Do you ever feel guilty for the way you feel? Do you ever wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I control my emotions?” Or think, “Why am I so angry, sad, or frustrated all the time? I should be happy. I have a good life?”
There is nothing wrong with you. Your emotions are always right. I’m gonna say it again, your emotions are al 👏🏼 ways 👏🏼 right! 👏🏼 Your feelings are a gift from God. You are made to feel what you feel at any given moment. Your emotions are the window to what’s going on inside of you. They’re your soul barometer. It’s not your emotions that are the problem, but the thoughts that are fueling your emotions. When you think a thought, a corresponding feeling is triggered, giving you feedback to either keep going or STOP! something is wrong in here!
Like when you put your hand on a hot stove. You feel pain. The pain you feel isn’t the problem. It’s alerting you of an actual problem. No one ever feels guilty for feeling pain while pressing their hand on the stovetop, because we understand the pain is a gift. Your painful feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, anxiety or depression are doing the same thing for your inner woman or man. They aren’t the problem, they’re the feelings of pain alerting you of an actual problem.
I woke up the other night out of a dead sleep with the simple thought, “What if our attic caught on fire? All our children would die in their sleep before we could save them!” In a split second, I was overcome with physical and emotional panic. To the point that it took me several minutes to get control of my sleep-induced hysteria. I literally had to wake myself up enough to say, “Stop this runaway train right now. Everyone is safe. Now stop thinking about it.” It was really hard to replace my thoughts because something inside of me wanted to keep playing the horror film, to play out the worst-case scenario, but if I want the abundant life Jesus promised me, then I needed to play my part and take those damaging thoughts captive. After a few minutes, I was drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
It’s our thoughts that we need to pay attention to. Thoughts are the naughty brother that quietly pokes his little brother in the back seat until the little brother freaks out. Then your emotions get in trouble for their outburst durning the lovely family outing, and the whole time your thoughts are quietly looking out the window feeling rather smug with himself. My middle of the night panic attack was because my thoughts were the problem, not my emotional response of panic. It’s not our emotions that are out of control. They’re just doing their job, alerting you that there’s something going on inside that you need to pay attention to. It’s the thoughts that wrong — either a made-up story, a lie or an expectation not being met.
So, the next time you’re feeling angry, sad, frustrated, give yourself permission to feel that way. And if you need to, tell whoever’s around you who thinks you’re overreacting. You are not wrong to feel the way you feel in any given situation. If there’s ever a time Matt’s confused by my irrational anger or sadness, I defend my feelings with, “I have every right to feel this way right now! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s no big deal or silly. I can feel this way if I want!”
Then, get to work at paying attention to the thoughts that triggered your emotion. The naughty little thoughts are there, poking you, lurking in the corner. It might take you a day or two. It might even be a thought you’re terrified to admit you thought, but once you locate that naughty little sucker, you need to take control of that thought and replace it with a new life-giving thought. Is your thought a lie? Did you misunderstand someone’s actions, so you took it personally, played an old story of not being good enough, not being worthy enough? Did you make up a fabricated story (ie. my fabricated house fire), and allowed your thoughts to board a runaway train?
Once you discover the problem, you must fix it, like STAT. Write a new story. Think about the truth. Heal an inner wound. Whatever you do, take your thoughts captive. It’s imperative to live an abundant life. You are in control of what lives in your mind. You don’t need to ask Jesus to take control, he’s given you the control. And it’s not your emotions you need to control. It’s your thoughts.
Then, thank your emotions for doing a great job.