Publisher’s Note: Yesterday, I attended a class at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where my professor introduced the concept of Mensa, an organization I had never heard of before. My professor explained that Mensa comprises individuals belonging to the top 2% of high IQ scorers globally. According to Wikipedia, Mensa is recognized as “the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world” and is open to those scoring at or above the 98th percentile on a standardized, supervised IQ or approved intelligence test.
During this discussion, my mind was curious about the realm of Mensa’s societal impact. I pondered, “What is Mensa’s purpose? Are they actively contributing to the betterment of our world?” I also, I pondered the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and its role in societal betterment.
In a world beset with many challenges, it is my opinion that individuals with high emotional intelligence are more active in enriching lives and making substantial contributions to the improvement of our nation, state, and local communities. While most of us may never receive an invitation to join a Mensa meetup group—including myself (I can propmise you😎), I have added an article below with the thought that Mensa members and others may find insights into the realm of emotional intelligence.
My opinion isn’t meant to offend those 2%—but to get the 98% of us to think about how do we use our own intelligence to improve our own world.
Society has told us to find ourselves, take personality quizzes, and dig deep within to make sense of what makes little sense inside of us. But so often, we hear this bit but do nothing with it. We read the books and listen to podcasts but don’t take time to apply the information. It’s one thing to agree with information and say it all sounds good, but it’s another thing to take the next step to apply it to our lives. It takes a baby step to move in the right direction to find transformation in your life, yet so often it’s the hardest step to take.
I’m not saying go take every personality quiz out there and rediscover yourself. I’m saying there’s more than enough information for you already to take one baby step towards betterment in life, especially when you struggle to process your thoughts and emotions.
One reason we struggle in relationships and with ourselves is because of our inability to process emotions correctly and willingly. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but there are helpful guardrails to follow to increase emotional intelligence. The more emotionally intelligent we are, the easier it will be to walk through these struggles. The struggles don’t go away, but how we handle them becomes better each time. When we feel, think, or live a certain way (that we’d rather not), it’s important to look for those guardrails. But, one must recognize those thoughts, feelings, and personality habits, and then be willing to go through the discomfort of taking ownership and applying change.
By definition, guardrails are rails that prevent people from falling off or being hit by something. We might think of the guardrails in a bowling alley or the rails along roads that help distinguish where not to go; or, there are guardrails used along the stairs that help us keep balance going up and down. Like these physical guardrails, there are guardrails that prevent us from falling off or being hit by the emotions of life negatively. We can find most of these guardrails in the Bible as principles and notice them for ourselves when our emotions make us lose our balance.
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus introduces the Golden Rule. This rule helps us understand how to develop emotional intelligence by using it as a guardrail for our relationships and ourselves. It helps us take the next baby step to understand other people and ourselves more.
How to Develop Emotional Intelligence using the Golden Rule
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12.
Technically, Jesus didn’t coin this phrase first. There was an earlier Rabbi who quoted the “negative version” of this rule. Rabbi Hillel said, “don’t treat others the way you would not like them to treat you.” This version is often referred to as the Silver Rule. It’s helpful to begin with, and I believe it is the first level of emotional intelligence. (Disclaimer: I’m not a certified scholar or psychologist. I’m not labeling this to be true for emotional intelligence as a whole, but in the context of what I’m sharing in the post. Let the reader understand).
The Silver Rule
The first step to becoming emotionally intelligent is, at least, understanding how you don’t like being treated and not treating others the same way. Nobody wants to be treated badly. Everyone wants to be treated with respect, love, and care. We all crave acceptance. We desire happiness and peace. So, the least we can do is stop treating others the way we don’t want to be treated. The Silver Rule is a guardrail that tells us what to avoid doing, saying, and thinking in our relationships and in how we treat ourselves. It’s the first guardrail that helps us balance our emotions. If I don’t like being treated a certain way, I most certainly shouldn’t treat others that way.
Often, this looks like holding our tongues when we want to let someone have it. If we don’t want people to talk badly about us, we must stop talking badly about people. When we judge someone for whatever reason, we must stop and consider ourselves in that judgment and what we don’t want said about us. To go deeper, if we don’t want people talking down to us, assuming the worst of our intentions, or suspecting our motives to be evil, we must not do that to others. And so on.
Don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated.
