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.