In my last letter I explained that emotions aren’t wrong, rather it’s what we do with our emotions that can be wrong. After all, emotions are merely the experience of our thoughts. They should not initiate our actions, but rather be treated as indicators to what is happening in our souls. Which leads us to soul-searching.
Back to our brownie analogy, when you feel the heat you need to register what that heat is and where it’s coming from. In other words, upon feeling heat you instinctively know that you forgot hot mitts. Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t instinctively understand the thoughts sparking our emotions. So, some soul-searching is required.
Emotions are like the security system of our souls.
STEP 1: Identify your emotion
Emotions are real things. They are like the security system to our souls. When burglars are attempting to break into our home we don’t ignore the alarms. In the same way when our emotions begin to boil within us living in denial of our feelings doesn’t make the burglars or emotions go away. So, be brave. Be willing to turn on the lights in your soul and see what’s threatening to break in.
Let’s use last week’s assignment for your speaking class as an example:
There’s no way I’m not posting the link to my intro to a professional speaking forum. I’m scared!
This is the burglar that’s about to break in – fear.
STEP 2: Define your emotion
Once we know what’s trying to break in we need to know why. Is the burglar trying to steal possessions or life?
Zach Brittle explains it perfectly in relation to emotions on Verily Magazine:
…you have to do the work of getting past the first feeling and describing it more fully. The first emotion you feel is often the most powerful but the least true. When your impulse is anger, you need to do the work of describing it more accurately so that you can move to a more useful emotion. I may actually be feeling jealous, embarrassed, worried, anxious, hurt, or ashamed.
This is where we register reality so that we can respond, or where we, as Christians, seek to bring our thoughts into obedience to Christ. Now, that we know the emotion is fear I need you to describe your initial emotion more fully by asking yourself, “Why am I scared? What am I afraid of?”
I’m scared because professional speakers will see how good I’m not. They will tear up my speech and think I’m void of potential.
These are the thoughts that initiated your fear: possibly not being approved of, receiving discouraging criticism, which could result in your dreams of being a professional speaker being dashed.
When we live aware of reality
instead of denying the alarms set off by burglar emotions
we are able to respond appropriately.
When we live aware of reality instead of denying the alarms set off by burglar emotions we are able to respond, but more on that in my next letter. Until then, remember: Emotions aren’t wrong. It’s what we do with them that can be wrong. So when you feel the heat of emotions stop and think I.D. 1) Identify your emotion. 2) Define your emotion.
P.S. What is one emotion you have felt recently? Define it.