Robert Augustus Masters is an integral psychotherapist, relationship expert, spiritual teacher, and author of 14 books, including Spiritual Bypassing (2010). His work blends the psychological and physical with the spiritual, emphasizing embodiment, emotional literacy, shadow work, spiritual deepening, and the development of relational maturity. You can visit him at www.robertmasters.com.
Our culture has taught us that emotions are lower and less reliable than reason. We tend to think of them as tricky and worry that they can get the best of us. Women seem to have an easier time connecting with their emotions and expressing them freely. Men are often hobbled by emotional illiteracy which can be a stumbling block in all types of relationships. The spiritual challenge for both genders is to befriend our emotions and work with them in ways that open our hearts, minds and souls.
Masters defines the art of emotional intimacy as "(1) becoming intimate with our emotions, including their arising, expression, historical roots, and relational functioning; and (2) becoming intimate in our relationships with significant others through how we express and share our emotions." He begins with four steps in developing this capacity:
1. identify what you are feeling
2. directly state what you are feeling
3. make sure that the other person is really hearing what you're saying and
4. getting into details without losing touch.
Masters sees empathy as an essential ingredient in emotional maturity; it is very helpful in dealing with emotional disconnection — a widespread problem in relationships of all kinds. In chapters filled with great insights and practice suggestions, the author covers fear, shame, anger, sadness, joy, grief, disgust, guilt, depression, contempt, self-doubt, paranoia, jealousy, exultation, envy and awe. For Masters there are no negative emotions regardless of their darkness or difficulty. We can learn from them and in some cases transform them into positive actions and deeds.
He closes the book with a look at "collective overwhelm" which he defines as "a global destabilizing condition that combines excessive stimulation, massive information overload, unrelenting pressure, and a dread-infused numbing." Fear and anger are its predominant emotional correlates; luckily, it comes and goes. Here is where joy and awe and exultation come in as antidotes to this state of enormous dis-ease. He also has some positive things to say about emotional catharsis.
If you are interested in raising your emotional IQ, this is the ideal book for you!