So much has been said about the importance of developing our IQ, our rational intelligence, and more recently about EQ, our emotional intelligence. We now understand that our emotional intelligence is as important, if not more important, than our IQ in determining our future success in life. But how about spiritual intelligence?
Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) is the intelligence with which we address and solve problems of meaning and value. “It provides a context for our actions, as well as the way we assess whether one course of action or one life-path is more meaningful than another. SQ is the necessary foundation for the effective functioning of both IQ and EQ. It is our ultimate intelligence.” [Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall in SQ Book, Connecting with our Spiritual Intelligence].
In Daniel Goleman‘s groundbreaking book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, he explains, “we have two brains, two minds – and two different kinds of intelligence: rational and emotional.” We would argue, along with Howard Gardner that there are multiple intelligences and that our spiritual intelligence is vital to our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in life.
Thinking is not an entirely cerebral process, not just a matter of IQ. Zohar and Marshall explain, “We think not only with our heads, but also with our emotions and our bodies (EQ) and with our spirits, our visions, our hopes, our sense of meaning and value (SQ). SQ operates out of the brain’s center, from the neurological unifying function, it integrates all of our intelligences, and makes us the fully intellectual, emotional and spiritual creatures we are.”
Our spiritual intelligence allows us to be creative, and to think ‘outside the box’. It gives us the ability to change the rules, and to alter situations. It allows us to deal with ambiguity and gives us a capacity for paradox. Importantly, SQ enables us to choose the ‘right thing to do’, whether it’s the right thing for ourselves, or for a group, or situation. We have the ability to weigh many factors in deciphering a decision. We use our spiritual intelligence to wrestle with problems of good and evil, problems of life and death.
Spiritual intelligence enables us to think about the whole and make decisions about what’s best for the group or collective, and not just ourselves. Our SQ is the awareness of others beyond self, and an awareness of the impact of our actions and words on others. Our spiritual awareness teaches us that we are part of something larger, that we are interconnected with others and with the planet. All of our actions have an impact.
Cultivating our SQ is important in cultivating wisdom. Wisdom comes from an inner knowing, which comes from our many life lessons and what we’ve acquired through a lifetime of experience.
What are some of the indicators of a highly developed SQ? Zohar and Marshall cite the following:
o The capacity to be flexible
o A high degree of self-awareness
o A capacity to face and use suffering
o A capacity to face and transcend pain
o The quality of being inspired by vision and values
o A reluctance to cause unnecessary harm
o A tendency to see the connections between diverse things
o A tendency to ask Why or ‘What if’ questions and to seek fundamental answers
To have high SQ is to be able to use the spiritual to bring greater context and meaning to living a richer and more meaningful life, to achieve a sense of personal wholeness, purpose and direction.
How do we cultivate our spiritual intelligence? It begins with the development of spiritual awareness, which can often happen with a life crisis: a divorce, death in the family, major illness, or sudden loss of a job. These can jar us out of a routine or comfortable existence to exploring the deeper questions of life: Why did this happen? What can I learn from it? What is my purpose? How can I serve?
Yet our spiritual awareness can also come out of moments of joy, the birth of a child, and other times when we are struck by the awe of life. It can come by hearing an inner call, by feelings of deep connection to a spiritual community or loved one, or by finding work that deeply fulfills us. We all come to our spiritual awareness in different ways.
In many ways spiritual intelligence goes against the socialization in our culture. We are taught by our media and advertisers to look smart, know the answers, make quick decisions, take care of ‘Number 1’, buy products to make us happy, make money, rise the corporate ladder, etc. Yet the way we cultivate our spiritual intelligence is in many ways just the opposite: slow down, listen, think and take care of others as well as ourselves, focus on meaningful work, etc.
Collective SQ is low in modern society. Zohar and Marshall, “We live in a spiritually dumb culture characterized by materialism, expediency, narrow self-centeredness, lack of meaning and dearth of commitment. But as individuals we can act to raise our personal SQ – the further evolution of society depends upon enough individuals doing so.
