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Emotional Intelligence as a "Clue" on our Healing Journey

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

by Doug Robinette

For a long time, I’ve thought of my healing journey as a “treasure hunt”. The treasure is the healing encounter with Christ – that moment when He touches my brokenness with that amazing love and understanding and healing that only He can bring. The hunt is the search for the broken place, the wound that has yet to be healed. Unlike the treasure hunts in the movies, there isn’t a specific treasure map that we can follow, but there are “clues” – things like dysfunctional behaviors, emotional upheaval, lies and false beliefs – that can lead us to the wounds that so desperately need His healing touch.

There are many ways for us to find clues. One of the ways I’ve found very useful is emotional intelligence (EQ). Since we were made for relationships with one another, it stands to reason that our brokenness – those wounds that we all bring into the relationships, will often show up in relationship. To see how that works, let’s first do a quick refresher on EQ.

The concept dates back to the 1960s, but Daniel Goleman’s book in 1995 made this idea popular. Here is a definition of EQ from the Institute for Health and Human Potential: “The ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the ability to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others”.

Early in my coaching career, I was exposed to an EQ assessment tool. I was so impressed with the tool, I got certified as a practitioner. The tool measures:


  • Our access to a range of feelings

  • Positive versus negative orientation

  • Self versus other orientation

  • Our ability to be balanced in relying on thoughts, wants, and feelings as we interact and make choices

  • Empathy and empathy accuracy

  • Our self-management relationship strategies

OK – that’s a lot! Let’s just focus on one of those elements – self versus other orientation. A person who is self-oriented believes that the “locus of power lies within self”. Often, this means that the person learned – through experiences early in life, that how they behaved mattered very much to how well relationships in the household went. Said another way, being a “good boy” or “good girl” made the household experience more positive. I learned through the assessment, that I am pretty “self-oriented” and as I pondered that, and recalled my childhood, the idea that things went well when I was a “good boy” really resonated with me. More importantly, folks like me tend to display certain outworkings of this belief – that what I do can make things go well, or not so well.

Here are some of those potential consequences:

  • A tendency to take on a lot of responsibility – sometimes excessively so

  • A tendency to struggle with boundaries – to take on too much

  • Taking on too much responsibility for relationships, especially the most important ones

  • May become easily wounded in relationships

  • May personalize things that have nothing to do with me

  • May look first to see what I did wrong when things don’t go well

  • A tendency to have high access to feelings of shame

Because I now have greater awareness of these consequences, I am more likely to notice when my self-orientation has been triggered. That noticing opens the door for me to ask myself questions such as “is this really my responsibility?”, or to remind myself that sometimes things go wrong and no one has to be to blame. A more useful response is to ask what is the path forward?

Here is the upshot of all this – few of us need to be EQ experts, but ALL of us can use information about our relationships to discover clues in our own treasure hunts. Relationships are a place where our brokenness will come out – in patterns of behavior and responses, in emotional upheaval, and in the triggering or reinforcement of lies and false beliefs. By noticing our behaviors and responses in situations where a relationship doesn’t go well, we can uncover those valuable clues, and begin to work our way down the structures of healing to the wound itself, and then take that to Jesus where He can minister to us, free us, heal us, and make us whole. You can begin by just noticing your responses when a relationship goes sideways, and asking some simple questions like:

  • Is this response a pattern for me?

  • What were my dominant feelings at that point in the interaction?

  • I felt ___________ because ______________

  • What did I believe about myself, about the other person, and about our relationship together at that moment?

Relationships are an important part of our lives – by design, and how we react when they aren’t going well can be a great source of information we can use in our quest to invite Jesus in to those most wounded, vulnerable parts of our lives so He can show us once again how much He adores us, and values us and wants the best for us.

Happy treasure hunting!


After spending over 30 years in the corporate world in various executive roles, Doug began a new career as an executive coach and consultant. He was introduced to Healing Care Ministries in 2008, and is now on a lifetime healing journey. He lives in Westerville with his wife of 43 years (Sally). They have 2 children and 3 grandchildren. He loves to travel with Sally, and spend time with the grandkids.

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