My eyes brimmed with tears that threatened to overflow and spoil our family breakfast at a special waterfront restaurant. As ridiculous as it sounds, a family spat over what to order made me cry. Seated across from me, my husband and two kids looked worried.
As I took deep breaths and willed away the tears, I thought back over my week. Several conflicts had gone unresolved, and PMS had set me on a roller-coaster ride headed for disaster. Now my pent-up frustration spilled out as a flood of tears over a silly disagreement about whether to order an omelet or Turkish breakfast!
Negative emotions are a gift from God because they signal that something is wrong. Maybe you’re going through a difficult patch right now. Marital conflict, a child’s behavior, even a misunderstanding with a friend can leave you feeling sad, disappointed, hurt, or resentful. If you’re like me, fluctuating hormones can send you over the edge.
How can we effectively handle negative emotions?
Stop to identify how you feel:
Often we struggle under a vague sense of depression or sadness without pausing to taking stock of what we feel or what the cause is. Self-awareness is the first step towards dealing with negative emotions.
Give yourself the freedom to express yourself appropriately:
Have a good cry. Get alone with God and pour out your heart. Tell your husband or a trusted friend what you’re going through. Pent-up emotions will only boil over later. Let them out so you can move on past them!
Work things through:
Negative emotions are usually a sign that something needs to change. Do we need to work through conflict with someone? Maybe we need to change our approach to a situation?
Be proactive to care for yourself:
After my family breakfast fiasco, I realized that insufficient rest had left me ill-equipped to handle conflict and stress. Managing our schedules so that we take time for rest and renewal can help.
Cultivate a Renewed Mind:
Negative emotions usually flow from negative thought patterns, so we need to ask God to renew our minds by replacing negative thoughts with His truth. These different versions of Romans 12:2 are telling:
Asking God to transform our thoughts and feelings opens the door to His miraculous work. We can also create more space in our lives for His transforming power when we take practical steps towards a renewed mind:
- Let go of hurt and choose forgiveness:
When someone hurts or offends us, we tend to rehearse it over and over in our minds. Instead, why not make a declaration of forgiveness each time the hurt thought crops up?
Worship helps us to connect with God. Because it moves our focus away from ourselves and toward Him, it provides an antidote to our frustration or sadness.
- Fill your mind with God’s word:
Ask God to give you a special scripture that speaks to your situation. Declare that word, memorize it, and pray it.
Normal feelings like anger, frustration, and sadness don’t have to defeat us. As we express them appropriately and seek to move past them, God is with us. His Holy Spirit empowers us to make progress towards renewed minds and hearts.
Now it’s your turn: What helps you handle haywire emotions?
(re-edited from my archives)
Linking up with Holly Barrett’s #Testimony Tuesday, Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup. Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory, Meredith Bernard’s #Woman2Woman, and Grace & Truth via Kaylene Yoder. Check out these communities for more encouragement.