Emotions as Allies, not Dictators: Sustainable New You Habits

Emotions as Allies, not Dictators: Sustainable New You Habits


Some face relationship issues while others suffer from loneliness. From disappointments to frustration or even anger, this week’s circumstances could rattle your heart. In fact, any given time of year can present us with a torrent of emotions. We can rise on a wave of happiness with high expectations and soon afterward find ourselves careening through anxiety or crashing onto negative rocks of sorrow or disappointment. The seasickness of  life’s highs and lows can tempt us to hyperfocus on the heart or despise our emotions altogether.

When we center our lives upon stabilizing and appeasing emotion, we put the heart in a place of authority. Most heart-ruled souls remain unaware they’ve elected an incompetent leader. Culture insists we follow our hearts and set happiness as our top goal. The encouragement to seek emotional well being resounds with wisdom, but many misinterpret this advice as a suggestion to set up feelings as dictators.

Well being, emotional and otherwise, requires us to dethrone our hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

 “I the Lord search the heart
    and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
    according to what their deeds deserve.” 

–Jeremiah 17:9-10

In the deposing of our hearts from their ill-suited leadership roles, we should take care not to dismiss our feelings altogether. Sometimes anger or excitement can lead us to make mistakes. After recognizing our emotions misled us, we might react by devaluing and ignoring them as foolish. But our hearts provide great insights when we learn to interpret them. Ignoring them entirely can lead us to even greater mistakes.

[bctt tweet=”Emotions make horrible leaders, but can offer immense value as counselors. ” username=”@tyeagerwrites”]

We function best when we follow the design.

  1. Spirit as the leader
  2. Thoughts and actions set in alignment with the Spirit
  3. Emotions to inform or warn us

We cannot steer our emotions directly and our feelings make unreliable steering wheels for our lives. Thoughts and actions can affect the direction and outcome of emotions, however. Even our minds and activities fail to offer the best leadership. The Holy Spirit provides ultimate wisdom and remains the sole, unsurpassed authority over all areas. Leadership by the omnipotent and perfect leader brings us an infinite level of potential benefit. Only the Holy Spirit can best direct our thoughts and actions, which can then steer our emotions toward well being.

God designed us with emotions, not as dictators, but as allies. The heart provides us with feedback, which we must filter to understand and make wise adjustments. Anger, for example, signals a pain point of sorrow or fear which urges us to self-protect. We can examine our irritation to gain insights which can help us move forward. Ask yourself the following questions to harvest benefits from your emotions:

  • What triggered this emotion?
  • Is there an underlying feeling beneath this (fear, sorrow, insecurity, loneliness)?
  • What causes me to feel the core emotion? What thoughts are tied to this feeling?
  • Are the thoughts tied to this feeling true? Are they exaggerated (always, never, worst, most, forever, e.g.)?
  • If this feeling comes with exaggerated or false thoughts, where did those thoughts come from? When did they start?
  • Does this relate to an unresolved issue in my past which needs healing?
  • Is my emotional reaction in this moment magnified by another person, stressor, or memory?
  • Could there be unforgiveness toward this person or someone else which I need to release?
  • Is my irritation or sorrow signalling a need to set healthier boundaries or make a change in my circumstances?
  • Could a physical issue be contributing to my emotional well being (sleep, nutrition, illness, fitness, mental health)?
  • Have I prayed through this long enough to stop and listen to the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of my feelings?
If we turn our hearts over to the Lord, he will sift our feelings through his loving truth and healing power. He shows as much patience with all of us as he did with the prophet, Elijah. After a huge victory over paganism among God’s people, physical and emotional exhaustion overtook the prophet. Emotionally distraught, he fled to a cave (1 Kings 19).
And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
–1 Kings 19:9
Of course God knew Elijah’s answer. But the Lord asked him the same question twice. Not for God’s understanding, which needed no clarification. The Lord repeated his question as an invitation for Elijah to pour out his emotion in the context of his relationship with the Lord. God already knew the heart of his prophet. The Lord listened until Elijah felt heard.
After Elijah offered his heart to the Lord in this venting, cave-rant, the prophet remained in God’s presence to listen to the Lord.
The Lord longs to receive the burdens of your heart, too. He will listen with loving patience. Feeling heard by the Lord provides only a portion of the potential benefits of praying  through our emotions, however. We receive the fullness of his blessings when we pray long enough to listen for HIS heart, too.
The Spirit longs to share relationship with us and care for our hearts. He alone can direct us and sustain us. Through prayerfully sorting out the signals of our feelings, we can receive direction and strength bolstered by our designer and best leader.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Will you pray to invite the Spirit to re-order your life’s authority this week?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback.
Be Encouraged,

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