In today’s conversation, I sit down with Dr. Tomi White Bryan who’s just authored a new book, Emotional Intelligence 3.0, and here’s a brief description. Every human being is born with unlimited creative energy, then life marks us up with red ink, teaching us who we’re supposed to be instead of who we really are.
Before we know it, our greatest birthright has been crossed out, leaving most of us believing it’s not safe to be who I am. But living your life by that lie won’t help you reach your dreams. Instead, it keeps you playing small in a really big universe. That stops today. Emotional Intelligence 3.0 offers a time-tested proven method for reclaiming your unlimited power of creation.
Learn step-by-step how to reawaken your magic, discover how far you’ve already come and accelerate your journey with purpose and intention. Here is my conversation with Dr. Tomi White Bryan.
Welcome into The Author Hour Podcast. I’m your host Benji Block and today, we’re thrilled to have Dr. Tomi White Bryan here on the podcast. She’s just authored a book titled, Emotional Intelligence 3.0: How to Stop Playing Small in a Really Big Universe. Quite the title, quite the book, excited to have you here.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Thank you so much, it’s my privilege to be with you today.
Benji Block: I was joking with you right before we hit record on this episode because this is book number five, which is incredible, and people are on their bucket list going, “I want to write a book some day” and you’re going, “No, I’m going to go ahead, I’m going to give people five.”
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: I’m going to write a series.
Benji Block: At this point, that’s exactly right. So tell me a little bit about what prompts this one, the focus on emotional intelligence and would love to hear that from your vantage point.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Yeah, thanks for asking that. Like anything else, right? It’s a long, perpetual ongoing, circular journey to something. I was sitting at home in November of 2019 thinking, “What am I really doing here? What are these books really about? What am I trying to help people with?” and as a systems thinker, right? I’m always trying to get to the root cause of something.
Where does this originate from? And I realized that to be our best selves, right? So for you to be your best, for me to be my best, it felt like this convergence of the self-help fields, the leadership discipline, and emotional intelligence. How do you bring those three things together in a way that’s extremely powerful for people, so that they can be who they came here to be, not who they were told to be?
Benji Block: Yeah, that’s quite the mission because you would say, within those three areas you see a lot of focus books on one of the three but not so much trying to tackle all three.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: It was a gargantuan task, it was not what I set out to do. It just showed up and there I was. I guess I was a willing participant.
Benji Block: Well, take me down that journey a little bit more then because then, you have to – in order to go from this big dream to a focus and actual the end product, this book, you’re going one bite at a time, so what’s I guess step one for you?
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: There have been several catalysts in my life. I was born deathly ill and I wasn’t supposed to survive, but I did, and I had long-term implications to my brain from the illness I had, and so I struggled to learn. Here, when you go to school and everybody’s reading and writing and you’re struggling to do that, it gives you a less-than complex.
So, I became, at a very young age, a lifelong learner and so I would read all sorts of books as a child trying to figure out how do I have better handwriting, how do I write better letters, how do I – and I can tell you, when I was nine, 10, 11, 12, even in law school, when I went to law school, I struggled to write. So being a writer was always never even in my mind back then because I just struggled so much to do those things because of brain damage from this illness.
This need to learn and to understand, right? A catalyst as a child and then, in 1998, my father passed away and after his death, I just had this deep longing and calling coming from inside that said, “You’re supposed to be doing something, what is it?” About six weeks after my dad’s death, I was sitting with my mother at dinner one evening and I said, “Mom” at this point, that voice inside had gotten so loud and so compelling that I had to say it to somebody, right?
I could no longer contain that with inside of me and I said to mom, I said, “Hey, you know, I feel like I should be doing something but I don’t know what it is” and she said, “Wow, you know, your dad used to say the same thing.” I said, “Really? Wow, when?” and she said, “Right up until he died.” I cannot explain what happened inside of me in that moment beyond a choice of, “I am not going to die and not know that I came here and lived what I was supposed to be living.”
I don’t want that for me and I don’t want that for my children and so I set off on this journey of understanding of human endeavors. So that was the catalyst, right? So we’re talking from 1998 to 2022. So 24 years of searching out there, I call it, 20 years in the desert, right? Searching for water, for my soul, and this book, I think, is the end product of all of that searching.
Benji Block: So when you work on this project in particular, do you imagine yourself 24 years ago? Do you imagine someone who is currently really aware of the fact that they’re in a desert season, is there someone that comes to mind that you’re going, “This is who I want to read it?”
