Well, The short answer to the title of this post is "YES!" . The problem is, for most of us, that we don't know how, or even where to begin, and so we stumble about just trying to do the best we can with what we've got. What if there were some guidelines or scriptures to help you get some perspective and get your footing again? Well, there is!
I used a lot of scripture in my last post on this topic, published just 2 days ago, here. You might want to read it first, if you haven't already. This next post is going to dive into how we manage our emotions and heal. There will be another entry on this topic on Friday.
Since, I'm taking a Biblical approach, I'm going to start off by stating that it is my opinion that "The Church", at best largely ignores emotions and at worst it demeans, dismisses and devalues them. The number of people who I have met, either in person or on social media, who have been hurt by church leaders/pastors, church members and other individuals calling themselves "Christians" just astounds me. I count myself among those numbers as well. I've been criticized, gaslighted, dismissed and often laughed at as well. It has stored up a lot of hurt in me, to be honest. I had, and still have, a hard time with a lot of it, but I'm learning and growing. I choose to allow God to take those hurts and teach me how to help others. That's what Hebrews 5 encourages me to do. I strongly desire to be positive about my past and my pain, using it all for good in the kingdom of God and for the benefit of others. It is not easy. I still have days where all I want to do is cry and stay in bed. It is so hard for me to reconcile the behavior of others "Christians" with what I read in the bible and know about God's love for me, Christian literally means "relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings". I am not the one to decide the fate of other human beings, but we are to know others by their fruit and I can tell you that I see a lot of rotten fruit. It pains me. I can honestly tell you that I have wept over learning of how much someone I care about has been hurt by someone claiming to be born again and of the Christian faith. So, when someone comes to "The Church" with some emotional wounds, seeking counsel, they are often wounded all over again. It does nothing to stop the cycle. Emotional injury does not just occur inside of religion, or spirituality, but it should be a place where we can go for comfort, guidance and wise counsel. Whether you have been hurt by family, friends or other Christians, I hope you will find some hope in this post.
Emotions are not ignored in the Bible. You will find, within its pages, that The Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), reveals a wealth of emotionality. The Holy Spirit actually reveals a very rich emotional side and this is given to us, as Believers (and as Humans, created in His image) to greatly impact our emotional lives. Our emotional health is a very significant and important aspect of our spiritual lives. We can enjoy a fullness, as we work with The Holy Spirit, learning sound spiritual foundations.
Many would prefer to dismiss emotions all together, perhaps filing them under "insignificant", but emotions are always there and they represent our inner world, giving detail and definition, to both the inner workings of ourselves and a running commentary on the world around us. Emotions are a lot of things, but insignificant is not one them. Life begins with emotion! It requires that we seek understanding them. The presence of emotions is consistent and continual; We can't do anything in life without the involvement of emotion. We would never know the joy of a new birth, a baby's laugh or first steps, pride in an accomplishment, sadness over death..... We literally can't function as loving, kind and compassionate beings without emotions.
Simply put, we can't hide from our emotions, although many are trying to do just that. They trick themselves into thinking they are coping, working through them, but they are living a bit dangerously! Suppressed emotions will re-surface and most of the time they do so when it's very inconvenient. We can be walking along and out of the blue, a song, a smell, a word, a place will trigger a memory that sends us back in time, emotionally speaking, to a place that we thought we had forgotten. Your body and your subconscious never forgets. Suppressed emotions can cause physical issues as well. (Proverbs 17:22) "It is estimated that 90 percent of all physical problems have psychological roots. That may sound like a gross exaggeration. In fact, it's probably a conservative estimate. A growing body of evidence indicates that virtually every ill that can befall the body--from acne to arthritis, headaches to heart disease, cold sores to cancer---is influenced, for better or worse, by our emotions" (Quoted from The Complete Guide To Your Emotions And Your Health, p 563, by Emrika Padus and the editors of Prevention Magazine) Whether you deal with feelings now, or much later, the effects of them will have influence somewhere, sometime in your life. If you'd like more information on how suppressed emotions can influence physical health, then I suggest this book. It has a wealth of information and has helped me personally on my path to find emotional healing.
