Discover Your Emotional Age: Heal Yourself & Change Your Life (Interview & Book Giveaway)

The Emotional Edge

Update – The winners for this giveaway are:

  • Toni Nash
  • Katherine Poff

When I first discovered Crystal Andrus Morissette’s new book The Emotional Edge, I was intrigued. I knew the book would offer a process for discovering our “Emotional Age,” a term that was new to me, but I didn’t realize it would provide a powerful roadmap for healing the wounded parts of our psyche and growing into our most empowered, authentic self.

From the Amazon page:

The Emotional Edge empowers you to stop reacting in knee-jerk ways that hurt and instead start expanding your life to become the greatest expression of you possible. Once you know your Emotional Age, you can take any needed steps to become an authentic adult so you stop giving your power away.

You’ll learn:

  • Whether you’re a Parent, Child, or Adult ‘archetype’—take the Emotional Age Quiz and find out
  • When you’re inadvertently sabotaging yourself and why
  • How to channel fear and anger into courage and willingness
  • How to change your communication scale and style from passive or aggressive to assertive, accepting, and ultimately peaceful
  • Methods for fine-tuning into your unique needs mentally, emotionally, and physically
  • Ways to live your best life without guilt, shame, or blame
  • And lastly, how to rewrite and re-route your relationship, work, and bliss paths

Never feel like a victim of circumstance, genetics, or your past again. Instead of letting your emotions get the best of you, now it’s time to get the best of them!

Fascinating and insightful, The Emotional Edge brings you on a journey of self-discovery and offers the tools to help you break your unhealthy patterns and show up differently in the world.

Since Crystal provided incredibly detailed responses to my interview questions about her work and her book, I’m going to keep this introduction brief and get right to them. But first…

The Giveaway

To enter to win one of two free copies of The Emotional Edge:

  • Leave a comment below
  • For an extra entry, tweet: Enter the @tinybuddha giveaway to win a free copy of The Emotional Edge http://bit.ly/1RDtEa2

You can enter until midnight PST on Monday, April 11th.

The Interview

Trigger warning: this section mentions sexual abuse, which may be triggering to some people.

1. Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to write this book.

I’m a happily married Canadian woman with two spectacular daughters (who are now nineteen and twenty-one), a wonderful husband, and a thriving business as the founder of an international coaching institute, exclusively for women.

I’ve written four books and I live a blessed life out in the country. But things weren’t always this peaceful, happy, and successful . . .

I left home at fifteen after experiencing a series of devastating events: my parents’ turbulent divorce, when I was twelve, when my stay-at-home ‘Christian’ mother became a promiscuous party girl and fitness competitor who invited far too many men home. My father moved away to a new city and never seemed to worry or wonder where I was anymore.

This is when my life turned upside down: I was sexually abused almost immediately by my mother’s new twenty-four-year-old boyfriend; stranger-raped at fourteen at my first high school party; and then raped nightly by the father of the children I was sent to take care of (to be ‘the nanny’) at age fifteen. I only stuck around for a few months before heading out on my own.

By seventeen, I’d found out I had the early signs of cervical cancer and the HPV virus. It would take two years for the cells of my cervix to stop turning against me.

The bad luck, so to speak, followed me into my twenties, where I experienced a traumatic head injury at age twenty-one that fractured my skull, ocular, and cheekbone and damaged the nerves in the right side of my face. This injury would later cause abnormal activity on my left temporal lobe, which left me with seizures.

But it wasn’t until I had my own daughters in my mid-twenties and I gained over 100 pounds that I knew I had to look at myself, my life, and my inability to properly protect myself.

I had to heal myself and my legacy to make sure my daughters didn’t go through the suffering that I did. (We know now that ‘epigenetic programming’ messes up the DNA of children of wounded mothers.)

I needed to be the mother I needed in order to give my daughters a great start in their own lives.

It was then I began looking at the concept of Emotional Age (EA) and how I was showing up in the world.

2. What does “Emotional Age” mean, and why is it important that we each discover our own?

Emotional age is a similar concept to biological age. But rather than predicting how young or old our physical bodies are, emotional age helps us understand how empowered or disempowered we are emotionally. It helps explain how we’ve been communicating, compromising, socializing, and interacting with others.

Discovering your own emotional age is the most important step in improving your relationship with yourself, your life (health, wealth, etc.), and your relationships.

When I was heading in my late twenties (now nearly twenty years ago), I began working exclusively with women.

As I mentioned, I had gained over 100 pounds during my pregnancies, which was very hard coming from a ‘body beautiful’ background. (I’d previously competed in fitness shows such as the Miss Galaxy and was a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Fitness Specialist.)