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: No. And part of the burning desire to get to this, what I’m hoping, you know, you and I were chuckling about it before the podcast started, what I’m hoping is the last book I’ll ever write, right? The burning desire came from that question I kept asking, but what happened is I went out in the world and couldn’t find answers.
I thought this was going to be a simple thing. “Oh, somebody’s written a book on purpose with a map and they’re going to say, you’re here, go three steps forward, take two steps to the left, one step forward and there’s your purpose” and that doesn’t exist. I wanted a roadmap from point A to point D that showed me where I would hit B and C.
Now, I’ve read over 2,000 books trying to find that answer. I got a PhD in leadership trying to find that answer. I’ve got certifications that range from kettlebells to Himalayan singing bowls to past life regressions, right? I tell people, you hold a workshop and charge $125, I don’t care what it is, I’ll show up.
Benji Block: You got one attendee.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: That’s right. But all of that, trying to solve the mysteries of enlightenment or the best self, there’s all sorts of terminology out there for what we’re searching for, I never imagined being here, that’s for sure.
Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Balance
Benji Block: Well, let’s talk about some of the content. I want to start, because we’ve thrown around already in these first few minutes, emotional intelligence, and you talk about emotional balance, but what in your mind is that all encompass? Maybe starting with a definition to get us all in the same page, and then I think the other interesting piece of this would be, do you see generally this term being used in a way that maybe people misunderstand it or don’t fully get the depth of it.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: All wonderful questions and I think as simplistic, and when I say simplistic, things can be simple but still be complicated, right? So there’s a lot packed behind what I love as a definition of emotional intelligence, which is emotional intelligence is the ability to handle my emotions and your emotions in a conversation and still both walk away without either of us feeling marginalized or minimized. We’re just not really capable across society from top to bottom and our ability to do that.
Benji Block: It almost feels like, we have a hyper awareness or I see this where we’re aware of or want to become aware of our emotions but maybe not as much on how that plays with others, and so there’s like a 50 percent of the equation that’s part of the cultural conversation but maybe not that other side.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Part of that is our own awareness about how we show up. The truth of who we are versus – and so in the book, I talk about, what’s underneath emotional intelligence and I call that emotional balance and for me, I’ve been certified in some other emotional intelligence items and as a systems thinker, which I mentioned before, I want to find the root cause.
I want to get to the bottom of what’s creating those, what I call outputs of emotional intelligence. And those outputs are things like, are you positive, are you optimistic, are you self-aware? Those are the end results of what’s happening inside of us and so, I wondered, if I lift the hood up on all those characteristics or traits, what am I going to see? That’s where emotional balance comes in.
Emotional balance happens when—and I talk about this in the book—we as children and I joke, no one gets out of childhood unscathed, we all get hurt and what happens is, because we’re not old enough and don’t have the skillsets to process what happens to us, we get marginalized unintentionally and we get marginalized in two areas: love and power.
So, we developed bruised emotional imprints, one is around love and one is around power and so, emotional balance is when we are operating from balance for both love and power when we engage the world. Whether that be someone via Facebook, someone via a letter or face to face, right? How do we have these balanced engagements with the world? The book talks about how do we move toward balance for both love and power?
Love and Power
Benji Block: Interesting. The loved one seems, at least to me, a bit more intuitive, like that’s a natural, the childhood wound around love. Can you talk about the power one a bit more there?
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Sure, the premise of the book is that there’s an unwritten rule of life that we all live by and the systemic can’t talk today. The systemic influences of our lives that’s family, that’s culture, that’s friends, teachers, right? Those systemic influences teach us, “It’s not safe to be who I am so I must be something else and the system will dictates what that is” right?
So we all get the, “You know, I’m not lovable” right? But when the system takes away our right to choose, because that’s what power is. See, part of the development of this book Benji, is I realized that we don’t understand love and power. We think love is a feeling when it’s an actual way of being and we think power is control when in fact, power is about our right to choose what we do in any moment. That whole equation.
So I created an assessment to go along with the book called, the emotional state indicator ,and what happens is I noticed that a lot of people have worked it through therapy and counseling, coaching, whatever tools or mechanism they used, whatever people they saw, we do work on that unlovable self.
I saw that showing up a lot when I called the love imprint or the love indicator was far more balanced than the power, and that’s because we don’t go to therapy over power. We’ll go to therapy over love, we’ll go to a coach over love and so power is sort of been this left out piece of the conversation.