I'll use myself as an example. Most of my life, at least for many years of it, I have struggled with the thought and feeling that "I'm not important. What I have to say doesn't matter and no one wants to listen to me". It become more intense in the past 22+ years, prior to that time, it was a mostly fleeting thought or feeling that I could easily chase away. As a result, in the last 22 years I have dealt with depression, anxiety, gut issues and general body aches. Sleeplessness, headaches and and over all feeling of fatigue as well. I've even had panic attacks. I'd still be there if it weren't for the fact I took back control and started speaking truth and life to myself. That's a really important point I want to make, if no one else around you will speak truth and life to you, DO IT YOURSELF. I'd google scriptures about what God thought I was, have a certain son on repeat that ministered to me and I would write out post it's and stick them in my work space to remind me. If you don't have a close friend to do this for you, then BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND. You have to love yourself enough to do this for you. I tell you this so that you can see that I'm not someone who hasn't felt, or experienced, intense emotions. I speak from experience and as someone who has been in a dark place before. Some emotions can be so deep, so strong that they take your breath away. And it's scary. Our fight or flight kicks in, our body's protective mechanism, and we have the strongest urge to RUN! Friend, you can't run from feelings like you can run from an animal that's chasing you, your feelings go with you. So, the best thing you can do is stand and deal. (Ephesians 6:13)
We must put on our full armor and stand our ground even when dealing with emotions. They are weapons of the enemy too. They rob us of our potential and keep us from our purpose. They drink us down slowly.... until we feel like a shell of ourselves, empty inside, like everything has been sucked out of us. All light, life and joy is covered over by the amount of emotional pain we are drowning in. (1 Peter 5:8) God provided the Earth for us, food to consume and a savior---What makes you think He left out a provision for emotional health? He did not. He's God. He knows our need before we do. He anticipated it all perfectly. (Isaiah 43:15-16, 41:10, 41:13 and 43:19)
I see so many people struggling, straining--fighting their own emotions, seeking to escape them in un-Godly, unhealthy ways that sabotage their own success. They are basically working against themselves with addictions (sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, social media and more), over eating, self medicating to fall asleep, to wake up... mind numbing prescriptions to escape their feelings. It hurts my heart. It is not supposed to be like that. These choices will only temporarily mask the issues, they will never get to the root of the problem and they all lead to bigger problems, sometimes permanent. Psychiatric drug are not as safe as claimed and have real risks.
As a Believer, we need to be aware that prescription drugs come from man, not from God. Man has meddled with natural creations, formed by our Creator, and manipulated them in a laboratory in un-Godly ways. They manipulate the mind and the body. We need to be mindful of the effect they can have on the human body and the brain. These drugs can open us up to demonic influence and alter us from the way God created us. We, as people and Christians, have to stop running away from our emotions and the collective "church" needs to stop handing out un-Biblical, un-Godly advice to us. This is, in my opinion, their weakest link in their spiritual structure. This has to be part of the foundation or many new, and old, Believers will continue to crumble under the weight of their emotions. The Church can no longer question the validity of emotions: God created us in His image and that includes emotions.
Emotions are an important issue in The Word of God. The management of them is significant to the health of our spiritual life, and our physical well being. They need to be shaped into a tool for us to show the character of Christ. The Holy Spirit is our helper in all things and that includes the natural and the spiritual. His role, as it pertains to our emotions, will take us deeper, into a greater spiritual understanding. Emotions don't equal truth, but do corroborate our understanding of the truth.
We are made in the image of God, an image that includes emotions. Therefore God has emotions. We are also His emotional image, but we need the Holy Spirit to play a role in our emotional life.
I hope you were blessed by this information! I've used most, if not all, of the scriptures I share above as part of my emotional healing journey. I'm still on it and have not "arrived". I just strive to be better each day than the day before. In my next post, I'll share about some things I do in the natural to help me find emotional balance and healing.
No one likes to talk about emotions, or feelings. No matter which you call them, they make a good multitude of people cringe when someone mentions them, eye rolls can be seen and long sighs heard. Over time, we learn to just keep them to ourselves and not talk about them with anyone. This may lead us to a therapist and we keep that all "hush-hush" too. The alternative is to just keep stuffing them down until our emotional stomach is full to bursting and there is no more room left; We suddenly become overwhelmed at the most inopportune times and the we erupt! We start regurgitating old emotions and hurts like a volcano that has been dormant for years. We. Must. Purge. More often, we do the latter, because seeing a counselor, let alone admitting it, comes with its own stigma. Suddenly, people see you as severely flawed if you can't handle yourself when in fact you are seeking help to do just that. Oh, the irony!
I regularly see a licensed therapist and participate in a group therapy session 2 times a month when my schedule allows. What I have learned over the years of doing this, is that I have become better, stronger and smarter about my feelings and emotions. I use both words because, for me personally, they have two different meanings. My feelings are what I experience temporarily, I have learned to recognize many of them and take them for what they are: Temporary and not reality. I try hard not to let them guide my choices daily.
Emotions are different, for me anyway, these are deeply held, almost like my personal beliefs but different. They can come from past hurts and trauma or experiences, both good and bad. They can form because of wrong beliefs about myself or even correct ones. See, even self confidence is an emotion, we FEEL it. The same with gratitude, love and kindness or with dislike, hatred and pain. But we feel them differently, way deep down, not just at the surface. They can cause us great joy or great anguish. Those temporary feelings, they don't usually go deep down, but they can trigger some of these deeper emotions.
We aren't usually seeking help with dealing with those happier feelings, like joy, excitement, gratitude; We don't run to our closest friend and say "Hey, I'm too happy today, help bring me down!" No, we enjoy those and want them stay around! It's those negative feelings that we so often seek help by wanting to talk or vent. And it's those negative feelings that are so often rejected. I've been there, my friend, turning to someone that you thought cared, who claimed to be a friend and trustworthy, only to be chastised, reprimanded, then ultimately rejected. You only wanted HELP. You are not wrong for feeling what you feel, or having those deep emotions. You are not wrong for seeking help and counsel, either.
The only wrong choice we often make is in how we act because of those feelings. I'm talking about violent outbursts, physical altercations, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain as so many do, or other means of relieving the pain that never get to the root of the issue. There is a better choice. You can learn to manage your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. It takes some effort from you, friend. Are you ready to take control and be in charge instead of letting your thoughts, feeling and emotions run the show? There is hope.
First, we need to change what we believe about emotions. We have to work on our mindset. Once we do some of this internal work, we can learn to manage our emotions, instead of them managing us. Emotions can be helpful indicators of what's going on in our hearts. Use them as a gauge. Out of control emotions, do not produce God honoring results, or results that show respect for self and others. (James 1:20)
Emotions are greatly influenced by our flesh--so they do need to be managed. We don't want to allow them to control us. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us, being the main influence in how we live our lives and make choices, not our feelings or emotions. (Romans 5, Ephesians 5:15-18, 1 Peter 5:6-11)
When we recognize our emotions, we can bring them to God and allow Him to work in us. If we never take time to identify them we won't allow the Holy Spirit to help us or God to work in us and through us.
The Psalms are filled with raw, pure human emotion! Anguish, anger, sadness, depression and more! These emotions were poured out to God in order to seek His truth and righteousness. We are to rely on Him for everything. He supplies our need at any given moment and that supply is activated by our Faith.
We are also not meant to do life alone. Other Believers are meant to be a gift to us, with whom we can share our burdens (and them with us--relationships are meant to be mutually beneficial and a blessing to all involved). Other Believers are meant to be a source of help when seeking to manage our emotions. Often, just the simple act of sharing, being heard, is enough and can be so helpful. A listening ear is a blessing. When we share with another we can be reminded of God's simple truths and be offered a new perspective. (Romans 12, Galations 6:1-10, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 and Hebrews 3:13) However, all too often when we share with a fellow Brother or Sister in Christ, even a Pastor/Minister, we are shamed, guilted, criticized and even accused of being in sin when we have taken no sinful actions as a result of our feelings or emotions; We are seeking help which is right and good. IF a Believer, Pastor or Minister has done that to you, then they are in the wrong, and you will need to forgive them. You weren't sinning by seeking help and counsel, in fact you are doing exactly what is suggested in God's Word. I end conversations with people who are seeking to condemn me, instead of offering up some compassion and Godly counsel. I also don't go back to them in the future! Pray and ask God to show you who might be a better option for you. You also don't owe someone an explanation as to why you no longer share issues like this with them.
