Ever let your emotions get the best of you? Yep, me too. Ever become so angry inside that you could not control it and said things you wouldn’t normally say? Yep, me too. Our emotions have lasting effects not just on ourselves but the person or people at whom we direct our emotions upon. Yep, those emotions can produce words and actions that we later regret. The old adage: “I wear my heart on my sleeve” possibly originated from William Shakespeare’s play “Othello”. Let me tell you, that was my mantra for a while but honestly, it is not a good one. Wearing my heart on my sleeve can be dangerous and tragic. Being transparent is good but how far do we take it? Having transparent emotions may mean that we act out what we feel without thinking. Transparent emotions can mean that we allow our feelings to dictate our lives, situations, and moods. This in turn, shows our level of maturity and also lets us know that we trust in ourselves more than God to direct a situation. It is possible that we have learned our emotional responses from our parents or a role model growing up and have never purposed to change our emotional habits. Learning how to manage or control our emotions may not be easy but it is attainable with the 3 P’s: Prayer, Purpose, and Practice.
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)
So how do we get a handle on it?
First by prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6-8) since this is not something we must deal with alone. We can take it to Jesus in our complete vulnerability and ask Him to help us learn how to manage what we feel and how we react in situations. It also takes using the fruit of the Spirit to guide and lead us as we live out each day. For some of us, this is no easy feat and may be a daily struggle until we put our practice into action – that is purposing to change our emotional responses. One rule of thumb in any situation that involves the emotion called anger is to break away from the moment and come back later. You could tell the individual, “Hey, I’m not feeling good about this right now and need to step away.” Then a new mantra or repetition of ‘step away and pray’ can be your first positive decision in learning to control those icky emotions that normally get the better of you. Believe me, I am one of those still learning. Not just with anger but, sadness, frustration, fear, and anxiety – emotions that can be natural but damaging if not controlled in a healthy manner.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)
So, what is Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ)? According to HelpGuide.org, it’s defined as, “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict”. Think about it – we can watch the news on any given day of people killing people because their emotions got the better of them. Whether drugs or demonic influence was involved or not, it took a person’s emotions to trigger the tragic events at play. Love is one of the most beautiful and intense emotions to exist. Anger, bitterness, and jealousy are also intense emotions that many of us do not understand nor have the ability to express and manage properly. Love will make people do crazy things when it turns into jealousy. Let’s face it, sometimes love hurts. I have heard it said that grief is love turned inside out. It truly takes purpose for learning how to manage our emotions. Purpose not only leads us to proper education of emotional intelligence but endeavoring to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. Notice how the following scriptures come right before identification of the fruit of the Spirit (scriptures above).
So many of us walk around with emotional baggage because things from our past were never resolved or dealt with and now, we live day to day in those trapped feelings not knowing how to manage them. If you are someone living with past hurts from abuse and a dysfunctional family life, purpose in yourself to seek the help you need to live a more fulfilling life. If you’re living with negative emotions all the time and/or not learning how to manage your emotions because you believe you can get a handle on them by yourself – maybe you should consider that this is a pride issue and Proverbs 16:18 clearly tells us that “pride goes before destruction”. Do not allow pride to destroy you or those around you. Seek help in learning how to deal with gross emotions; purposely find a way to learn and manage your emotions so that you can live a life of freedom and actually enjoy living. Jesus wants us to have liberty - So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36 NLT). Emotional healing brings emotional stability. I’m having to learn how to handle my own emotions and it’s not easy, but I know that God wants us to learn how to be stable and walk by faith and not by what we feel. The Bible tells us in James 1:8: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”. Wow how powerful that verse is. I don’t want to be double-minded, and I don’t want to be unstable. It’s time to put purpose into practice.
Practice Makes Perfect
How do we get a hold on our emotions? How do we learn to respond to situations better? Remember, we must pray first. It takes a whole lot of self-control and practice to walk away from situations where anger is involved – especially when the anger comes from ourselves. How do we pull ourselves away, go pray and resolve messy situations later? With purpose, self-control and letting God lead us into our day. Prayer should begin as soon as we wake up so that God is ordering our steps (Psalm 119:133-136) and guiding us through our day. This helps to divert the attacks of the enemy and the fiery darts that he may throw at us during the day by putting on the whole armor of God. With the Lord leading us, we tremendously decrease the odds of not only spiritual attacks but circumstances that may lead us to regret some emotional display. That is not to say that God won’t allow us to confront situations to teach us how to grow in our emotions and how to learn to handle issues when they arise – because He will but praying before starting our day really does allow the Lord control over our lives and helps us to trust Him and not ourselves.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up. Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)
Look, we all need help from time to time. There is no shame in that. Matter of fact, a wise person will seek help when it is needed. We first do so by seeking God and then wise counsel – that may be a Pastor, Psychologist or Counselor. For me it is my Pastor mostly but there are so many wonderful Christian people in my life that I go to for prayer and help. Thank Jesus that they have come into my life and are able to give me sound advice when I need it. I hope that whoever reads this will seek out help if it is needed. Find a church, find a Pastor and purpose in your life to live daily for God and watch what happens. When your life begins and ends with Jesus – nothing is impossible. Seeking Jesus daily for emotional help, growth and stability is key to learning emotional coping skills. Seeking wise counsel from professionals and your Pastor is the beginning for purposing to learn emotional intelligence. We cannot do it alone and we are not supposed to. Do not let pride get in the way of asking for help. I am 46 years old and having to learn how to handle my emotions even now and with prayer and good counsel I plan on conquering emotional issues for a better life and healthy relationships. I pray you will do the same.
For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. Proverbs 11:14
Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established. Proverbs 15:22Plans are established by counsel; By wise counsel wage war. Proverbs 20:18