Why We Need a New Way of Thinking About Emotions
We have a glass of wine at the end of the day to take the edge off. We take a pill to numb us from whatever’s making us feel bad. We throw ourselves into work to avoid having to come home and deal with the pressures of marriage, finances, parenting. We use phones, gadgets, and games to distract us. We use the television to help us zone-out. It seems we expend so much energy to keep us from feeling anything unpleasant, anything messy, anything real.
The problem is, avoiding our negative emotions doesn’t get rid of the negative emotions. They are always there, right beneath the surface. They do come out – usually in ways we wished they wouldn’t. Over time, it takes exhaustive amounts of energy to get rid of them and yet, they are still never resolved.
Here is an excerpt from my new book, Peace For a Lifetime, that explains why we need a new way of thinking about emotions so we can actually use all of our emotions, even the negative emotions, to work for us instead of against us in our lives.
Most people today believe that all negative emotions are bad. We are supposed to feel good all of the time. If we don’t, we must find a pill or remedy to remove the feeling, so we can get back to normal.
Even in the church, many see positive emotions as divine blessings and negative emotions as spiritual attacks from the enemy. We pray that God will remove, heal, deliver. We long for victory. Few of us stop to inquire about the emotions we are feeling, to lean into them so we can understand them. In doing so, we miss golden opportunities to grow, to learn, and to heal.
For many years, I felt emotions simply happened to me, that I was helpless to do anything with these emotions. I believed emotions were bad, that they were Satan’s attacks over which my only hope was deliverance. When I realized that God created my emotions and experienced emotions Himself, I began to believe there might be a reason for my emotions other than to torment me. Perhaps God understood there was an area in which I needed to grow or heal. Instead of delivering me from the emotion, He wanted me to find healing in that emotion, so I could learn what I needed to learn and ultimately overcome.
My journey here on earth seems to be about growth. Most of our emotional growth happens in the difficult seasons of life. Growth requires friction. Growth requires resistance. Anxiety is part of the growth process. Maybe some amount of anxiety comes from the internal struggle with the unknown, the resistance that is necessary for me to grow strong.
Emotions are not bad. Even negative emotions are not bad. Emotions are part of God’s design to help us navigate the waters of life effectively. Ignoring, numbing, or shaming our emotions leaves us disconnected, wandering, and lost. Understanding how emotions working together with our thinking creates balance and equips us to experience our emotions as wise guides instead of stumbling blocks.
Emotions are a powerful resource. My new book, Peace for a Lifetime, unpacks the purpose of emotions so we are no longer forced to ignore them, numb them, or drown in them. I share simple, practical, life steps that can help you understand the life God desires for you. This material can help you create and experience an indestructible peace – not just for today, not just for tomorrow, you can experience peace…for a lifetime!
Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University. In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues.
Having walked through her own struggles with anxiety, despair, and perfectionism, Lisa enjoys helping others as they explore and discover spiritual and emotional healing in their lives and relationships. You can read more of Lisa’s articles at www.lisamurrayonline.com You can also follow her on Facebook: Lisa Murray, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray.