect, courtesy, and logical evaluation.
The infinite expansiveness of God cannot be boxed into one form or religion. Yet, today we continue to witness world-wide conflict because of the belief our religion is the one sanctioned by the Divine. We keep God in the box of a narrow perception. We justify ourselves as entitled to make one another wrong and ourselves right based on ancient religious text. We rationalize this practice as caring or having concern for one another’s salvation. And, to make certain we and others fall in line, we perpetuate the fear that to question what we are taught is blasphemous. This thinking is ego-driven, not love based. You and I were born from the miracle of Divine love. We are souls, spiritual beings on great human adventures charged with ending conflict over God and religion. We are charged with bravely turning our focus from religions that divide to live as the Divine wants us to. To treat one another as God always wanted us to, following the only religion ever needed – that of kindness. Namaste (the divine in me honors the divine in you)
I found a wallet yesterday laying on the sidewalk under a piece of newspaper. While walking Ruby I have a habit of picking up paper and trash. I figure making the neighborhood cleaner while walking my dog is sort of multi-tasking.
When I got home I looked through the wallet trying to find a phone number to call but could not find any contact information other than a P.O. Box on his driver’s license. So I called the bank of one of his credit cards hoping they would have a contact number and they would call him.
The woman told me she did not have that information so we agreed I’d take the wallet to a bank branch in my neighborhood today. I have an account at the same bank so the branch manager knows me. I took the wallet to her and told her the story. She looked in her system and called the man.
He was so excited someone had not only found the wallet but also turned it in. It is important to me to do the right thing. I’ve learned being honest and treating others as I want to be treated is a great way to live. Just because I work hard to lead with my heart does not mean I always get treated kindly or respectfully by others in return. But, as mom taught me – being an ambassador of love always leaves me feeling good about me.
I’ve never studied with a guru, master, or spiritual teacher. My early experience with organized religion turned me off the path of following the beliefs of others to forge my own trail. So, my heart-teachers have been real life people who manage to stay loving, peaceful and who find the positive in even the worst situations. One of my most profound teachers was a young woman of 17. When she was raped by a man she considered a safe friend, her response was “what do I have to learn from this horrible experience.”
As you can imagine I was shocked. At first, I did not comprehend how she could not be angry and want revenge? But then I realized she was making an intentional choice to take a terrible situation, one she was powerless to stop or change, and turned it around to find what SHE could do to move herself forward. That level of courage and self-reflection pushed my soul forward to fill my consciousness with a deep level of love and personal responsibility. I knew her strength was directly from God. I chose then and there, if this young woman could find the silver lining in her experience, there is no reason I cannot live the same way. I accepted the only thing standing between our living this way, or not, is a choice. That was the powerful realization that changed my entire perspective and solidified my knowing we are indeed spiritual beings (souls) on great human adventures.
Over thirty years later I am still passionately devoted to finding the light, even in the darkest situations. I am happy to report choosing a positive attitude has served me well; through Barbara’s cancer, the murder of a friend, death of loved ones, living in a world where acts of violence impact innocent people, job loss, relationship break-ups, losing almost everything, and so much more. Yes, I’ve certainly had my share of heart-break and loss. But I credit my ability to bounce back quickly and to remain focused on positive to the angels in my life. Those who taught me I always have the choice to see my glass as overflowing, even when the tap looks like it may run dry.