“Cast all your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.” Ps 55:22
Stanford researcher, Dr. Robert Ornstein, says that “Emotions, whether positive or negative, seem to stimulate ver strong actions. They also help organize experience. They tend to color perception of ourselves and others. Emotions both guide and goad our actions.” The Feeling Brain: Emotions and Health.
Most of us would like to have better control over what triggers our behavior. Many emotions seem unpredictable, and too many times we don’t know that the key to emotional choice is the emotion itself.
Three clues that show when not coping well emotionally are…
- Consistently responding to everyday life situations from a position of weakness, i.e. with feelings of helplessness, anger, frustration, etc.
- Having no satisfying way of coping with emotions such as fear, guilt, loneliness, and others. And so we withdraw.
- Believing that it is wrong to feel certain emotions, such as envy, anger, or even desire. If we do express these emotions, we experience shame or guilt.
On the other hand, there are two major attributes of people who cope well.
- They respond with a wider range of emotions because they have a larger emotional reserve to call upon, moving away from negative emotions to more productive ones, and…
- respond to their emotions as real and meaningful communications about how to make their lives better.
Handler and Lebeau said that “an emotion is an overall feeling response at a moment in time.” If that is so, then unpleasant emotions can have a purposeful quality – they can propel us toward useful and positive outcomes and behaviors. Have you not used anger to motivate you to take control and do something different? Or used guilt to change a behavior? That is what I mean.
Don’t be discouraged if using your emotions to motivate toward a positive goal takes longer than you expect. It is not easy, but with practice, you can master it.