So funny how silence can feel like a cold, uninviting void or a soft welcoming blanket. Chocolate a calming balm of Gilead or a secret, forbidden indulgence. Children’s laughter a musical joy that sends your heart singing or a rake of noise that boils your irritation. A song can be a warm whimsical welcome to nostalgia or a deep aching remembrance of heartache. Even a hug can become a two-sided coin of acceptance and love or of awkward realization of detachment.
What can make such straightforward things have two totally different outcomes? Well……you……
It’s us, our feelings and memories of feelings that create our world. Even very logical people are susceptible to the human code of emotion. I would argue that our deep emotions make us human. So why is it that we are so confused about what to do with them?
I ponder over this a lot. As a youth I used improper coping mechanisms that buried all negative emotion to the point of becoming blank, unfeeling. I can tell you that I did not feel human, actually life became very meaningless.
Fortunately, I continued my habits of prayer, gospel study, worship and devotions during this difficult time and the right people, experiences, and thoughts were put in my path so that I could find my way out of that dark and dreary waste. God is good.
Once I started allowing myself to feel again it was a bit of a mess. A mess that unfortunately, I still find myself in every now and again. I knew and know that learning to control my emotions did not mean that I would get rid of them or ignore them or belittle myself for them…..I must feel them and deal with them…..Easier said than done.
So, now as I still am working on dealing with negative feelings in a healthy way I find three things that have helped me beyond measure;
– If I am putting God first in my life, it is just easier. I show Him that He is first by reading and studying His words every day, praying daily, going to my Sunday worship services, and trying to do as He would do. Then I have His Spirit to guide me, and I can know the BEST way to deal with an emotion or avoid many negative ones altogether.
- Step Away but don’t Put Away…yet….
– When I’m feeling something negative I try to take a step away from the emotion to look at it, identify it, and see why I would be feeling this way. This helps me see the problem and I can better attack it at its source.
Also, many times I think I am feeling one thing but the root of the problem is really another (anger turning out to be loneliness or mourning, etc)
There are also times when my emotions are so mixed up, usually because other people are involved and I don’t have enough information to come to a conclusion, that I HAVE to put it away or get rid of it altogether. If I think for some reason I will need to analyze the feelings in the future I literally picture putting them in a glass jar and twisting the top on and putting them on a shelf in the corner of my mind. If I don’t see any reason for hanging on to those feelings then I blow them away into the sky and picture them fading away into oblivion. This may seem corny, but it works!
- Make a Plan
-Sometimes we need a game plan.
My biggest downfalls are depressive/discouragement type feelings and anger so when I get inklings of these feelings I first analyze and find the source and then I get to work.
With the “down” feelings I usually find that it’s one of three things, over-worked, under-worked, or comparing. When I’m over-worked, I take a break. When I’m what I call “under-worked”, it means I’m not striving for excellence, just going through the motions and not improving and learning. If this is the case I start the goal-setting and planning and add other interesting and uplifting reading material to my daily study.
Comparing…. Well, this is a hard one. Sometimes it is good, because it makes me realize something I need to improve on. Many times though it’s destructive because I’m comparing the surface level of what I see in someone elses life, with what is most likely one of their strengths, with a deep, down and ugly view of my own life with what is usually one of my weaknesses. This is when I have to slap myself into being realistic, make any changes I think are necessary and turn the rest over to the Lord.
Emotion is a beautiful gift from God. But like everything else, there is opposition. This is necessary, how can we know joy without sorrow? Forgiveness without offense? Love without loneliness? Humility without anger? However, we will decide what becomes of us by how we deal with these complexities of life. For me, there are days when it’s a minute by minute battle of what I will allow to take over my life. But when I put God first, take a step back and make a plan, the battle becomes a mere discussion and my virtue can increase. And that is what I strive for, a virtuous life.
What helps you to deal with the emotions of life?