Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday's Topics- Healthy Emotions

I've given the direction of the blog quite a bit of thought in the last few weeks.  I'm sure you have noticed many changes and updates.  I'm very proud of where the blog is going and I want to make sure that the information I put out is relevant to my readers.

As such, I've decided to include a weekly post about important topics in healthy eating and living.  Originally I really wanted to keep with the alliteration that is in my title...so my plan was "Friday Facts." The OCD in me may need to change this at some point and go with the Friday posts, but for now Tuesday's Topics sounds better-- these are topics not always facts after all, and Tuesday's are just more feasible for me to write.

So here goes: my first of many Tuesday's Topics.

Healthy Emotions

Talking about emotions wasn't my initial plan for my first Tuesday Topic.  However, I recently discovered that I need a lesson in dealing with emotions.  Our culture tends to teach that there are "good" and "bad" emotions and that expressing "good" emotions make you a positive person, and expressing "bad" emotions make you a negative person.  We all want to be positive people right? So, at times, we are left squashing the "bad" emotions into a bottle and tightening the lid, and we only allow "good" emotions to flow freely out.

But those "bad" emotions begin to seep, little by little, from the seal of the bottle.  And as pressure builds inside that bottle...well you know what happens- the cap blows off the bottle and we are left waging a war on all that is holy!

Have you experienced this?

What do we consider "bad" emotions?
anger, grief, sadness, disappointment, discouragement, fear

"Good" emotions?
happy, excited, pleased, giving, joy

I realize that all humans are meant to experience all emotions.  It is the way we are created.  Our mouths frown and smile, our heads bow and lift.  Why then must we label our emotions bad and good when they were all meant to be?  It is not natural to stifle our emotions, instead (I) we must learn to release all of our emotions in a healthy way.  Our emotions are not "good" and "bad" but maybe the bad emotions are just difficult and uncomfortable.  Nontheless, it is our responsibility to handle all emotions. 

Emotions are our reaction to feelings.  And to healthfully respond with an emotion, we need to know what is causing us to feel that way.  Identifying why we feel a certain way isn't as easy as it sounds.  Today I have started a journal of my emotions.  Writing a one-word emotion and then following it up with the exact reason I am feeling that way.

Angry- I burnt the pan
Accomplished- I finished a hard run
Annoyed- internet isn't working
Comfortable- eating my oats and coffee

Identifying why I feel a certain way, will help keep outbursts at bay.  Then when the final straw breaks the camel's back, it doesn't turn into a battle zone, rather the feelings won't stack up against each other and erupt on an unsuspecting audience because each has its own separate meaning.

If we can identify our emotions and the feelings that cause them, how do we react in a healthy way?  Signs of healthy emotions are:
  1. The scale of your reaction is appropriate to the scale of the situation (i.e. I burnt the pan: I stomp my feet, throw out some hateful words into the air-- "gosh darn it!" I ignore the burnt pan for a few minutes, and then I'm over it.  I do not throw the pan, I do not kick the stove, and I do not curse loudly and insanely and I don't give up on my day or cooking altogether because of one failed attempt.)
  2. Your negative feelings go away after a short period of time.
  3. You are able to communicate your emotions in a productive manner.
If expressing your emotions in a healthy way doesn't come naturally, it can be a difficult task.  I recommend the exercise mentioned above, writing down and recognizing where your emotions come from.  That will help you to direct your response from the emotion to the right audience in a productive way.

I do not claim to be an expert in dealing with emotions, and I suggest that if you are really struggling, you seek additional, professional help.  Healthy expression comes with practice, and self-control and it can be a staggering task.  Remember that you are created by a loving God to experience all these emotions.  It is part of the adventure of life.  Without anger we wouldn't know joy, without sadness we wouldn't know happiness.  Without fear we wouldn't know comfort. 

"So all the world from east to west will know there is no other God.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.  I am the one who creates the light and makes the darkness.  I am the one who sends good times and bad times.  I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.  Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness.  Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together.  I , the Lord, created them."
Isaiah 45:6-8

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