Thought: How We Treat Our Emotions   4 comments

We all know we have some influence over our emotions, and there are various reasons we may find it beneficial in particular situations to manipulate our emotions: if emotions are impairing our functioning on some crucial matter, if we cannot control our expression of emotion and that expression is damaging others, if we don’t have enough space (time, safety, etc.) to process our feelings just now.  In such cases we are not ignoring our feelings or pushing them away, but we are asking them to wait for a bit until we can address them.

If as a rule we listen and support our feelings and what they are telling us, then the exceptions I suggested above won’t undermine our spirits.  If as a rule we try to control our emotions instead of listening to them empathically, it is as healthy as trying to control your spouse—the more “successful” you are at this effort, the more damage is done.  It took me a very long time to begin to deal with my emotions based on the principles of grace instead of the principles of law.

I can manipulate my emotions by suppressing them or by aggravating them and neither approach is healthy.  It is one thing to listen graciously and patiently to my anger until it has told me all it needs to say; it is quite another to pump up my anger.  When I use various means to exacerbate my feelings, I am being just as untrue to my genuine emotions as when I refuse to hear them.

I find that the best question to ask myself regarding my feelings and my response to them is “why?”  Why do I feel so angry?  Why do I feel the need to stimulate them further?  I used to ask myself these questions in condemnation, just as my irate mother used to ask us: “What is WRONG with you?!”  This was not asked in a comforting way to find and relieve our suffering.  The natural follow up to such a question was, “Just stop it!”  And that really was my attitude towards my own feelings.


When I was in India, I kept throwing my unwanted emotions out the back door, only to realize too late that it was not the back door, but the closet door, and the shelves collapsed under the weight of my ignored emotions, driving me into deep depression.  Trust me, when you ignore or shame your emotions, it does not fix them or get rid of them, it just forces them to keep working behind the scenes where they sicken and weaken your spirit.


4 responses to “Thought: How We Treat Our Emotions

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  1. Thanks for sharing this! I can relate and really want to ensure I address my and my kids’ emotions in a healthy way. Thanks for reiterating the dangers when we are not diligent to do so! I especially like the last paragraph. 🙂

  2. Thank you, for sharing!

  3. Pingback: As I Was Saying… « Janathan Grace Reflections

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