Emotions as Teachers
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
Before Thanksgiving drifts too far into the past, will you participate in a thought exercise with me?
Ok. Let’s get into it.
What emotions did you experience over the course of the holiday?
Joy, guilt, jealousy?
Today, rather than ignoring them, let’s ask “What do each of my emotions reveal?”
Our strongest emotions reveal our deepest values.
Emotions can be excellent teachers. Our anger can indicate a sense of injustice, providing exactly the right amount of energy needed to address an important issue. Fear can empower us to flee from danger and survive to face another day. Why is it, then, that we feel such a drive to resist our negative emotions?
When we look into a mirror and see that we have food in our teeth, we do not get angry at the mirror. We are thankful that it revealed something that needed dealt with.
Instead of condemning ourselves for being a host to negativity, let’s be adventurers. Today we explore!
Start by making a list. Process the holiday, listing all of the emotions you remember experiencing. Check out this list of emotions if you need help identifying yours.
Review the list. Do you notice any themes?
Count the number of positive and negative emotions you experienced. Did you encounter more positive or negative emotions in the day? Which feelings seemed to pervade the day? Did a single emotion take over?
For me, although this year was much more positive than in years past, I documented 8 positive and 6 negative emotions.
For now, choose the strongest feeling to explore a little further.
How do you feel about this emotion? If you had to determine whether it was your friend or foe, which would it be?
Why is it that we often see our emotions as our enemies?
It doesn’t feel like we have control over them. Emotions sneak up on us and attack like a predator that blends into the landscape, only to pounce on us when we least expect it. If we constantly push our negative emotions out of our periphery, we will be overcome when they enter our line of sight.
But emotions are important. God made emotions to guide our behavior. Emotions are a mirror into our souls. Instead of despising our negative emotions, what if we ask, “What do my emotions reveal about the world around me?”
In the future, we will investigate the specific behaviors linked with each emotion, so hold on to your list of emotions. We will also explore three ways we can gain more control over our emotions and what it means to be led by our emotions.
If you’re interested in exploring your grief, check out our Grief Through the Holidays course: