When Emotions Lie

Emotions are what make us human; they let us know we are alive, they warn us of danger and allow us to feel and express joy. They are incredibly important. The same way that physical pain indicates that something is not right with our bodies, emotions signal what is going on in our lives. They allow us to empathise and connect with people.

Emotions do something your brain cannot; they speak the language of the heart. But it’s also true that the ‘the heart is deceitful above all things’ (Jeremiah 17:9). Which means that emotions in and of themselves are not wrong because we were created to feel, but they aren’t always right either. So, where the heck does that leave us?

I’m pretty familiar with the subject of feelings – I’m the emotional junkie that wrote this post! I feel a lot and I feel intensely, and that’s how I’ve learnt that sometimes emotions lie. When I was in a relationship this was most evident. I would get upset often about both big and little things, and before I knew it, I was spending most of my life in a bad mood. I was letting the way I felt control me and my relationship, and it’s no way to live.

One day I had a revelation that just because I felt something, it didn’t mean my reasons for being upset were legitimate or valid. Obvious as it may be, this was news to me. I thought that because I was upset, the person involved was in the wrong. It was automatic in my mind: it’s them, not me. I have been wronged, I would think. The truth (a lot of the time) was that I had a certain belief or selfish desire, and because that wasn’t fulfilled, I was frustrated/angry/hurt.

Sometimes it’s you in the wrong, plenty of times it isn’t. Often we are wronged against and our emotions are what so significantly signal that. Our core beliefs lead us to an emotional response in each situation, but often those exact core beliefs are subconsciously selfish or unfair. If we don’t want to be ruled by our emotions, it’s necessary to evaluate ourselves and our emotions on a regular basis.

Talking it out to someone or constantly asking questions of ourselves are good ways to do this. Good questions to ask:

Am I being unreasonable? Why do I feel this way? Is this feeling valid or am I exaggerating? What is wrong with this situation?

It’s like having an argument with a person, except this argument is with yourself. Because you can change yourself and no one else, so you may as well get started. There is no step-by-step guide to assessing this and you just need to pray for wisdom and guidance with each situation. Humility helps, a lot!

Emotions aren’t wrong; it’s what we do with them that can become wrong. Ignoring, harboring or releasing them destructively will harm yourself more than anyone else.

Anger can become bitterness and unforgiveness.

Sadness can become depression.

Annoyance can become constant irritation and unhappiness.

But they don’t have to. Open your heart and your mind. Refuse to let emotions rule you and ask yourself ‘why do I feel like this, and is it justified?’ Sometimes in the height of an argument or situation, we can’t see the woods from the trees, but take a moment to step back and be sure that your emotions aren’t lying to you.

What do you think about emotions? Do you agree that they don’t always tell the truth of a situation? Share in the comments.

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Confession: I can’t fix myself & I don’t know everything

I like to think I’m pretty emotionally stable. I process my emotions, I don’t run away (I try not to anyway) and I cry a lot.  I’ve even been known to call myself a ‘self-analysing pro’ because I can come up with a reason for every single one of my behaviours. I’ve got my sh*t sorted right?

Wrong. Turns out I am somewhat of an ’emotional perfectionist’ (self-diagnosed, of course. See previous paragraph!). No but seriously, I like to be so in control of my feelings and know exactly why I do everything that I don’t let things happen organically.

This is my greatest blessing and my greatest curse, because while I’m very emotionally ‘in-touch’ (are you loving all this psycho-babble?) I also over-think to the point of insanity and exhaustion.

When I talk to my friends I like to sound like I’ve got it all together. Then in the dark of the night I break down, because emotions and grief work on their own schedule that you can’t really control. Turns out being human has some painful disruptions, and I don’t have my sh*t sorted at all. 

So I told my over-active mind to go on holiday and called in a professional.

Yes, I’ve started seeing a counsellor; someone who has qualifications and actually knows what he is talking about; someone who can help me fix me so I don’t have to do it all by myself.

I went to my first session with a heavy heart; I was sad, lonely and running on empty. On the journey there I prayed ‘Please Lord let this be good for me, let me gain something from this because I’m spent and don’t have any strength left’. God heard me. I sat there and released months worth of tear-stained words to someone who is paid to listen to me. I didn’t feel guilty for ‘dumping’ on him, I just went for it (pray for him, poor guy!). He helped me reach some important conclusions in that very first session and I  left feeling so light I thought I might just fly.

The second session was a little harder, grittier and a hell of a lot more painful. That’s when the good stuff happens though and hey, I’m still alive. During these sessions my pain is justified, understood and accepted, but our (my counsellor’s and mine) ambition is my healing and I’m not allowed to sit in my pain and pity for longer than necessary. I must keep moving forward.

I’d rather be dealing with this at 22 than at 42, 52, 62 when I’ve caused other people pain from my own wounded heart. Have you heard? Hurt people hurt people. All of my hurt has come from hurt people, and out of that hurt I’ve hurt more people. It’s a vicious cycle, BUT I have the power to break it and it’s my choice whether I do or not. No I won’t ever be perfect but the goal isn’t perfection, it’s wholeness in Christ so that I’m not operating everyday life out of brokenness.

You might be thinking ‘gosh she is so honest, telling the blogosphere she is screwed up enough to go to counselling’. If it helps you, then heck yes I am honest enough. Frankly we are all screwed up at least a tiny bit, even if we like to act like we’re not. It’s what makes us beautifully human. 

Here’s a tip sponsored by moi: if you have faced trials in the past that you still haven’t overcome, or if you’ve never been to a counsellor, or just think it would be good for you, then go and talk to someone. Who knows, you may only need one session, or you’ll need loads. Whatever the case, deal with your pain so that it doesn’t deal with you. Also I personally think that if you’re in a relationship then it’s even more important; there is a lot of stuff that comes up when we share our lives intimately with someone, and sometimes they can’t carry our baggage. Oh and because I don’t like to leave anyone out: if you really are emotionally stable and this doesn’t apply to you, then that is great and feel free to ignore this paragraph!

All this was to say it’s nice not having to figure everything out by myself. Yes I still have to think, feel, process. However I am externalising it in a healthy environment instead of running circles in my mind. Oh and in case you were wondering, my over-active mind came back from her holiday and then handed in her notice of resignation. Turns out I don’t need her anymore, anyway!

If you can closely relate to the above and need to talk to someone about it, then feel free email me. Sometimes it’s just nice knowing someone understands and is there to listen.