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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Three Questions to Help Manage Emotions

In review of 1 Peter 4:2 it says, “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires.”

Bottom Line:
It means you have been turned from spending your time chasing after your own desires, to live by and want to be controlled by God and His will.

What this means to me:
When I follow Christ, my desires and priorities will begin to change. I no longer pursue not my desires but rather I now desire to be controlled by the ones God want’s.

Today’s passage follows after a statement Peter made that can be summarized as: When you follow Christ, you will not always be understood. You must be ready to suffer just as He had. The passage states, “From now on, then, you must live the rest of your earthly lives controlled by God’s will and not by human desires” 1 Peter 4:2 (TEV).

Human desires from this passage can be best defined as my emotions and affections. Being a Christ-follower, my life should be controlled by God’s will, and not by how I feel at the moment.

Given this, here are three questions I can ask myself, when I’m trying to figure out how to deal with feelings (angry, upset or frustrated):

First, “What’s the real reason I’m feeling this?” Maybe the answer is fear or worry. Maybe it relates to something said to me years ago.

Next, “Is it true?” Is what I’m feeling at that moment true? There’s a point in the Bible where Elijah got so discouraged that he went to God and complained, “God, I’m the only one in the entire nation of Israel left serving you.” And God challenged him, saying, “Are you kidding me? I've got all these people who are still serving me! You’re acting like you’re the only one trying to do the right thing in the whole world! No. That’s not true.” I need to stay away from exaggerations. It takes me out the realm of reality.

Lastly, “Is what I’m feeling helping me or hurting me?” I need to consider if I’ll get what I want or need by continuing to feel this way? A lot of feelings I have feel natural, but can actually self-defeating.

For example, I go to a restaurant, and the service is extremely slow. I wait a long time to be served, and then a couple comes in 15 minutes after I do and gets their meal before me. I get increasingly more irritated until I feel something welling up inside.

So If I apply these three questions to this scenario:

What’s the real reason I’m feeling that way? I’m hungry!

Is it true? Yes. I’m frustrated because the service is slow. But is my emotion helping or hurting? Do I get better service by getting angry at the server? Absolutely not.

Does nagging work? Has it ever worked? When somebody tells me all the things I’m doing wrong, does it make me want to change? No! All it does is make me more defensive.

Asking myself these three questions, will help me get a better grip on why I feel the way I do and what I need to do to help the situation. This helps manage my emotions. In retrospect, I can be greatly attached to my emotions. They are what come to mind. Often it’s because I believe I've been cheated or I deserve something. I need to remember that what I’m feeling may not always be true. I need to consider what is the real reason for the way I’m feeling. I need to ask is what I’m feeling really true. And most importantly, is how I’m feeling going to help the situation or hurt it.

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