They continue by saying, “SQ is the soul’s intelligence. It is the intelligence with which we heal ourselves and with which we make ourselves whole. SQ is the intelligence that rests in that deep part of the self that is connected to wisdom from beyond the ego, or conscious mind. It is not culture-dependent or value-dependent. It is our deep, intuitive sense of meaning and value, it is our guide at the edge, our conscience.”
So how do you develop your spiritual intelligence? If we observe the leaders in our society that we wish to emulate – those who demonstrate compassion, wisdom and vision – we find that they consciously work on developing their inner life and are committed to aligning their deepest values and actions. Here are some examples of practices we can embrace that will help develop our SQ:
1. Adopt or deepen a contemplative practice. Contemplative practices include centering prayer, meditation, , journaling, and spending time in nature. These practices help you to create an “observer mind” and to sense your connection to something greater than yourself.
2. Study with a spiritual or religious teacher, or someone who seems to have a high degree of spiritual intelligence. It helps to get guidance from someone who may be a bit further down the path than we are, and who can help us to take a more conscious and mindful approach to our life and work. It is especially useful to have a guide like this during difficult times of transition.
3. Read inspirational literature, Holy Quran, spiritual books and/or inspiring poetry, etc. There is an incredible amount of wisdom available in books these days, and it helps to read the words of inspired teachers who have made this journey before us. Often we find that when we have a particular dilemma or spiritual growth challenge that what we read in spiritual literature has direct application to the situation we are facing.
4. Become involved in a community or fellowship of other spiritual seekers. Most of us begin our spiritual development as a quiet, inner, lonely path, and this has a lot of value as we go deeply within and begin to find our unique contribution in the world. But if we are to continue the development of our spiritual intelligence, there is much to be gained by being connected to a group of like-minded people who are also working on themselves. This tends to speed up our growth.
5. Set intentions for your spiritual state of being when you wake up in the morning, and take inventory of your thoughts, actions, and state of being before you go to sleep at night. This type of daily practice reinforces your commitment to live your life from a place of spiritual values, such as compassion, forgiveness, joy, and creativity.
6. Focus on being of service. An attitude of service is at the core of all the world’s spiritual traditions, and it is what provides a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Take the time to examine who it is you serve, what gifts you have to offer, and what work you feel called to do. When you focus on being of service, your life provides countless opportunities for the development of your spiritual intelligence, and you are more likely to help others to develop their SQ as well.
People who develop their spiritual intelligence have a powerful and positive impact on a great many people. It is like a multiplier effect. Like the ripple effect that comes from throwing a stone in a pond. So although it can seem a daunting and lonely task at times, it is worth it to continue to work on yourself, because you touch so many others, and it is through this kind of work that the world becomes a better place.
“Spiritual Intelligence at Work,” Cindy Wigglesworth (founder of Conscious Pursuits, Inc) defines spiritual intelligence as “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace (equanimity) regardless of the situation.”. She states that wisdom and compassion are two essential elements of successful leadership in today’s challenging business environment, and that the development of spiritual intelligence will help to give an organization its competitive edge.
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to lead others in the right direction without letting emotion sway a person in their decisions and choices. It is being a leader by example through careful observation of self, being aware of how the leaders own actions affect their co-workers. Olivier Serrat stated, ”Staff are now judged by new yardsticks: not just by how smart they are, or by their training and expertise, but also by how well they handle themselves and one another. And that is strongly influenced by personal qualities such as perseverance, self-control, and skill in getting along with others.” Serrat, O. (2009).
Being EI, the person is aware of how they speak, what language they use and how they communicate it to others through their vocabulary. EI persons are always evaluating how they act around others personally, and how their own actions and behaviors affect them and their work performance.
Emotional intelligence is being able to maneuver through obstacles and making good decisions in the middle of rough circumstances. A person can be under extreme pressure, yet still be able to function under that stress and pressure. Emotional intelligence can determine whether a leader is successful at leading others in the work environment or life itself by creating the circumstances in an environment that others are productive.
