Taking Control of Your Emotions

The importance of right responses to daily challenges cannot be over emphasized; so powerful are our responses they actually dictate the kind of day we will experience.  It is within your power, and mine, to have a victorious day, regardless of the tests or trials that come our way. Understanding the magnitude of this truth can be truly life-changing because:

WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE SLAVES TO OUR EMOTIONS!

One of the blessings that devout Jews speak each day [1] is, “Blessed are You, Oh, LORD, our God, King of the Universe who did not make me a slave.” Another one is “Blessed are You, Oh, LORD, our God, King of the Universe who made me a partaker in Israel.”  When combined and repeated daily, especially in Hebrew, which you can listen to and learn (see link at bottom of post), these proclamations become  personal scud missiles capable of destroying the roots of destructive lifestyles.

Wise responses to irritating people or circumstances will naturally lead to positive experiences which will energize you and cause you to feel good about yourself, even in the midst of challenges.  On the other hand, unwise responses will leave you feeling torn, disappointed, and even full of regret and bitterness.  These nasty emotions will also take up the rest of your day by causing you to mull and mope over the circumstance. Further, they will push you to take out your frustration on those you love. Negative emotions drain you of energy, joy, and creativity, and, as well, destroy your personal peace and peace in your home. The good news is that the Creator of the Universe wants to help you to overcome shameful and annoying habits. I know! From personal experience!

Stop, Look, Listen, and Breathe

Let’s say you find yourself today feeling angry, stressed and bothered.  Say out loud, “OK, I am encountering (fill in the blank) sadness, anger, agitation, disgust, depression, bitterness, jealousy, resentment, whatever. But, though I encounter it, I don’t have to let it run away with me. Therefore, I will analyze whether this emotion will lead to inner peace or will it lead to regret or shame.”

It is crucial to evaluate each response thoughtfully rather than responding habitually. Habits are yet other powerful forces that either drag us toward evil and its consequences or motivate us toward good and its rewards. If I habitually choose to look at life with a negative view, I will find myself being dragged under the armpit of a sweating Sumo wrestler from one negative circumstance to another and one negative emotion to another. But, if I choose to look at each life issue from the position of unshakable belief that the Creator loves me, that He is tailoring every circumstance for my ultimate good, I will find the opposite occurring.  “And all these blessings shall come on you and overtake you, if you will listen to the voice of the LORD your God”(Deut. 28:2)  “Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Blessed is the man that overcomes temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him. (James 1:12)

Having taken these two very valuable steps, first to STOP, and, second, to LOOK, now pause and speak to your Heavenly Father and LISTEN to what He has to say.  “Abba, I thank You that I have been created in Your image, unlike birds, butterflies,  fish, deer, and other creatures who act by instinct alone. Thank you for my emotions. Thank You that I do not have to go through life like a zombie, without feelings. Thank You that You know my every thought, my every hurt, my every frustration. Please help me to sort out my emotions, which I now understand as powerful forces that can be wings to take me where I really want to go. Show me what is hiding behind what I am feeling at this very moment and expose any lies of the enemy who is prowling around, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Thank You that You delight to give me the insight that I need to be an overcomer so that You may be glorified and I can feel good about myself.” “He who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.”(Rev. 21:7)

Now that you have recognized the negative emotion that is oppressing you and you have prayed for wisdom to respond rightly, if at all possible give yourself a break before you respond. Instead of allowing your emotions to overwhelm you, whisper to the person next to you that you need some fresh air. If possible, go outside and take several deep breaths, blowing out your anxiety along with the noxious carbon dioxide. Recall the myriad times that God has come to your rescue and ask Him now to help you restore your composure and to act with wisdom. If you are a child of the Most High God, He promises to never leave you or forsake you. Thank Him in advance for the way of escape that He has promised. “No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor. 10:13.

Life is a Dance

It is useful to think of emotions as potential dance partners. Just because an emotion presents itself does not mean we have to dance with it. We can say, “No, thank you” and go on to a more attractive dance partner!

>[1] You can read, listen, and learn these powerful blessings in Hebrew here: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Blessings/Synagogue_Blessings/Birchot_HaShachar/birchot_hashachar.html

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