Emotions are a very large part of our lives, whether we’re always cognizant of it or not. At times we may be very aware of the way we feel, when we’re meditating, praying, or going for a walk. When we can let the rest of our life take a backseat, we may find it easier to examine our feelings and what caused us to feel that way. But when we’re caught up in the hustle and bustle of our lives, we can fly through a range of emotions in very little time without thinking.
Disappointment, shock, happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety, peacefulness. We hardly have a minute to think about our emotions in the midst of all that is happening. So, it’s no wonder that sometimes they get out of control. Dr. Jim Schroeder joined John Morales on Morning Air to talk about why we should regularly take stock of our feelings and emotions and find the ways God is speaking to us through our experiences.
“When we think of feelings like anxiety, fear, and guilt, what we find out is that they are really useful informants that are supposed to guide us to a desired action in the short term, in line with God’s design,” said Dr. Schroeder. “And when we use them in that way, they work really well. The problem is when we feel chronically anxious or chronically guilty, with the way God has designed us, if we’re not utilizing them appropriately, they typically lead to poor physical, psychological, social, and even spiritual outcomes.”
These feelings that we have are tremendously important and they serve a great purpose in the way we conduct ourselves, but we have to learn and understand how they should be used and how to avoid misusing them.
Unless we take the time to examine our feelings and emotions, we won’t learn how to control them, and we won’t realize that they’re often a sign of something deeper. Sometimes, the emotions that fill us up aren’t just a reaction to our environment. Sometimes, they are the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, our guardian angel, or a pin pricking our conscience. As Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” We must never forget that our souls are forever. This world and these bodies are temporary.
Be aware of the ways God is trying to speak to you. His messages aren’t always as clear as verbal conversations, unless they have to be. And when they are, they’re often more painful than they would have been if we had been open to His message from the start. God is constantly trying to contact us and our inundation with the noise of the world might be blocking us from hearing.
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world…” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
God is not allowing us to suffer because He wants us in pain, but He is imploring us to pay attention; see Him through the sorrow and the tragedy.
From our own perspective, it is very common to experience something negative like offense or indignation, and automatically assume that our emotions trump everybody else’s. That’s not to say that our feelings aren’t valid or aren’t understandable. They certainly are, but they aren’t always in line with reality or the objective truth. Do we even stop to think about the way others are feeling? Why is their perspective less valid than ours? Are we being selfish or narrow-sighted? The only way to know is if we reign in our emotions and analyze them objectively.
While anxiety and stress can give us short-term benefits by informing us of the actions we need to take, they have bad long-term effects by affecting our physical, spiritual, and social health. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we can indulge the emotions that give us long-term benefits: love, admiration, respect, and trust. They build relationships, bring out the best in us and others, and can often nurture the qualities that we admire in others.
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