Self awareness is a key element in emotional intelligence. A person needs to pay attention to details in their environment. It can work in two ways one being self aware, but also socially aware. One being that people must understand how their body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and communications skills affects the outcome of how productive they are in communicating with another person, or group.
EI persons are aware of their weaknesses and strengths. They understand their example is extremely important as they are always being watched, as they will always have their co-workers following them. Most people would agree that example is never by words, but always watching others actions.
The second point being, emotionally intelligent leaders are aware of cultural differences around the globe. They are aware of religious differences, as well as racial, and gender differences. They are very diversified politically, culturally, socially, and some times religiously. They will challenge themselves to learn everything they can to gain the knowledge and wisdom to lead other people. They will go where most people never go. They will dig deep down in the trenches, and understand society and people as whole. They will even speak with the untouchables of society where others will just turn their backs. They will shed their discriminations, prejudices, and bias until there is none left.
Emotionally intelligent people know how to problem solve. They see and gather all the information provided in any situation, research more, and bring all parts together into the whole in creating the big picture and end result to a positive conclusion. They will pay attention to details. They will be socially aware of how society functions as a whole. They will observe actions of others, watch how they relate to one another. See where the problems are, evaluate the situation, and come up with a positive outcome.
They are very optimistic, push against the grain, and work very hard to where they want to go regardless of what the situation or circumstances looks like in the moment They have a vision for the future. They set goals. EI people do not sit and wait for things to happen but get involved whether the moment presents stress, or difficulties. They can work under extreme pressure, but still hold their composure emotionally. EI people are empathetic towards others. They have the capacity to lead because they are not persuaded by emotion or by others beliefs or perceptions. They stand their ground and not afraid to say what they have to in the moment whether someone wants to hear it or not. They also will go against the grain of what society or or social norms say. They will not conform to anyone’s standards or rules. They are always thinking out of the box, using critical thinking skills.
“Critical thinking, I believe, is the only plausible vehicle by means of which we could bring intelligence to bear upon our emotional life. It is critical thinking I shall argue, and critical thinking alone, which enables us to take active command of not only our thoughts, but our feelings, emotions, and desires as well. It is critical thinking which provides us with the mental tools needed to explicitly understand how reasoning works, and how those tools can be used to take command of what we think, feel, desire, and do.” Elder, L (1996).
Emotional Intelligent persons see life like a Rubik’s cube. It is a puzzle to solve, and gather all relevant information that is available, put it together, look at it together from different perspectives. Learn the lessons of life from their past and present moment and apply it to their lives. Looking at the problem in the moment from a multi-dimensional view and perspective to get many angles of the same problem to come up with the best solution possible. They will challenge themselves to be the best person they can be under any circumstance that presents itself.
EI persons concentrate on positive aspects of life, and how they can improve the world, or group. They will search out positive ways to resolve conflict. They will advocate for what ever cause they stand behind. They can easily adapt to different circumstances and situations while still holding their composure. They do not care what others think of them, or what other people say about them. They will take criticism in a manner that is affective, learn the lesson from it, and not internalize the message. They are very aware of how people affect one another in conversations and arguments. EI They will choose to look at the situation at hand creating in the present moment, not looking to the past, nor the future, but be in the here and now. They will have a vision and be optimistic and carrying that vision out to the end.
EI persons understand to surround themselves with positive people, successful people, and brilliant minds, while leaving any negative people behind. They will choose to fill their minds with positive affirmations, quotes, research studies on leadership, success, and high performance in the work place. They will study self-help books as well. EI persons are always learning something new everyday stretching their mind and thinking skills. They will push themselves past the limited thinking of most people. They learn to balance their lives emotionally and sometimes spiritually.
Spiritual Intelligence plays a part in emotional intelligence by giving people purpose and direction in their lives. They concentrate more on being true to themselves, than someone else. They also hold their values, morals, and ethical views to the highest standards. It gives them self worth and a purpose driven life.