Benji Block: That is so fascinating to me because that is my story.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Tell me more.
Benji Block: Well, I’m just fascinated by the way that you broke that down because I love by upbringing but grew up in a very religious home and so power was always something that was given to something you couldn’t see, God, right? God had a purpose for your life and these moments were going to happen and some of that language I still very much value, but I noticed that an output of that way of thinking was that I felt powerless to actually choose for myself.
Probably in the last about, I guess 24 months since COVID hit, just went on a journey personally of being like, “Woah, how much power have I given up or almost like defaulted on that I had the whole time?” Because yes, there is an element to life that you aren’t in control of, but we are far more in control of things than we realized but we default out of that, or I did, I’ll only speak for me there.
So I am glad I went down that road with you for a second because you just clicked some things into gear because you’re right, I’ve gone to therapy but I did not go to therapy for power. I went to therapy for love.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Yes, so power is this misunderstood and this huge misunderstood dynamic happening in the world and there are so many things about this book, Benji, that broke me, right? The universe feels very adamant that I must live and experience everything I write about.
Benji Block: It’s not right.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: I guess that makes me a better teacher of these things because it’s not me sitting on the back porch dreaming up things to write about. These are things that I am experiencing in the world. So when I was working on the model of emotional balance that exists in the book, I got to the very end, right? My idea of the way that we developed is in a spiral of complexity, and in that spiral of complexity there are two poles.
One is adapted identity and the other is true nature, and adapted identity is who we are because that’s who were told to be around love and power, and so as we move up the spiral of complexity, we have to unravel those dynamics we were taught about love and power. So that when we get to true nature, we’re in balance for love and power. When I got there, I had this, “Whoa, oh my goodness, I see the truth” and I just lost myself for a couple of days grieving for my new understanding and what it made me lose about the way I thought the world was.
What it showed me Benji was, we have never understood love and power. We mistake the dynamics of control through adoration, money, sex, anger as love and power, and they aren’t.
Benji Block: So when you have this realization, I mean, you realized they aren’t but what’s the flipside of that? Where do you start going further into going, “Okay, this is what” like flip that on its head for a second?
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: So yeah, that you are a magical creative ball of energy with infinite possibilities, unlimited joy, unlimited abundance and good health or your birth right, but we’re busy playing these game of these dynamics that we think are love and power and they are just sending us in the wrong direction.
Benji Block: It’s funny because when we think of our childhood, we think of playing games, right? Playing house, playing all of these stuff. In reality, there is an abundance of joy there, often times because you are most present in life and then as you get older, you see all these games other people are playing and you start to assume that that’s what real life looks like.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: We are taught imbalanced dynamics. That’s why it’s about emotional balance. We have to undo these imbalanced dynamics, we have to step outside of them and allow them to rest in the system where they belong, right? Where they belong is with the person who told us that, when it wasn’t the truth. This doesn’t make anybody bad, this model is not about bad, wrong, horrible, black, white, ugly, beautiful.
It is about being in balance and part of that is letting those polarities rest, and it is really about in love, it is the state of being where you have absolute reverence for everything. And the power indicator, when it is fully balanced, is about choosing from your unique individuality, right? Only the gifts and talents you have. Choosing to partner from that place with infinity to create amazing things that bring you joy and make the world a better place.
Benji Block: Wow, okay so coming from that, and switching gears just slightly, you talk about transformation and it almost sounds like you were having one of those transformational moments, and you’re waking up and realizing this and writing it, but you talk about the need for a transformation, for it to occur, you have to take advantage of what you call emotional openings.
You say, “Emotional openings form when space is created in a moment that if taken advantage of, allows you to see, know or feel the world in a new way.” Maybe give me some examples of like what is emotional openings look like.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Sure, that’s so lovely. So thank you for asking that question because I think it is one of the most profound pieces of the book. So what happens between adapted identity and making your way to true nature is there are emotional opening, you read the definition, these are spaces that occur. If we can take advantage of them, we transform and evolve to the next place if that is our desire.
Emotional openings come in different colors, flavors so to speak. One is a forced emotional opening and that’s when we are going so far down the wrong path that the universe devises a massive interrupt for us, maybe, and actually I had this happen to a colleague, it broke my heart for her. She came home, she was washing dishes and her husband walks in and says, “Yeah, I don’t want to be married to you anymore” and he walks out.