Other Believers can be a source of encouragement, exhortation and reassurance. Friendships can be mutually beneficial relationships, especially when there is mutual honor and respect. It can be so difficult to share one's innermost feelings. You can be a source of great help to others as well, just be sure to honor that relationship and never treat it as common. Don't betray a trust, unless someone is speaking of harming themselves or others. Get them help. STERN WARNING: NEVER, cover up for an abuser. If someone shares with you what is emotional, mental and/or physical abuse then help them get help. DO NOT PROTECT THE ABUSER. Abuse happens in the "church", and within the homes of Believers too. Just because someone regularly attends church, volunteers and is involved does not mean they are perfect or even leading a Godly life outside of church. Many abusers will actually use this as a way to cover up and "hide" their behavior from others as a way to project a "perfect" image to the outside world when at home they are very different to their spouse and children.
Grow in your walk with God, read His word and it will help you to learn to manage your emotions. Those two actions will help you renew your mind and transform your thinking. As we seek God more, we grow spiritually. This also brings about changes in the natural. We grow in our faith and experience emotional maturity, intelligence and learn healthy boundaries.
I'll continue this topic in my next blog post, where I share what I've learned and use for emotional healing.
Be thankful for the ability to feel and recognize them as a gift from God.
The Did you know that while you sleep your body is really busy? It doesn't just shut down and stop working. While you sleep, your body temp drops, your blood pressure does as well and you lose all sense of time and space. That's not all though, a study published last October shows that your brain's waste-flush system, the glymphatic system, may be TEN times more active at night while we sleep than when we are awake! Wow! You can read more about that here.
It's just fascinating what our bodies can do! During sleep, our body is busy regulating hormones, dreaming, working to maintain a healthy metabolism, renewing and repairing brain cells, cleaning out our eyes (Morning crusties, anyone???), you forget useless information and your body is basically working to flush out all toxins. This could explain why not getting enough sleep makes us feel so sluggish, tired and unfocused; We have not allowed our body the time to do all the work it needs to at night. We cut it's work hours short and we shorted ourselves too!
So, what does all of this have to do with lemon in water? I'm glad you asked!
#1, You haven't drank anything for several hours. You need to hydrate. This starts your digestion and begins the process of eliminating all those toxins the body wants to flush out of your system! Adding Lemon gives this process a boost as it's a helpful aid to the liver and kidneys which are the main organs for flushing out toxins. The lemon basically stimulates stomach acid production and bile production too.
#2, You will have higher energy levels! Try it for a week and see! Keep a daily water journal and make note of how you feel throughout the day. The addition of Lemon to your water gives you a little pep to your step too! Energy and digestion should improve!
#3, It will help your skin! Skin needs hydration to look youthful and bright! Also, by flushing those toxins out, you are helping your skin to stay clear.
#4, You are getting a boost of Vitamin C by adding a squeeze of lemon, which is helpful to your immune system and the production of Collagen which is vital to smooth and healthy skin as well.
#5, Healthy weight.. this article here shows that drinking water first thing can help aid in maintaining a healthy weight:
"After drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rates — or the rate at which calories are burned — increased by 30% for both men and women. The increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes."
Drinking more water throughout the day can be helpful too! Read on to learn a couple of reasons why and how you can benefit from adding in more hydration during the day:
#6, Memory and focus will improve (and who doesn't need that!?) Your brain relies heavily on having enough fluid to function. Your synapses and neurons need proper hydration to fire adequately. According thisresearch dehydration is one of the most reliable predictors in the decline of memory, focus and mental performance. According the same article, nearly 75% of Americans are dehydrated! If you aren't sure of the signs of dehydration, learn them here.
