Are your emotions empowered or on the edge?
Life can present us with a plethora of situations, scenes and the many emotions that accompany each of these circumstances. How can we affectively do our best to navigate situations successfully and traverse all the emotions that accompany us on each trip? I don't have an exhaustive list however I've experienced a few things that have helped me along the way and now I know we can successfully navigate our emotions with the right tools.
As a believer, prayer is key and a key to living above anything that is trying to render you powerless. Prayer is talking to God honestly and prayer is entering a relationship with God. Prayer is focusing on something you want to happen while being grateful and believing like it already happened. Prayer is speaking your truth to God and as a result having an open heart to be able to receive His truth in your life. Prayer is not denial of the facts but facing the odds with an overcoming faith in God's Word, ability and willingness to intervene in the impossible. Do you regularly get mad or frustrated at small changes and take it out on those around you? Do you consistently bring up old matters in current conversations? Do you just accept the way you feel without questioning why you feel that way? If you answered yes, it may be a good time to work on some new disciplines in this area and eventually create a new emotional lifestyle. When we are at the height of a negative experience or emotion, I recommend acknowledging your emotions and I recommend praying. This blog is not about disavowing negative emotions because we need the experiences they bring, they enlighten us about our responses and they can be the signal that informs us that we need a path of recovery. On the other hand, unhealthy anger, anxiety and other "negative emotions" are all part of the human experience and they can lead to stress and unhealthy belief systems like the ones listed below:
1. It's okay to spew negative emotions on those closest to us
2. It's okay to repress negative emotions causing physical or mental harm to ourselves
3. "I'm okay, I don't need help, I just have to be strong and things will change sometime in the future"
4. Talking about how I feel is wrong or bad, If I hold it in it will work itself out
5. God will work it out
A better approach: manage your emotions without denying them. Acknowledge your emotions to receive the message they are trying to send and ultimately prevent wreaking havoc in your relationships. The reason I recommend prayer is that scientifically speaking, Dr. Andrew Newberg (www.andrewnewberg.com/reserch), led the study in which MRI brain scans proved that there is power in prayer or meditation. The study also found that prayer is much like a physical workout for the brain. Would you agree, it is important how we choose to give our brains a workout? The brain is constantly rewiring itself for better or for worse depending on the information we feed it on a regular basis. I don't know about you, but I believe life can be hard enough on its own I don't need to add fuel to my fire by consistently being negative or mishandling my emotions. Feed your brain the good stuff!
I wish I'd read a blog like this in my teen-age years, when I think back I was so closed to the idea of sharing my feelings, for many dysfunctional reasons and feeling like I had to be perfect all the time-I repressed a lot of emotion. In addition to this I have always been an observer and a discerner so while I may not have said much, I was always watching people and circumstances and since I didn't talk much about what I saw I most likely carried alot of unneccessary baggage.The problem with this for kids is they lack the wisdom and ability to rightly divide a situation- so they need emotionally healthy and discerning adults to ask a lot of questions even if it gets on the kid’s nerves! Oh, bless the day when I experienced the freedom of taking off the mask of having to be perfect and being able to express myself! Expressing your emotions and creativity in healthy ways is good for the soul. In the words of songwriter Charles Wright, "Express Yourself! (Warner-Chappelle Music)"
Do I believe we will get this right 100% time? No. However I do believe that we can work
towards success the other percentage of the time. In addition to scientific proof of prayer we also have the experiential proof that prayer works! I may not totally understand the scientific findings but I know for myself that prayer works! We can work toward successfully managing negative emotions through the practice of prayer. In the verse, Philippians 4:6-7 (biblegateway.com) it says, "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done." The verse admonishes us to pray, ask God for what we need and be grateful, simple and plain, then why does it feel so hard? The "key" word in the last sentence is "feel" it feels hard because we have not decided to make a continuous effort stop allowing our emotions to lead. While our emotions are important and key to our existence when they tend to bring about negative or harmful results it is likely we need to get to the root cause or get some help to assist in navigating the choppy waters of trauma or overwhlem. I am a witness that prayer can bring about a more consistent peaceful state whereas the result of playing out negative emotions can cause us to feel as though we are being pulled in different directions (pieces) instead of experiencing wholeness. Instead of worrying, pray, ask God for what you need and maintain an attitude of gratitude to experience a more peaceful existence.
I know it can be hard when it comes to the choice of believing God's word over the present feeling of emotions- the crucial step is to keep listening to the truth of God's word. Faith comes by hearing, so you strengthen your faith when you constantly read it aloud or listen to it or listen to messages that reinforce your faith. When you fortify your faith- as opportunities present themselves to believe; you are heavily armed with His Word to lean in the direction of choosing the promise over your current pain or problem. Ultimately you will have to decide that high strung emotions, pain or problems will not have the last say. Punch the lights out of the problem through the practice of prayer!
Sometimes we can look at situations and discern whether they could possibly lead into high strung emotions and other times we can be caught off guard. How can we protect ourselves from mismanaging our emotions? Practically, I believe we can stop mismanaging our energy/emotions by being present and taking responsibility. Being in the moment (versus addressing past issues) is proactive because we can control how we choose to respond by thinking about how we respond now and by taking responsibility for our approach and our attitude now. Every encounter we experience is an opportunity to hop off autopilot and respond in a way that builds healthy emotional boundaries for ourselves and those we interact with. If we are thinking too far in the future it can cause anxiety, if we are thinking too far back it can cause regret or depression. This is why it is important to deal with issues as they come up not after you have harbored feelings and they slip out in a conversation that has nothing to do with the present discussion. Think about it, unless you have a time machine you can't change the past nor can you fix the future. So, learning to take responsibility for our present moments, puts us in a better position to respond in a positive light and experience healthy emotions like:
4. Positive validation
Here are a few things I've found helpful for mastering the moment in the space of practicing healthy emotions:
1. Prayer, The Bible and educational materials
2. Master or manage life's moments by living in the present and journaling about them; then repeat
3. Set healthy boundaries for conversations
4. Teach others how you prefer to be treated
5.Take responsibility for your emotions and how you show up in the world
6. Practice modeling healthy emotions
7. Take inventory of negative emotions and get to root causes
8.Speaking up for yourself-affirm your self-worth
9. Ask for help to process your feelings i.e. support group/therapy
10.Understand that there are consequences to unhealthy emotions
11.Check in with yourself on a regular basis to understand your feelings
12. Use the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) as a gauge for measuring attitude and maturity. These can be found in the bible (Galatians 5)
13. Show genuine care and concern for others;resist being critical to prove your point
14. Understand that you are not responsible to montor other people's emotions, nor can you change anyone else
15. Defend your well-being/mental health
16. Be a good listener (or learn to be one)
Emotions are defined as a conscious mental reaction (such as anger or fear) subjectively experienced as strong feeling usually directed toward a specific object and typically accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in the body. The definition infers that in "normal" situations we are wide awake when it comes to our emotions so we can be wide awake when we choose how we are going to react. I truly started to see growth in my life and relationships when I decided to accept the starring role as "gatekeeper" of my thought and emotional life. I believe in some ways we've been hoodwinked or bamboozled into accepting that when life gets tough, we have no control over our responses, but we do, and we are responsible for what comes into our life and what leaves. When we live in this "grey area" of cognitive dissonance (belief systems that do not align with actions) we can sense inner turmoil. I've had this experience in my life, when I was sound and sure about what I believed however my behavior was showing up differently. I did not find peace until I renewed my mind, became steadfast in prayer about the matter and then made the decision to align with my true beliefs and release what I was simply settling for, it wasn't easy but over time, I did it!
That may sound elementary, but sometimes letting go of habits is easier said than done and the human experience can be prone to rationalizing when we want something or have a way of doing things even if they may not be so well-suited for our lives. As well, sometimes things can happen that we have absolutely no control over which can leave us with a barrage of emotions to try and work our way through with no sense of the light of day. It's in these times I would again suggest prayer, laying the burden down as many times as you must until "you" experience peace and maturity in the area of struggle/grief. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us how God feels about us carrying around burdnes," Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." God cares about you and He cares about how you feel.
In addition, find a safe place where you can be honest and share your concerns without being judged so that you can get the help you want and need. It's in our non-judgemental safe-haven's that we can mourn, let go of old beliefs, share our fears, hear new ideas and experience acceptance that results in an understading of our truth and the courage to live out that truth on a daily basis.
I existed for a long time without the true expression of my real attitudes, likes, dislikes, right of expression, influence and impact due to poor decision making, lack of boundaries and mismanaging my emotions. Ironically, it was deep emotional pain that awakened me to a truer version of self and now I no longer hide behind those emotions. Because life is unpredicatable we will always experience opportunities for growth even if they come through negaitve emotions or situations. The Word of God, educational tools and honest support systems can help you "unravel" negative emotions. Ultimately you can express yourself authentically, intelligently, tactfully and without apology which leads to healing and new beginnings. As you continue to be self-aware and take responsibility for your emotions, you will get to enjoy deeper clarity personal and relational fulfillment.
Let Chuck D of Public Enemy enlighten us, here is one of his quotes, "I lost my dad, I miss my Dad. I miss the coversation, he kept me grounded when I was loose. I talked to him for 55 years. The silence is unbelievably powerful and the only way I can deal with it is by filling it - by speaking powerfully." Even if we grew up missing something or we lost something along the way, we have a right to grieve and express our emotions- I believe it best to do it healthy and so we can show up powerfully.
Love, Peace and Rest,
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