Mercy Christian Wellness Ministries
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Counselor's Corner

MANAGING YOUR EMOTIONS

Posted by mercycounseling on October 22, 2018 at 1:25 PM

Managing Your Emotions

According to the Collins online dictionary, “An emotion is a feeling such as happiness, love, fear, anger, or hatred, which can be caused by the situation that you are in or the people you are with. They are the part of a person's character that consists of their feelings, as opposed to their thoughts.”


Emotions are a way in which our unconscious mind interprets the world. They are prompted in response to stored memories. As the brain processes the continuous flow of external and internal stimuli, it compares that incoming information to the stored memories of previous experiences, which include what happened and how we responded. It also accesses memories related to personal values and beliefs. When the unconscious mind has finished evaluating and connecting these memories to the present situation, it sends a signal to your amygdala (a tiny organ in the brain that processes emotions), and the amygdala signals the emotional response to the conscious mind. In effect, your unconscious mind creates a simulation. This process happens so fast that we often think the emotion precedes the thought, but it doesn’t. The unconscious thought and value judgment happen before we become aware of a conscious emotional response. Emotions are, therefore, a product of our thinking.


Uncontrolled thinking leads to uncontrolled emotions. In her book, Switch On Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf addresses the value of disciplining the mind: “Getting your thoughts disciplined and under control is one of the first steps in freeing yourself of the burdens of the world and beginning to enjoy life despite the burdens of the world.”79 When we relive memories and their attendant emotions over and over in our mind (whether bad or good), we increase the likelihood that our unconscious mind will form a simulation from those memories and emotions whenever we are in a similar situation.


We all experience emotions and become physically aroused by them. Because they are formed from memories, values and perceptions, we need to check the validity of negative emotions by comparing them to our present situation before we translate them into action (except in the case of real, imminent danger—our fight or flight response).


Assuming you are not in a life-and-death situation, it is a good idea to re-evaluate on a conscious level what your mind has determined on an unconscious level. Remember, the unconscious mind only deals with past experiences, which may not be fully applicable to the situation at hand. In other words, you need to consider the current, objective truth. Objectivity will give you a healthy perspective on life and alleviate much of the pain caused by inappropriate or unresolved emotions. God’s Word is the most objective truth of all, and I encourage you to search the Scriptures for answers when emotions threaten to derail you.


It is interesting that the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the spirit” described in Scriptures correlate to negative and positive emotions, respectively:


Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; (Galatians 5:19-21)


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22)

 

Sometimes people struggle to understand and describe the emotions they are feeling. There are many different shades of the same emotion. Below is a chart showing six major subdivisions designed to help you interpret your emotions. The list is not exhaustive, and some of the specific emotions fit into more than one category. You can decide how these relate to your experiences.


Anger: Annoyed, Bitter, Bored, Disdain, Disgust, Envious, Frustrated, Furious, Hurt, Irritated, Jealous, 

Resentful, Suspicious, Tense

Fear: Anxious, Confused, Insecure, Nervous, Scared, Self-conscious, Tense, Terrified, Trapped, 

Worried, Shocked, Uncomfortable

Shame: Embarassed, Foolish, Inadequate, Self-conscious, Silly, Stupid, Worthless

Joy: Comfortable, Content, Happy, Hopeful, Inspired, Loving, Peaceful, Proud, Satisfied, Relieved

Grief: Depressed, Despair, Heartache, Lonely, Lost, Miserable, Overwhelmed, Sad

Excitement: Amazed, Determined, Eager, Energetic, Motivated


Can you add any words to the lists?


Susan A. Haberkorn, Ph.D., NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor

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