Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Not to Let Your Feelings Get the Best of You

Ever get caught up in the heat of the moment, do or say something mean and then regret it later? Who hasn't? Dierks Bentley, one of my favorite country singers, has a song that goes "I knew what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?"

Emotions and feelings cause us to say and do the most stupid even deadly things sometimes. One of the strongest emotions is anger, and we have recently seen what pent-up anger can provoke one to do as evidenced by the Newtown killings, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Orlando shootings to name just a few.

What really happens when we get emotional? 
The two sides of our brain compete for control. The left hemisphere controls logical, analytical, rational thinking. The right side controls our creativity, intuition, and expression of emotions. When our emotions take over, our rational logic thinking goes out the window. An example is when we fall in love, those butterflies make us completely oblivious to the reality and flaws of the other person. All we can think about, is how we feel. In a similiar way, when we are angry, our feelings take control and cause people to strike out in harmful, hurtful, and even deadly ways.

Emotions and feelings need to be expressed. 
Not unlike a volcanic eruption, unexpressed feelings can result in tumultuous explosion and then after the fact we wonder "What was I thinking?" or "What were they thinking?" The truth is we weren't thinking because the thinking side of our brain gets overruled. To a lesser degree, unexpressed anger can result in a multitude of physical ailments such as skin problems like cystic acne, boils, headaches, digestive issues, weight gain. Our bodies try to speak to us and if we don't process negative emotions either by surpressing or ignoring them, we will suffer physically as well as emotionally.

Negative thought patterns also affect our emotional well-being.  As psychologist James Allen says in his book, "As a Man Thinketh", our thoughts control our not only our destiny but our bodies and feelings as well.  If we start thinking negative thoughts, we will soon feel depressed, anxious and down. The more we dwell on negative thoughts the more power we give them. 

Did you know that the simple act of of smiling can put you in a better mood?  Studies have proven smiling improves how we feel. I'm wondering if the reverse is also true. If we go around with a frown do we feel more grumpy? Try wearing a smile more, and see what it does to your mood. An extra plus - it's FREE!

Here are some techniques I've discovered to help maintain my equilibrium and stay in control of my actions despite how I'm feeling. Give them a try and see if they help you too.

1) Tune in to my body 
     Pay attention to signals my body is sending such as a fluttering stomach, tightness,      headache. Also behaviors such as over-eating, over-drinking, shopping, and excoriation are all
     signs of emotional distress.

2) Take a time out
     Distance myself from the person or situation to difuse rather than escalate it.
     Give myself alone time to calm down and get in touch with what it bothering me.
     Walk away or go into another room, Don't allow myself to get drawn into an emotionally-charged battle.
3) Be aware of your thoughts
    Notice the thoughts going through my mind. What am I thinking? Is it true or is it fear-based?
    Practice mindfulness.
    Refuse to dwell on negative or fear-based thoughts.
    Give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
    Clarify misunderstandings by asking questions.

4) Look for the positive. 
    Choose to think healthy positive thoughts.
    Find something positive about a negative situation.
    Read inspirational books and material like this blog :)
    Listen to uplifting music.

5) Journal.
     Writing my thoughts and feelings on a daily basis helps me to
     a) be aware of my thoughts and emotions
     b) helps me to distance myself from them so I can look at them objectively and unemotionally
     c) helps get them out of my body and onto paper

6) Practice prayer and meditation
     Connect with your inner self and with the God of your understanding.
     Listen to what the still small voice is telling me
     When we settle down enough to pray and meditate, we calm the mind which in turn, calms the
     body. Calming the mind also helps quench any fear or anxiety we may experiencing.

The more we understand about the connection between our thoughts and our feelings, the better we will be able to control both and the stronger our personal power will become. What do you think about these ideas? Can you recall a situation where your emotions got the better of you? Feel free to comment on this post and share your thoughts.

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 Until next time, stay turned for more practical and spiritual wisdom and remember, keep looking up!