Why did God give us emotions? First, our feelings enable us to fully enjoy the Good Things God has given us. Second, they activate our Personal Warning System. A signal that something is happening within us or around us.
How physical feelings work can help us understand our Personal Warning System.
Let’s say you’re walking on the beach. You step on something. Like a bee. (I actually did that. Ouch!) You immediately feel pain. You stop. And take a close look at where it hurts. Then you make a decision in regard to what need to be done.
Ignoring pain doesn’t work. In fact, it will make matters worse.
The same is true for your emotions. They are signals that something is happening. Internally or externally. And paying attention to them will provide valuable information.
How to use your emotions – even the unpleasant ones – to your advantage:
- Notice that you’re feeling something. That seems like a no-brainer. But a lot of people have spent a lifetime trying to tune out emotions. Especially the unpleasant ones. So being aware that you’re feeling is the first step.
- Identify the specific emotion. Angry. Sad. Hurt. Afraid. Guilty. Ashamed. Happy. These are broad categories. Be as specific as you can. Here’s a list that can help you find just the right word to express what you’re feeling.
- Identify your need. Feelings can be signals that you need something. Comfort. Reassurance. Healing. Hearing the voice of a Loved One. Being held by someone who cares. Or your feeling may be telling you to do something. Such as protect yourself or someone else. Be careful though. Sometimes self-protection is counter-productive. Especially if it’s rooted in past experience, rather than in the present.
- Ask someone to help meet your need. Ask Your Heavenly Father. Or ask someone who loves you. “I’m feeling sad right now. Would you please hold me?”
- Accept the response you get. The Lord answers in many different ways. You might feel His Presence emotionally or even physically. He might remind you of Scripture. Either way, you can be sure He hears you. So keep talking to Him.
(a) It’s a little different when you ask another human being to help meet your need. If he does what you ask (your request must be be concrete, simple, specific), soak it up. Your feelings may take a while to subside, so give yourself time as you replay his loving response in your mind.
(b) However, he may deny your request. And you must accept that, too. Because he may be overwhelmed himself. He can’t give you something if he doesn’t have it.
The Bottom Line
God gave your feelings to YOU. So you are responsible for understanding and responding to them. Never try to manipulate others to make yourself feel better. It will backfire.