Languiging Christian Emotions

Intelligent Christian Emotions

Armand Kruger, MA


Can the existing ideas on emotional intelligence by applied to Christianity? The author offers a qualification to thinking about emotional intelligence in general: as we denominalize the thinking about emotions, we might conclude that languiging the message of the emotions is where the intelligence lies. Emotional intelligence is a meta-function and the intelligence is in the accurate/ useful/ appropriate thinking about the emotions, not in the emotions themselves. Sin comes first then the longing heart. Preferred sin's are reflected in preferred emotions, in the expressing of preferred matrixes of the mind and becoming aware of Christian dragon states and asking meaningful questions.

Languiging the Emotions

"The results of intelligence are plans and the execution of these plans. "Classic Intelligence" as measured by the IQ test mainly looks how good people are at solving problems. "Emotional Intelligence" focuses on how people are able to get results. Intelligence as a process refers to how a person deals with information. This is clear for "classic intelligence": you analyze a problem and recombine the information you have to come up with a solution. In this context, rational thinking and logic are much appreciated.

"For emotional intelligence, the process definition is somewhat more complicated. Indeed, to "intelligently deal with an emotion" one has to get by a strange paradox: emotions are "unspeakable". Emotions are deep level structure, in stead of surface structure, as Chomsky would put it. We can only talk "about" the emotion, by describing how one is actually experiencing the emotion or by explaining the context in which the emotion happens and how you interpret that context through your thinking. Not only is it difficult to communicate emotions, observing the "nonverbal" elements will only give a partial answer, since one needs to talk with the other person to be sure one interprets this nonverbal information correctly."1

The most one can say about the emotions without "going away" from their immediate representation, is about their submodalities, or the "meta-details" as Michael Hall ( (2000) calls it in his "Structure of Excellence." For the emotions to be an intelligent source of information, one has to go even more "meta-" than just languiging the meta-details, one has to go to the meaning which the emotions refers to. To communicate intelligently about the content of an emotion people resort to referring to what or who "in the world caused" the emotion, or what "it" means about which they have the emotion.

Functions of the Emotions

From a NLP perspective, when we do strategy elicitation using the T.O.T.E.-model, feelings have the function is a kinesthetic test to start or stop an operation. K-tests are the cleanest examples of the fact that emotions are "pointers to" information rather than primary information itself.

From a content perspective, first there was the important "trust your feelings" idea about whether one should or shouldn't. This works pretty much the way T.O.T.E.'s would identify K-tests, however, with an important piece missing: what criteria are the feeling cues based on? What standard is being utilized in the experience of the emotion? This way of thinking is now followed up with emotions as being an intelligence which has relevant information to process and make judgements about. An overview of the literature shows an increasing pattern where "the emotions" are not only being nominalised ("thingified") but they are taking on a life of their own! When an author says "the emotions know" or "emotions tell you that..."etc., then the functions of emotions are becoming obscure.

It also struck me, that like the value words, on the average the same emotional words have to do the work for an infinite variety of meanings or messages. The value-word "trust" will have different meanings in different kinds of relationships and contexts. And it appears so does the feeling-words, especially the words about meta-feelings, i.e., feelings about feelings.

I offer the reader the following: Feelings are therefore the tail-end of a process, and that the content of the emotions refers to context specific meanings

Patterns of emotions and matrixes of the mind

In Leslie Cameron-Bandler's work on the Imperative Self2 she has indicated that people have patterns of emotions which are indicative of their efforts to answer their driving virtual question. Virtual questions might be: "How will I be loved?" "How will I experience personal significance?" "How to get personal security in an unsafe world?" These virtual questions are implied in the thoughts, feelings and behaviors which are endeavors to answer this highest level concern.