It was then that I started doing a lot of work around the idea of ‘weight gain as protection’ rather than focusing on food/calories, which led me to the concept of emotional age.

I began to pay close attention to patterns in the way people treated themselves and others. I noticed how their emotions and level of empowerment dictated their choices rather than their intelligence quotient (IQ) or emotional intelligence (EI).

I noticed how some young adults seemed to carry the weight of the world (almost literally) on their shoulders in a more parenting persona.

Regardless of their age, or if they even had children, these folks were so selfless, so protective of others but not of themselves, and so extremely giving to the point of self-abnegation that I began to refer to these people as having too much “mother or father energy”—or being in a Parent archetype.

At the same time, I noticed others who seemed to have an almost opposing dominant emotional archetype that I called The Child—“daughter or son energy.” These people tended to be more selfish, frenetic, extremely emotional, and often more charming or coy than the parent archetypes.

As I worked with my clients, I began really working on myself too—looking at my own patterns and my own emotional age. It was then that I not only lost my excess weight, I made peace with myself.

I knew my weight wasn’t about calories; it was reflective of the energy or level of empowerment that I was embodying. The same is true about our finances, relationships, health, etc.

Once I shifted into this emotional place, I noticed other successful, joyful, grounded people who also showed up in the world in what I call “woman or man energy”—the adult archetype; the fully integrated and empowered person. I knew it was time to write a book and teach others about their emotional age!

3. Can you tell us a little about the “Empowerment Scale,” and how we can use this tool to better understand ourselves and improve our communication style?

The Empowerment Spectrum is the tool I created to help determine emotional age. It is composed of two primary concepts.

The first is that we each embody three dominant archetypes—the Parent, The Child, and The Adult. And the second is that we each have a style we use to engage with all those with whom we have a relationship that varies from passive to peaceful. I call this the Communication Scale. It runs up through the center of the Empowerment Spectrum.

Our level of communication reveals how we are showing up in the world; it is the easiest indicator of our emotional age. But communicating our true needs can be incredibly difficult, and many of us fall into unhealthy and self-limiting patterns and behaviors.

The great news is that once you become mindful of where you are resonating on the Empowerment Spectrum, you can climb the scale and show up as an Adult rather than a Parent or Child—in any and all areas of your life. Remember, emotional age has nothing to do with chronological age.

4. In Chapter Three, you wrote, “Unhealed experiences keep triggering us into disempowering emotional places.” Can you expand on this?

Over the course of our lives, we have trajectory changing moments that cause us to feel guilt and shame. In these painful moments, we disown parts of our self and bury them in our proverbial basement—our unconscious mind. Shame, shame, shame on me!

We bury our Warrior. We bury our Princess. We bury our Charmer. We bury our Perfectionist. And so on. We just keep burying parts of ourselves so that we don’t have to feel badly. Who wants to feel badly about themself? No one does! 

I never want to feel that again, so I will disown that part of me.

Eventually, we have all these compartmentalized aspects of our lives and of ourselves. We are no longer whole. Complete. Expansive. We are little tiny fragments. Frozen. Shards of glass. Shards of light.

We are wounded, looking out at the world trying to figure out who or what will help us feel whole, safe, and loved again. In fact, we need others to heal us because they become the mirror for us to see where we are still wounded.

People who trigger us remind us of when we were shamed in the past. They trigger our wounds—neuro-associations to a past pain—something we haven’t yet healed and something we never want to feel again.

In other words, something within them elicits the wounds within us. We feel a prick of that pain again in the here and now (and sometimes it’s a lot more than a prick); all the old unhealed ‘stuff’ comes flying out. This is why we have to clean up our own yards before we expect anyone else to.

5. In your “communication scale,” you’ve shown passive and peaceful communication as opposite ends of the spectrum. I think many of us mistakenly assume these are the same things. What, exactly, differentiates the two?

Peace isn’t about everyone being the same, thinking the same, or feeling the same. It isn’t even about everyone liking you or agreeing with you.

Peace is agreeing to disagree. It is honoring our differences and doing our best to find common ground. Peace is acceptance expanded. But you can’t have peace if you’re afraid to speak. You can’t have peace if you’re afraid to listen.

Passivity, on the other hand, depends upon your fear of speaking up or disagreeing, while avoiding any kind of confrontation becomes your primary concern.

Many people think they are peaceful when, in fact, they aren’t. They’ve turned the other cheek, bit their tongue until it bleeds, while continuing to accept unhealthy behavior—often from those who claimed to love them the most!

