(Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash)
On Sunday I got to speak about emotions. I spoke from what I'm learning in psychology, in the Bible, as well as in my experience, and tried to draw them all together. In the end I put together 3 key things to know about emotions:
1. Emotions are created by God: they are not to be feared nor shunned.
2. Emotions have a function: they have a place in our life, and that is to give us a link to
the values that we hold.
3. The end-product of emotions is behaviour: the function of emotions is to help us arrive
(For a fuller explanation of these 3 points, you can listen to the podcast at bit.ly/2TApvvy)
In this post I want to build on those 3 points about what emotions don't do.
1. Emotions do not articulate what values they are drawing from.
Emotions are feelings, and they do not have words. It is our thinking; our awareness that allows us to put words to our feelings. If we do not bring our emotions and thinking together, we won't know what value we are basing our decision on.
This might not be a problem when it comes to small decisions that do not have a large impact on our lives, but it can be a real problem when it comes to complex decisions! Why? Keep reading on...
2. Emotions do not tell you which value is truly more important to you when conflicting values are activated.
In complex situations, multiple values can be activated and be in conflict with each other. The example I gave of fried chicken on Sunday is not even that complex but there can be different values attached to that situation. I could be in a stressful situation and really want comfort food to feel better. I could also have recently decided that I needed to clean up my eating having learnt that it is affecting my energy level. I could have recently been told that I'm looking a little heavier and I didn't feel good about myself.
What tends to happen in such a situation is the value that is MOST OFTEN used is the one that sits most clearly in our emotions. In the situation above, if I had not been actively working on eating clean and losing weight, my comfort food value would most likely be the one pinging away in my emotions. My emotions won't tell me that clean eating should be the value I hold as most important in this situation. I need my mind to help me sort my values out. Which brings me to my 3rd point.
3. Emotions do not fall in line easily with new values.
Emotions use the route of most use. A new value requires a new route, and values take time to learn the new route. In the meantime, while you're trying to live out your new value, your emotions can seem to be fighting you every inch of the way. Addictions are an example of this. They aren't easy to change because the desire for whatever you're addicted to is very strong. You can learn what the addiction is doing to you and truly desire to change, but the old desire can take a while to die away.
This is the process of renewing your mind that Romans 12:2 talks about. This is what Paul talks about in Romans 7:15 when he says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." This process of change takes time, perseverance and self-control.
What are you learning about your emotions? What are they telling you? To continue this exploration of emotions I'll be speaking on managing emotions in week 3 of Untangling Emotions. Hope you can be there!