This work of Leslie was instrumental in me compiling a list of questions that I use as introduction to when I run Michael Hall's program on "Dragon Slaying". Here they are for you to do some basic exploration of your emotional patterns:

  1. over the past month, what were the typical emotions that you have experienced?
  2. what is the ratio between ''feeling good'' and ''feeling bad''?
  3. if you had a choice, which emotions would you have wanted to experience more (either with more intensity or with a higher frequency)?
  4. do you recognise a pattern when the emotions do occur (I.e., in the people, circumstances, the meanings)?
  5. if you had to select the ''typical'' emotions for this period of time, and imagined they were messages from yourself to yourself, what are you communicating to yourself; what is the message you are giving yourself?
  6. this ''message'', how generally applicable is it? Put another way, is this only applicable to some, or many situations or people?
  7. what emotional or feeling messages are you not giving yourself that you would want to do more often or more intensely?

This is an indication of your awareness of your representative states through the period of time.

Do these states serve you well?

Are these states the best way in which to be the best version of yourself?

Can you utilise your best strategies/skills in the circumstances where you are aware of your state?

The balance between feeling good and feeling bad is one indicator of your assessment with reference to being a ''happy camper'' in your own life.

The message tells, or begin to tell, you about the content of the experience, for example, whether the experience has a positive meaning for you; whether it is aligned with the applicable values; whether the experience serves you well; etc. The positiveness or negativeness of the emotion or feeling reflects whether it matches, or not, your (highest?) criteria in that context. A positive experience is indicative of matching, and a not good experience is indicative of not matching the applicable set of values.3

The context specificity or the generality of the message indicates how wide spread the validity or perceived similarity is of the judgement or conviction. And this pattern is the states we live associated with the matrixes of our mind.4

Feelings and Emotions:

A very useful distinction between the feelings and emotions would be to link it with the distinction between primary experiences and meta-experiences.5 Primary experiences are our first representational (including kinesthetic/feeling) awareness in relating to an object world and experiencing organized/interpreted information about that world. When people share primary experiences one hears the predicates (feeling-, sound-, picture-words) in their language.

Meta-experiences are what we experience as we have given meaning to our primary experiences. Meta-experiences can represent many layers of meaning, as in every step above/beyond an existing experience we have a meaning about the lower level. Every self-reflecting question, and there is always another question about the previous answer, is answered by a different meaning and layer in our experience. The language here is more abstract and one would find progressively less primary experience language as the person goes more and more "meta-" to the primary experience. The words used in meta-experiences sound like a thought rather than a feeling. I remember in my pre-Neuro-Semantic days how I frequently questioned them with, "I hear your thinking, but how did you feel?". As if "feelings" are more important or real than the emotions of a meta-state! Feelings are first awareness, emotions are the meanings given upon the first awareness, and here, as I will indicate in a follow up article, is where trauma lies: at what the incident mean, rather than exclusively at the primary level. Trauma management is meaning management. As a psychologist I know this because all the therapies I have been trained in before NLP, offers ways of unbundling or reframing the meanings people use as a platform for their negative states for which they come for therapy.

Christian implications

I have also come across a similar confusion in the Christian community about our thinking about the emotions. I am still very grateful for the help I got to reconsider my views about the emotions.6 One of the traps are to think of the emotions as full and final reasons for doing things. Not as mere tests for go-no go, but as denominalized things that make us do things and "know" the answers. Like the typical "longing heart" concept. In this thinking the "longing heart" becomes the cause for our sin. My view is that God does not describe our problems as stemming from the fact that we have longing hearts. Rather, our sin and misery flow from the fact that we are, by nature, idolaters who turn to anything (including food) rather than submit to a holy God. First rebellion, then the longing heart/deep down feelings as a reminder of what we are missing, the price, as it were, that we are paying for being out of touch with God. But, in the awareness of the price to pay, is the message: missing God in our life's!7

Our emotions are the reflections of how we rate our journey in answering personal questions about God's role in our life's. "Suppose a man escapes from prison. Certainly he will have grief. He is going to be in pain after bumping logs and stones and defenses as he crawls and hides away in the dark. He is going to be hungry and cold and weary. His beard will grow long and he will be tired and cramped and cold - all of these things will happen, but they are incidental to the fact that he is a fugitive from justice and a rebel against law." (A. W. Tozer: I Call It Heresy (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1973). pp. 9-10.) Our emotional history is the answers that we like or dislike based on the collective frames-of-reference (the matrixes of our mind), and like a thumb-print, will show a characteristic pattern which corresponds with our matrixes about the ultimate meaning of life. Our preferred ways of rebelling, as is our sensitivity to certain idols, will be expressed in the patterns/themes of our emotions.

