The Power of Emotional Wisdom

Jenny Florence, HuffPost, The Third Metric

Wisdom is the creative outcome of knowledge and experience that have become integrated and joined together, and it is our emotions that inform this process and make it possible. Our emotions are continually live and online. Like a navigation system, they are continually informing us. When we talk about quality of life, we are talking about the way that we feel. Our emotions let us know when life is going well, and in no uncertain terms, they let us know when it is not. This is how we learn and this is how we develop understanding.

Wisdom is dependent upon our capacity to listen to and understand our emotional experience. Our emotions underpin every aspect of our well-being. When we talk about our mental health, we are not simply talking about our mind and the way that we think; we are talking about the way that we feel; and we all know that when we are emotionally stressed or unhappy, this will have a massive impact on our physical health and well-being.

Wisdom is an internal journey. It is dependent upon our ability to trust our own inner experience and our own inner voice and to be responsive to this. Our emotions are integral to every aspect of our lives and to our very experience of being. If we are shut off from our emotions then we simply cannot arrive at a place of integrity, a place of connectedness or of wholeness, either internally or externally.

Wisdom is dependent upon our capacity for reflective thought. To integrate our experiences and transform them into a wealth of understanding we will need to develop an internal place of reflection, of curiosity, and of interest. Paradoxically, reflective thought is both a place of stillness and yet also a place of profound growth and therefore a place of movement. When we develop an internal space inside our mind where we are open to receiving, it enables us to be engaged in a continual state of real experience, where every moment of life becomes a journey of interest and possibility. This is why mindfulness and meditation are so incredibly valuable.

Wisdom is dependent on our ability to receive. For us to be able to integrate our experiences in ways that inform us and build our internal growth and resilience, we will need to be open to receiving. If we have been brought up in a world in which our ability to make choices were not supported or encouraged or indeed if our entitlement to choice was in any way violated, then we may have learned to defend against receiving. And this will get in the way of our capacity to develop wisdom. We may be locked into a more defensive way of living rather than being open to our greatest possibility.

Wisdom results from a healthy relationship between our emotions and our mind and for this relationship to flourish we will need to learn a fluent emotional language and a good emotional vocabulary. It is impossible to fully integrate experience and thought without an emotional language. Emotional intelligence is exactly this. Emotional intelligence is our minds ability to develop a language that allows us to interpret and make sense of the way that we feel. This in turn allows us to process our life experiences and turn them into a bank of healthy knowledge that supports us and fuels our ability to navigate our lives successfully.

Wisdom is a state of well-being and it's not static, it's a continual process of evolution, a natural process of continual growth and integration. It's not an end goal, it's a journey, and true integrity is being fully available to participate in that journey. Integrity is the birthplace of possibility and the birthplace of our fullest potential.

Wisdom is the ultimate state of integration. A connectedness and a relatedness between all aspects of our lives, both internally and externally; a meeting place where we can define our autonomy and yet at the same time stand vulnerable in the uncertainty that surrounds us, trusting in our inner knowing and responding intuitively and organically to our daily life experiences.

Wisdom is dependent upon the health of the relationship between our mind and our emotions. This is the most influential and significant relationship that you will ever have in your adult life and the honesty and congruence of this relationship will determine the shape of your adult life and the shape and direction of your actions and therefore the shape of the world that you live in.

True courage is about looking inwards, not outwards. Being able to stand firm in a place of vulnerability and to flourish and grow with honesty and humility is a strength beyond measure. This is the power of emotional wisdom.

Read the article: Florence, J. (2014, Dec. 4). The Power of Emotional Wisdom. HuffPost, The Third Metric.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/agsandrew.

  • Ron Krumpos said:

    While student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1961, I became friends with Carl Rogers, who was as one of the leading psychotherapists of the 20th century. He taught me much about the art of listening.

    Dr. Rogers said that when we listen, and people know we are listening, it shows we truly care about them. In turn, they will respond by caring about you. It opens communication and also opens hearts. When we accept them as a person, unconditionally, they will be more kind to you.


    We should listen without preconceptions, without anticipation and without judgement if we want others to portray what they truly feel. We listen with all our senses, not just to the words which are said. Some people cannot fully express themselves while speaking, so we must try to see them as they see themselves. We should watch for non-verbal clues as to what they really mean: facial expressions, body movements, etc.


    While we should show positive regard for the other person, we should also demonstrate our own positive self-regard. We do not react to their negative comments, verbally or physically, even when we disagree with them. When they do ask for our opinion, however, we should respond with our true thoughts and in specifics rather than generalities. We offer our own perspective as other options rather than as contradiction.


    Listening might seem quite passive as opposed to speaking. It is actually very active. To paraphrase Bobby Kennedy, "I learn while listening. When I talk I don't learn too much." If you think talking helps to spread your own wisdom, you are not really wise.

    December 10, 2014 11:37 AM
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