That shattered her world. That’s a forced emotional opening and usually, there is some early warning signals that we’re not paying attention to as humans. Part of that is actually a byproduct of the dissertation I wrote on early warning signals when I was getting my PhD. I wanted to understand, what are the early warning signals in organizational crisis? That if we see them, we can take advantage of them, and that’s what this model does, except it applies to human endeavors and human emotional intelligence.
What are the warning signals? I’d like to say that the universe will first whisper in our ear, “Hey Benji, you’re going in the wrong direction” but we’re so busy living life that we don’t hear it and then the universe will say, “Benji” and it will tap on your shoulder, tap-tap-tap, and you don’t hear it because it is still not loud enough to get above the noise of your own life, and then the universe comes along at it whacks you in the back with a two by four and you can’t miss that, right? Benji, I have long been a two by four girl.
Benji Block: Oh, I hate to admit it but I think I have been a two by four man.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Welcome kindred spirit, right? So what I learned is that in the early states of emotional balance, because the noise of our lives are so loud, we usually have to have those forced openings, and then if we begin to evolve, they become softer. We can hear them, we can hear the tap or the whisper, we don’t have to have the two by four. So what I try to do with the model is understand the dynamics taking place in each state.
So that if you can take advantage of what’s happening there with specific tools, and I have designed those as part of this big model, you can use the tool and the natural occurring dynamics of the state so you don’t have to wait for the two by four. That you try to take advantage, for instance, an expression. You know, there is protection, expression integration, silence and oneness and presence and stillness.
Those are the five emotional states. So expression is the second one, what is happening there is we feel empowered. We’re empowered to go out there and see what’s in the world with our name on it instead of waiting for life to be done to us, and so what you want to do is you want to take advantage of those dynamics of a person out there searching for what has their name on it, and so that is where you invite people to find their values.
You invite them to find their strengths because they are open and they’re ready. Does that make sense?
Benji Block: It does make sense and what I love too about podcasting in general, having you break this down here, is this is giving you a flavor for what the book is going to tell you in detail and you are doing such a great job of giving us that view because you are going to need to see the diagram, you are going to need to go into a lot more detail here to fully get it but we’re getting the examples here.
I am getting excited to re-dive in, even though I have already read this, but I just think that makes a lot of sense. I wonder, as we start to kind of tie a bow on this conversation, what would you say to those that maybe are seemingly like on the front end of this journey, right now, looking back 24 years of work, what do you invite people into how do we embrace maybe the current season we’re in and lean into our development?
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: That’s an awesome question and I think the biggest thing is nobody is lost, nobody is damaged goods, nobody is wrong. It’s about finding what works for you without fighting life in the process, and we’re very good at fighting life.
Benji Block: Very good at fighting life is a good way of saying, it’s easy when we’re given opportunity to grow, to just use the language I used earlier, I guess just stick with default, right?
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Right, that is such a beautiful mechanism of self-protection that we all have and that’s why sometimes it has to be the two by four, right? It has to be an interrupt big enough to shake us out of our ruts and grooves. For a section of this book, I did research on curiosity and how important curiosity is to our personal development, because the author noted that we see new things all the time but we don’t do anything about them.
So we have to be curious about why is this happening and, instead of resisting it, “Oh, this again? No way” we have to go, “Huh, how is this for me, instead of being done to me?” and that’s such a huge hurdle for us to overcome.
Benji Block: Well again, this book is called, Emotional Intelligence 3.0: How to Stop Pulling Small in a Really Big Universe. You’ve mentioned there’s a lot of resources that a company this – you have done a lot of work, you have a website like plug that for us to tell us kind of where we can check out all of these resources and go on this journey.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: So, there’s actually three layers to it for organizations who are interested in raising the emotional intelligence of their organization. There is the EI Guides, the Emotional Intelligence Guides and that’s eiguides.com. That is where we service organizations. If you are a coach or a wellbeing professional and you want to learn more about the model by being certified, you can do that at tomibryan.com.
Then, if you are an individual who is a do-it-yourself-er then, tomillama.com has the ten steps to happiness, which is the first two states of emotional intelligence broken down into ten steps.
Benji Block: Great ways in and great ways to start and obviously, we tell people go grab the book on Amazon and read that to get a much more in-depth look of the concepts and the content we were talking about today. Dr. Tomi White Bryan, thank you so much for stopping by Author Hour today. It’s been a pleasure, I could have talked to you for a couple of hours.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Yeah, let’s just stop the thing and talk the rest of the afternoon, right Benji?
Benji Block: Of course. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Dr. Tomi White Bryan: Thank you, I appreciate it. Take care.