Christian dragons8

We create emotional dragons when we make a negative judgement about a primary experience. If the primary experience already contains a negative judgement reflected by a negative emotion, then the result is the intensification of the negative experience, ergo, the dragon state. Ways to create dragons are to judge your own anger and feel guilty; to feel guilty about feeling guilty; to respond with self-rejection when you have made a mistake; to act out "God's wrath" on yourself when you have "done it again". To say this in another way: to intensify guilt instead of doing introspection and repentance; to accentuate self-judgement rather than stretching for Christ-mindedness; to actively play the blame-game rather than self-examination; fueling unloving/unforgiving emotions with self-righteousness, etc.

Bear with me on the following generalization: Christian dragon states are based on thought viruses which wipes out from the matrixes of our mind the redemptive work of Christ and therefore the mercy of God. Dragon states in the Christian mind, like anywhere else, reduces the options of how to deal with them and the messages which they hide in the pain they bring us. The question now is: in dealing with emotional pain in the life of a Christian, can we afford to not consider the pain as a friend? I have frequently said that other people's pain is my enemy, and therefore my love of the speed with which one can reach choice and "resolution" with the NLP-patterns which I did apply. I am still strongly opposed to the "no pain, no gain" philosophy, but have learned some lessons from my Neuro-semantics training.

Firstly, the meaning of people's emotional hurt are very private and unique messages. Secondly, that is why merely telling a hurting Christian to pray or which scripture to read, or even the simple reminder that Christ did die for him or her, is disrespectful and not effective. Why? Until the message about the meaning is clear, how does the practitioner know which answer to facilitate; what question needs answering? There are multiple answers to the same God-referenced question. There are multiple idols that would do the job for certain longings, and the way to begin is with the individual's own frame-of-reference and the meanings they subscribe to. For example, the pain from a divorce is not standard about loneliness, or not coping, or feeling rejected, etc.

Only the person and the Holy Spirit knows the question to which the pain is the answer. For us mortals, I think the opening question to working with Christians in pain would be: "What does it mean to you? This hurt that you are experiencing, what about the event/context is so painful?"

The emotional language of the person is their language of pain and it's meaning; the meaning is not in the incident but in the meaning attributed to it. Pain is the response to a violation of a significant standard or higher level meaning, like any one or a combination of: high values relevant to personal significance, self-worth, security, trust in people, trust in God (what trust? Based on what definition of God), etc.


The intelligence of emotions is what one thinks about the emotions, which are about the meanings they refer to. The Christian has infinite numbers of ways of using emotional messages to seek out idols for answers, to blame for the pain, to create dragons about their pain, and to sacrifice the Sacred Romance for smaller stories and answers dressed up as "meaning of life" solutions. The starting point is the meanings the person creates about that which they want to talk about, and it starts with the (implied) question: what does it mean to you?

1. Armand Kruger and Patrick Merlevede: Emotional Intelligence and Perceptual Positions. NLP World, Vol. 8, No.2, July 2001; p25.

2. There is an article in an earlier edition of Anchor Point which I am unable to trace in my library, with a brief overview of this thinking.

3. For more see my article in Anchor Point March 1999, page 44ff.

4. See any of L. Michael Hall's books on Meta-States

5. L. Michael Hall ( revised 2nd edition, 2000) Dragon Slaying, p23; p 78.

6. See Mark J Chinonna's reply to my "Renewal of the Mind";

7. See Eldredge, John (2000):THE JOURNEY OF DESIRE, SEARCHING FOR THE LIFE WE'VE ONLY DREAMED OF. Thomas Nelson Publishers; and The Sacred Romance. Copyright @ 1997 by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge.Published by Thomas Nelson.

8. The following is the result of a discussion with Michael Hall while driving home from the Trainers Training in SA in August, 2001. These viewpoints are exclusively my personal conclusions.

Contact information for Armand Kruger:

South Africa's Institute of Neuro - Semantics
Armand Kruger
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
Fax: 2716-362-1559

2001 Armand Kruger All rights reserved.