Cindy Wigglesworth defines spiritual intelligence: “I define Spiritual Intelligence as “the ability to behave with Compassion and Wisdom while maintaining inner and outer peace (equanimity) regardless of the circumstances.” Compassion and Wisdom together form the manifestation of Love. “Behave” is important because it focuses on how well we maintain our center, stay calm, and actually treat others with compassion and wisdom. The statement of “regardless of the circumstances” shows that we can maintain our peaceful center and loving behaviors even under great stress. This is what we admire in our spiritual leaders. Wigglesworth, C. (2009).
Spiritual Intelligence persons are aware of themselves, and how they change themselves, and how this also reflects on those around them. They concentrate on not focusing on the negative things in the world, the past, or the future. They stay in the moment, create in the moment focusing on the positive, and not the negative aspects of life. They learn to turn off the negativity, condition themselves to not focus on talking about their problems, but seeing the solutions to their problems, and what they can do and achieve on their own.
They are taught to be leaders and independent thinkers. Through discipline they are able to control their emotions and make sound judgments and good advice through wisdom and understanding. They do not focus on what they can not do. They have a divine nature focusing on having a positive and loving nature to themselves, and those that are around them. They understand themselves first, heal themselves, learn their life lessons, and than can go on to heal others. They work on themselves first, being aware of the things they need to change within themselves before they can teach others to leave the negativity in relationships and the world. They focus on love and healing the heart of a person. When you have learned to conquer your own fears, trials, and struggles, than you can help others to do the same through your example. Spiritual Intelligent persons are aware at all times someone is learning something through their example. It may be the way you handle arguments, the way you strive to be the best student, or employee. They are very self aware that someone is always learning from them through their actions and behaviors. It is more about leading others to be true to themselves, and not buying into societies, family, or cultural distortions or hidden agendas.
Emotional Intelligent persons believe in a higher source, or God that will make their way for them. They are walking by faith and not by sight. They are much stronger in some sense, because they feel that they are put here on earth to complete a specific purpose or fulfill a plan destined by God. They believe that with a higher source guiding them that they can accomplish anything they put there mind to, and if God’s hand is in it, nothing can stop them from achieving it. They are more confident than others knowing they are a leader for a reason and may work harder than other leaders to meet that challenge of serving God. Spiritual intelligence displays that we have a soul and a spirit. It is not just the mind, but mind, body, and soul. This is where psychology and sociology keep spiritual views separate from psychological and sociological views due to society does not accept them as much as the other in treating a client.
“Emotions are the energy, information, spirit and soul through which we know life. If our spirit is controlled by others who need to direct our feelings, we may lose our spirit. Emotions help us communicate our needs to others. If we turn away from others, or turn off responsive feelings we have for another, we lose relationship.” Ream, A (2009).
Psychologists, and Sociologists are only treating people biologically, and chemically with a drug. As well as only using Cognitive Behavior Therapy. In a holistic spiritual approach they are being trained to focus their mind through mediation, taught how to use natural healing herbs or vitamins instead of man made chemicals. It is only to the last century that people became pharmaceutical happy. Eastern Philosophies and natural healing has been around for centuries. Eastern philosophies teach to take care of the whole person, not just part of it, or just biologically. In some cases medications may be suitable, but in mild forms of emotional problems can be treated with water therapy, art therapy, and many other therapies. These therapies can produce the same chemical serotonin, as well as if the person is loved, or in love it produces the same chemicals. A person can produce the same chemicals in the brain to regulate emotions and moods through exercise. Through art, and writing the person develops critical thinking skills as well as learn the multi-dimensional views of life by looking at things from different perspectives and evaluating what the picture means. Psychological and Sociological views are only treating the client partially, and maybe only treating the symptoms with medication. Not the soul or spirit of a person. If the person does have a spiritual belief than psychology or sociology views will not help them, when they believe they have a spirit or soul, and that God heals. There is not enough studies done on this, but spiritual intelligence mixed with emotional intelligence can propel a person to succeed and excel.