The Golden Rule
Once the Silver Rule becomes a habitual practice in your mind and soul, the next step with emotional intelligence is applying the Golden Rule, another guardrail for our emotions and thoughts. The “positive version” that Jesus did coin. Now that you know how you don’t want to be treated, consider how you do want to be treated. Take it up a notch and answer why you prefer people treat you like this? This isn’t just a focus on what you want, but also what you need.
For example, I often want people to join my pity-party and wallow with me when I’m struggling. But what I need is for someone to tell me to do what’s practical (eat something healthy, go exercise, take a shower, etc.). Because this is how I truly want (and need) to be treated, I now often help people stuck in pity-parties by giving practical advice that legitimately works for me, too.
To apply the Golden Rule, consider the following. If you want to be understood or heard, seek to understand and be quick to listen, slow to speak. When you want to be complimented, praised, and noticed, do the same for others. If you want others to think well of you, think well of others. And so forth. If everyone genuinely followed the Silver and Golden Rule, the world would be a much more peaceful and less stressful place. We would be able to consider ourselves and others while processing our emotions mindfully. We should not follow these rules out of contempt, hidden motives, spite, and selfish gain. But if we want to grow and develop our emotional intelligence, we can start with these two rules.
Don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
The Platinum Rule
The third level of developing your emotional intelligence is the Platinum Rule. Treat others the way they want to be treated. This isn’t to be confused with people-pleasing, over-stepping our boundaries, and becoming a doormat for people to walk on. Think of this rule as something that starts internally and moves externally. The more you understand yourself and work through the discomfort of negative emotions, processing them in a healthy way, the easier it will be to treat others how they want to be treated. Your understanding and willingness to work through emotions with yourself allows you to become gracious, loving, and understanding of others, even when they don’t deserve it.
Our “negative” emotions aren’t necessarily bad. They help us distinguish right from wrong and discern situations for what they really are. But when we experience negative emotions repeatedly and then habitually, there’s no room left for the good emotions. Soon, there’s a filter of trauma, stress, doubt, skepticism, and hopelessness that hinders our ability to see situations clearly. There needs to be a balance of processing both negative and positive emotions because, like I said earlier, the struggles won’t go away. If we let negative emotions overtake us and cause us to act out of character, then we’ll get into the habit of going by our feelings. Our thoughts shouldn’t be driven by our feelings; our thoughts should lead and control our feelings (2 Corinthians 10:5, Romans 12:2, Proverbs 16:23).
When we understand how we want and don’t want to be treated, when we take baby steps to process our emotions correctly, and when we grow in understanding of ourselves and others, we develop emotional intelligence and mature.
The Platinum rule looks like this in action: if you notice your coworker appreciates and performs better when they get praised and recognized for their work, make it a point to show your appreciation to that person when you have the chance. Another example is taking note of how your spouse prefers to decompress after work, the date nights they enjoy, or what gets them excited to get out of bed in the morning, and helping them achieve these practices in their life and your relationship. Yet another example is being aware of what others truly need in the moment.
Treat others the way they want to be treated.
Even though Jesus quotes the Golden Rule in Matthew seven, He followed all three rules throughout the Gospels. Here are just a few examples:
- With the Silver Rule, He flipped tables and drove out the buyers and sellers in the temple courts. He quoted scripture, saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 12-13). He did not want others to treat Him or His temple this way.
- With the Golden Rule, He loved others by showing kindness, compassion, and mercy. He was welcoming and inclusive to the crowds and disciples who welcomed and included Him in return.
- With the Platinum Rule, He healed the sick, cast out demons, included the sinners, corrected and called out leaders, and ultimately sacrificed His life for us.
Even today, He treats us the way we want to be treated. He loves, cares, and accepts us as we are. But He doesn’t leave us in that place. He calls us into a deeper relationship with Him, where we can find true transformation in every area of our lives. He helps us change for the better, to grow in love and understanding, and to live free from sin. By the Holy Spirit, He helps us develop emotional maturity through wisdom and the washing of the water of His Word, where we get rooted and grounded in our identity in Him.
May we pursue the knowledge of Jesus and understand our identities in Him as we follow the Silver, Golden, and Platinum rules to love others and ourselves better.
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Your feedback on this article is welcome. Please email me at MikeSparksTn@gmail.com