To say I am an emotional person is an understatement. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve and it shows in my eyes, face and mannerisms. Being emotional in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It means you are human. It means you feel. It means you have a compassionate heart. But where does it cross the line from emotionally healthy release … to emotionally wanting recognition? It begins with your own heart. It begins with holding the key to your own happiness. It begins with not allowing outside circumstances or people to let your emotions fluctuate like the waves of the sea; being tossed this way and that from moment to moment and situation to situation. That is easier said than done, and I know that better than anyone. I let my emotions lead last night when my “wants” did not get what they “need”. It was an ugly (and very unnecessary) waste of effort and time. So, let’s look at how we can still feel and express and react the way our heart and mind lead us to, but curb those emotions to make sure what we feel and think aligns with what God says and not what the world prompts.
- The first thing we can do is stop … and breathe. When a situation or circumstance hits we do not have to react immediately. Believe it or not, we can train ourselves to have some pause space between action and reaction. When something happens or a thought traps your mind, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. This will allow your mind to calm and your body systems to start combating the stress and anxiety. Often, the outcome will be deescalated and you may have a fresh view on what is happening or the core reason why you are reacting that way. Proverbs 29:11 (VOICE) tells us, “A fool does not think before he unleashes his temper, but a wise man holds back and remains quiet.“. We are wise to heed those words.
- Once you have allowed that pause space, pick up some Scriptures to recite out loud (if you are in an appropriate place) or to yourself by allowing your brain to whisper them into your heart. I recommend you ALWAYS keep a miniature Bible in your purse/car or a Bible reading app on your phone. That way it is always there when you need strength, wisdom and guidance. This can be a simple 5 minute period of time, but allow yourself to really focus on every single word and allow it to penetrate your soul. The Word of God is always our greatest armor! 1 Chronicles 16:11a (MSG) reminds us of this mighty tool available for us at all times: “Study God and his strength, seek his presence day and night;…“
- Eat crow. You read that right … apologize and admit when you have been wrong in your actions or reactions. If you reached the responding point before your reminder of ‘breathe and read’ came into play, then simply be bold enough to admit that you are human, that you were wrong, and acknowledge that every mistake is a chance to grow and learn. People love you. People understand. An apology goes a long way, and likely, it will gain you more understanding than avoidance or brushing it under the rug ever will. Be humble and give yourself room for imperfectness—but always, always set things right. The point blank way the GNT version puts it in Leviticus 5:5 says, “When you are guilty, you must confess the sin.” I think that about says it all!
Had I done the above three things last night, I would likely have shown this person a lot more grace and allowed Jesus to carry my broken feelings for me, instead of sending that text (you know, the one you CAN’T retract once “send” has been hit) and allowing the other person’s actions to make me feel insignificant and burdensome. We are not perfect … we never will be. But we can be intentional works-in-progress and let each situation allow us to examine our hearts so we can do our best to improve the way we behave and react in the future. Mindfulness is what we essentially are seeking. Mindfulness of what is stirring in our own hearts and souls that causes us to behave the way we do, and mindfulness of how our attitudes and reactions to the things that happen will impact others. Let’s choose kindness, gentleness and forgiveness—allow that pause space, and let God fill our emotional wanting with emotional fulfillment and things that will improve each situation and its outcome.