6. In explaining the fourth step of the WOMAN acronym—your cue for assertiveness—you wrote, “…passive people ask disempowered questions, while empowered people ask empowered questions.” Can you give us an example of a disempowered and empowered question we might ask ourselves, and share how the latter could help us be more assertive?

The brain is a search engine. When you ask it a question, it searches through its databanks, so to speak, for the answer.

We know that when we ask ourselves a disempowered question, our brain will find disempowered answers. The same applies to asking empowered questions. In fact, scientists from the seventies discovered that the way we speak to ourselves about ourselves changes everything!

As an example, if you were to ask yourself: “Why am I such a loser?” or “Why am I so fat?” your brain wouldn’t say, “Sweetheart, you’re not a loser!’ or “You’re beautiful, don’t talk like that about yourself!” Nope! Your brain would search for all the reasons why you are a loser or a fatso!

Alternatively, if you were to ask yourself: “What could I do to lose weight and feel great about myself?” Your brain would give you a list of choices that would help you. For example: exercise and drink more water, eat a salad, meditate, etc. The brain literally searches for answers to our questions without any conscience or kindness.

Once you learn how to ask yourself more empowered questions, your life begins to shift into a more empowered place. And by focusing on your desires rather than on past letdowns, you redirect your thoughts toward possibilities rather than problems.

7. As the last two steps in your four-step boundary setting formula, you recommend asking, “Would you be willing to ___________?” and then stating, “If you can’t do this for me, I will _____________.” Do you have any advice for people pleasers who find it difficult to share and honor their needs in this way, for fear of rocking the boat?

When someone is afraid to set a boundary, it simply means they are still disempowered. They simply don’t (or can’t) say what they really mean and they don’t mean what they say, which is why it is very challenging to have an honest and fulfilling relationship with a people pleaser.

Truth be told, people pleasers don’t always realize how indirect and roundabout their communication style is. They may not even realize how little self-advocacy they are doing.

They’ve spent a lifetime being let down, abused, or ignored, so they swing between trying to be what you want them to be and wanting you to try to figure out who they really are. There is a lot of fear in this communication zone!

The people pleaser needs to establish trust that their ideas are valid and will be heard. In other words, trust that you deserve to be listened to, protected, and respected.

If you’re in an environment where this is not the case—where you do not feel safe—it is not your fault, whether or not you allowed it! Self-shaming and living with guilt will not empower you to make the changes you need to make. Instead, you need to find a safe place to learn how to begin expressing yourself, your feelings, and your needs. But it all begins with you.

You have to give yourself permission to matter! Believe it or not, the most dynamic, successful, happy people have mastered self-advocacy.

8. In Chapter Seven, you wrote, “Your relationship can only be as healthy as the unhealthiest part of you.” I imagine the same is true of our partners. What would you recommend to someone who is doing this work, whose partner will not?

Keep doing your own work, period! Focus on making yourself and your own life happier. One of the best things that we can do is to let the atmosphere in our relationships lift and lighten.

I know it may feel counterproductive, but stop talking about your problems with the person who seems to be at the root of them; you’re angry and need to express yourself! But let’s not kid ourselves: there is nothing new to be gained by arguing.

Focus on radical self-love and watch every aspect of your life—including your relationship—improve. Once your partner feels this subtle yet significant change, he or she will be open and willing to help more, show you more affection, and yes, have those long talks that you desire.

Striving to grow and to heal can be a lifelong process. But as you turn toward your partner, think about how you can provide the kind of loving support that you yourself crave.

9. What is the main message you hope readers take from your book?  

Whatever is repressed will find a way to be expressed. Patterns continue until they are broken. You have to face yourself and your stuff. You have to dig it up and deal with it: You have to move through it. There is no other way. You can’t go over it, under it, around it, or behind it.

We can keep pointing the finger out there, but healing is an inside job! In fact, ninety-nine percent of our problems really have little to do with what is happening in the here and now.

They’re all old wounds—old stories! Neuroassociations. You can even just chalk it up to ‘karma’ because that’s all it is: old toxic crap that needs to be cleaned out. Neutralized. Recontextualized. Healed. Cleared. Crystal-cleared. 😉

You can learn more about The Emotional Edge on Amazon here.

FTC Disclosure: I receive complimentary books for reviews and interviews on tinybuddha.com, but I am not compensated for writing or obligated to write anything specific. I am an Amazon affiliate, meaning I earn a percentage of all books purchased through the links I provide on this site. 

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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