Unhappiness, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger, loneliness, confusion, depression, emptiness, disconnectedness – these are all real feelings; and if you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced some or all of these emotions and others as you’ve walked uncertain paths and experienced changes in life.
God made us so that we could feel our feelings; He never intended us to ignore them. We’re natural thinkers. We’re natural feelers, but there are times when these feelings and emotions can disrupt our lives. Perhaps you get a little more anxious or overwhelmed than you should. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If your mind is disrupted by the issues of life, this post is for you. I want to give you practical steps that will help you know how to “keep your heart with all diligence,” or in other words, help you how to control your emotions when you’re living through a difficult time.
There are times that my emotions get a bit carried away. I become agitated, or someone upsets me, and my emotions overwhelm me so that it becomes difficult for me to function mentally. Many times, negative things within me come to the surface that affect the important relationships in my life. I’ve learned that I must control my emotions and not let them control me. I want to give you a few tips that have helped me accomplish this.
1. Ask yourself: What am I feeling?
You’re not going to control or temper anything that you can’t identify. So, ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” Sometimes, it’s hard to name those feelings. I struggle to identify my emotions. I actually have a “feelings chart” in my phone that helps me name the emotions I’m experiencing when I struggle to do so on my own.
Believe it or not, most of us struggle to identify our feelings. It’s important that you take time to name your emotions. If you're aggravated or sad or tired or frustrated, verbalizing what is going on inside of you will help relieve the pressure of what you’re feeling, making those emotions more manageable.
2. Ask God to help.
I often process my emotions in prayer. I’ll figure out exactly what I’m feeling, and I’ll tell God, “Lord, I’m mad. I’m scared. I’m overwhelmed.” I ask God to help me with my emotions. The reason that naming the issues you are struggling with is so important is that the brain loves for you to identify what’s going on inside of you. Just by verbalizing those feelings to yourself and to God will help bring order to your chaotic emotions.
3. Get back to your normal routine.
After you identify your emotions and pray about them, try your best to go about your normal routine. I’m not saying you need to ignore the emotions, but many times emotions are fluid and will dissipate with time. If you’re not experiencing intense emotions, then it’s not worth spending extra time dwelling on them. By naming those emotions and moving on with life, your negative feelings will likely dissipate with no problem and your established structure and routine will help you get through all of the emotions you experience.
However, if these methods don’t work and your anxiety is persistent, then move to Step 4.
4. Ask yourself why.
You feel emotions for a reason. The negative feelings that you’re experiencing are the byproduct of a problem in your life. Maybe you didn't get enough sleep for too many nights in a row, and you're feeling irritated. Perhaps you have to make a life changing decision in the coming days or weeks, and the stress is causing a tremendous amount of worry within you. Maybe you are required to do something that makes you uncomfortable, and you are feeling inadequate.
Your feelings are actually telling you that there’s a problem within you. So, ask yourself, “Why am I feeling this way? Why am I having such a strong emotional response?” Asking yourself these questions will usually bring understanding to what is causing you so much anxiety. Recognizing what is triggering your emotions will often help deflate that stress.
5. Take action.
Once you discover and understand what the source of your stress and anxiety is, you can take action to alleviate it. Maybe you need to simply get more sleep and rest. Fatigue can bring out the worst of our emotions and cause us to be moody and egotistical. Perhaps you need to apologize to those closest to you who’ve borne the brunt of your emotional distress.
If you’ve been delaying making an important decision which has caused you unnecessary stress, try applying the “70% rule” to the situation. Evaluate the decision you want to make. If you're 70% sure it's the right decision, then pull the trigger on that decision.
If you'll do what's necessary to assess the causes of your emotional distress and work to solve the root of those problems, your stress and anxiety will decrease. If you can’t do anything about the issues that are contributing to that stress and anxiety, move to step six.
6. Resource from others.
If you've read many of my posts, you know that I strongly advocate for having a support team and resourcing from other people for emotional regulation and energy. If you're not able to get your emotions under control yourself with the first five steps, then it's important that you're able to get help from the safe people in your life.
You probably don’t need your safe person to give you advice. You might not need them to suddenly become your counselor. You more than likely just need someone that can be there for you and listen to you vent about what you're going through.
In the Bible, Job endured some incredibly tough circumstances. In Job Chapter 2, Job’s friends saw his anguish and poor emotional state. His friends sat with him without even saying a word for seven days and seven nights. Scripture says, “. . . for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). Often, all we need to help us overcome our emotional distress is to know that someone is there with us and understands what we’re feeling.
I want you to know that these steps really do work. They’re biblical, and they can help you successfully navigate the tough circumstances of life. I hope that these six steps can help you regulate your emotions and bring order to your feelings.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.