Emotional Intelligent people are not afraid to go places where others fear to go. They walk through the illusions of fear. They stare fear in the face, and overcome all fears. They realize that fear is there biggest obstacle. It holds them back from achieving their goals. Fear paralyzes people, freezes them so to speak and they become stuck in their progress in life. They can become so immobilized by fear they do not function under pressure because there focus is on what they fear, instead of taking action and walking through the illusion of fear.
“Emotional intelligence provides a person with the skills needed to manage emotions and moods. Emotions can easily overwhelm us or highjack how we are feeling. However, we can learn to recognize when we are feeling swept away and can determine how long that feeling lasts. Emotions that are out of control or that are negative can overwhelm our concentration and make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. So emotionally intelligent persons know that fear is not something to prevent them from moving through their obstacles. They go above, below, or through their obstacles without fear.” Geisecke, J. (2007).
Emotions can become overwhelming, causing a person not to be able to focus or concentrate on things or tasks in the moment. EI persons understand that emotion is natural, just to feel what the feel and release the feeling and let it go. The EI person also detaches from the situation, objects, and people to have and objective point of view. They do not personalize anything. They are aware that when someone else says or does something they do not own it, nor are they responsible for that persons feelings, or emotions, or reactions to it. They can not control how a person performs or the reaction. They can only control the way they present or communicate the information to the public.
EI people have a sense of what other people feel through empathy. They try to put themselves in the other persons shoes. They try to see things from their perspective as well as their own. EI persons will listen to others to hear what they have to say, being considerate, and pay attention to the details of what is being said. If there is a conflict between two people they are able to hear both sides of the stories, see their perspectives, gather information, and come with a solution, suggest what they see themselves, and hopefully get a positive outcome trying to resolve issues in a positive manner.
EI people also know that failure is part of succeeding. They are not persuaded with emotion when they understand failure is what leads them to success. Many famous people failed in life, they just kept getting back up and striving to make it to the top regardless of what others said to them, or whether people believed in them. They understood in every failure there was a lesson to be learned. They used their failures to propel them to the next lesson in life.
Conflict Theory: Would say that emotions inhibit us from succeeding. Although conflict is a part of life, without it, one does not learn to problem solve. Conflict produces a problem. When we struggle with something, we are pushed to solved the problem and figure it out if we want to get somewhere. The person in conflict has to do something if they want to get out of the situation and move forward, or they get stuck and get nowhere. Emotion can get in the way, but at the same time if you have the emotion of anger: For example, if someone tells you can’t do something, a person uses that emotion of anger to prove that person wrong that they can do it. So it is debatable to say that emotion prohibits achievement to a certain degree.
Functionalist Theory: Would say that emotions play a big part in a person learning from others how to function in society. From feeling sad or happy, to smiling or frowning, or how to communicate negatively or positively when someone is in an argument. A child learns to regulate their behaviors of emotions by watching its parents in relationships or interacting with the child itself. If you have an anxious mother that allows emotion to control them, the child will learn to do so as well.
Interactionist Theory: Would say that emotions are biological, it is a natural response from hormones, and feelings. It is a separate from cognitive thinking. Memories do trigger emotion, but at the same time a person can control not dwelling on a memory, or focusing on one. It can be an automatic response from hormones. If a women is on her monthly cycle she can be tired, as well as start crying at the slightest thing. As well as when she is pregnant, can be overly emotional when something says something good or bad to her, and may take it the wrong way. Animals also show emotion when being hit, or kicked, feeling pain, or making noise to indicate they are in pain.
Emotional Intelligence covers a variety of concepts and can become confusing with self awareness, emotional awareness, spiritual awareness, self awareness and seems to blend into many definitions and self concepts. It is a big blur trying to define all these terms which many of them say the same thing. Whether Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence can be blended together is another thing. Very similar definitions and outcomes.
Written by Kimberly Weichel and Dr. Judi Neal