Have you ever thought specific emotions were unacceptable? You push them down into the dark places like stuffing a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Have you ever found yourself engulfed in emotions?
You can think your way out of a situation, yet your emotions set their hooks into your soul, demanding total allegiance to their point of view.
Emotions are powerful — they propel our lives in many directions.
How do we allow such powerful emotions to direct us as a guide and not dictate our life like a god?
Not too Close; Not too Far
Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller talk about our relationship to our emotions in their exceptional book, Boundaries for Your Soul.
They retool the classic concept of relational boundaries to our emotions, saying that emotions are not helpful when we're detached (too far) or enmeshed (too close) with them. In both cases, our emotions hold more power over us than they ought.
Emotions are guides that help us understand what we value and want out of life when we relate to them rightly.
Bringing Emotions Into Focus
Standing too far or too close to our emotions keeps us from focusing on them appropriately.
Here are some questions to help bring your emotions into proper focus (these and more can be found in Boundaries for Your Soul):
Where do I feel this emotion in my body?
Does an image come to mind as I think about the feeling?
Does an inner script (a story I tell myself) come to mind?
How do I feel about this emotion?
These are a few examples of questions we can ask ourselves to right-size our emotions and bring them into focus.
Why Does This Matter?
If we're too close or too far from our emotions, they control us.
Yet that doesn't make emotions evil. Quite the opposite, God created our emotions to guide us toward what we think and feel about the actual life we're living.
Let's learn to listen to them. Consider David's counsel about our emotions.
"Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent." - Psalm 4:4
Paying attention to our emotions without reaction and pondering those emotions with God can lead to a deeper and fuller life.
David goes on to tell us the result of such pondering of our emotional state.
"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." - Psalm 4:7-8
Why does this matter? Because joy and peace are on the line.
If you want to learn more about this way of relating to your emotions, I'd highly encourage you to pick up Boundaries for Your Soul.
Want help growing in emotional and spiritual health? Trying to discern a big life decision or overcome a challenging obstacle? Want to be closer to Jesus? Interested in coaching or a workshop for your team? I can help.