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  • Writer's pictureSam Kee

Help Me Understand My Emotions!

Your emotions are like a superpower! Emotions are information, energy, a gift from God, and glue. The guys explore what each of these mean in episode #24 of Bumper Sticker Faith.

Have you ever started up your car, only to see an engine light pop up on the dash? Ugh! You sigh. This isn't good! To be clear, the check engine light on your car is neither good nor bad, but it's just neutral information about something else going on with the car. And you ignore it at your own risk.

Our emotions are like the check engine lights on a car. Our emotions give us information about what's going on in our 'system.' So we shouldn't get angry at our emotions or feel ashamed of them. Our emotions are just letting us know what's going on 'under the hood.'

You can divide your emotions into two broad groups: first, there are emotions you have when your needs are being met; second, there are emotions you have when your needs are not being met. So you have positive emotions (when your needs are being met), like joy, love, trust, and peace; and, you have negative emotions (when your needs are not being met), like sadness, disgust, fear, and anger. In all, there are twelve core emotions that break out into many more sub-emotions.

To use the feelings wheel, start at the rim. Locate your particular emotion on the outer rim and then move inward toward the hub to discover the root emotion. For example, if you feel concern about something, you will learn this is a type of anxiety, and you will discover the root emotion is fear. You fear losing something. So what do you fear losing? Or what have you lost in the past that is fueling your present anxiety and future concern?

You need to be brutally honest with yourself and God, especially. God doesn't expect you to operate according to positive emotions only, but all your emotions, because that's why he gave them! It will also be helpful to be honest with other trusted people about your emotions. Just like Adam named the animals in the Garden in Eden, you need to name your emotional 'animals.' This is the start of integrating them into your life in a healthy way. Too often, we reject our emotions, hide them, or deny them. Sometimes we overindulge them or minimize them. And sometimes, we project them onto other people or things. We do all of these things rather than own them.

Don't be ashamed of your emotions! (Shame is another emotion, by the way). Accept your mutability, your humanity, and your bodily existence. This is how God made you! Your emotions are a gift from God and can help you in amazing ways in this life.

Just consider the life of Jesus. He was not ashamed or afraid of his emotions. Louis and Sam talk about the emotions of Jesus in episode #25. Jesus had a very balanced emotional life, he was not afraid to show his emotions, and he used his emotions to help accomplish what God the Father called him to do.

Here's the feelings wheel, which was made by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Study it. Meditate on it. Apply it. Again, notice the twelve core emotions. Also notice the color breakdowns. Each positive emotion has an opposite negative emotion, which is indicated by the same color. Finally, study the simple definitions of each core emotion. For example, to be afraid is to feel threatened; to feel trust is to have security.

Your emotions are a gift from God. Marvel at how God has made you and the superpowers he has given to you.

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