Even mild dehydration messes with proper brain function.
#7, Muscle strength and speed will improve. According to this research, our difficulty to lift, run or our lack of motivation can be due to dehydration. The right amount of H2o can keep our muscles relaxed which increases our performance.
#8, Think you are hungry? You might just be thirsty. Try reaching for a glass of water instead of a snack. Many people mistake thirst for hunger.
These are just some of the multitude of reasons to drink more water and why to start your day with it as well. My personal favorite is to drink my water with some Young Living Lemon Vitality Oil. I will also sometimes add a slice of lemon but by using the vitality essential oil, I can avoid any possible harm to my teeth and if the lemons don't look good at the store, I'm still set for the day! Plus, I prefer to carry a small bottle of essential oil with rather than a whole lemon or lemon slices. LOL. Young Living also carries many more options for flavoring my water as well: Orange Vitality, Jade Lemon Vitality, Grapefruit Vitality, Tangerine Vitality, Citrus Fresh Vitality (this one is a blend of several citrus oils and spearmint). If you want to know more about Young Living's line of essential oils and essential oil infused products, then go here. If you are interested in getting your own essential oils and learning more, then please go here.
Have a great day and go get a glass of water!
Do you find yourself "hungry" 20 minutes after dinner, but you felt full when you left the table? Do you wander aimlessly into the kitchen, opening cabinet after cabinet, but never finding what you want? Do you eat more when you're upset? These can be indicators of emotional
eating. Read on to discover possible reasons and triggers and some tips to help you overcome!
Emotional eating is the use of food to make yourself feel better; You eat to satisfy emotional needs, rather than physical hunger. Emotions like boredom, loneliness, stress, sadness and grief can often trigger us to look into the cabinet, fridge or freezer to distract ourselves from the feelings we are experiencing or to self-soothe.
We rarely do this when we feel good; Happiness, elation and excitement don't often produce a desire to self soothe or a need to distract ourselves from those types of feelings. Those are the ones we want to carry with us all day. We need to be realistic though, life is hard! We can't be happy 24/7 and it's ok to feel bad sometimes. It's our reluctance to deal with the tough emotions that leads us to reach for those cookies, ice cream or other non-nutritious foods. Let's be real, we don't reach for an apple or broccoli when we are sad or angry, am I right?!? But, even if we did, eating to take the place of dealing with one's emotions is still not a healthy habit to have.
How do we recognize, process and come out on the other side all while avoiding the kitchen or the local convenience store for junk "food" to temporarily soothe our feelings? Well, first I think you need to know the signs of emotional "hunger" v. physical hunger.
There is a difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Most of us don't stop and take the time to differentiate between the two. Physical hunger comes on more gradually, you are generally open to all foods, it's based in the stomach, coming from a physical need, you will make deliberate choices and have an awareness of eating and you stop when you are full.
Emotional eating is different; It is sudden. You usually want a very specific food and it's all "above the neck," the stomach is not involved. It is urgent and paired with an upsetting emotion. It also involves absent minded eating and you won't stop when you're full. You might even feel guilty afterwards.
I think a key part of this is to learn to be comfortable with your feelings, identify them, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to quickly get over them or be constantly happy/joyful. It's ok to have times and moments of sadness, frustration, anger, etc.. Instead of reaching for that pint of Haagen Das, reach for your journal and write it down, go for a walk, grab a glass of water instead or phone a friend! There is nothing wrong with our feelings, it's what we DO as a result of them that often gets us into trouble.
New Year's Resolutions. We all make them. We all fail to follow through. We are full of expectation, motivation and determination.. until we aren't. How can we actually start something and keep it going? That's the million dollar question right? I hope I might have a cheaper answer for you, one that is easier and won't break the bank, or you.
I think we set ourselves up to fail. We dream too big and too broad. We don't make our goals personal enough. We want to ACHIEVE. ALL. THE. THINGS. We are influenced by peer pressure. Instead of making goals, intentions and resolutions that are personal to us, we try to do what everyone else is doing. And that, my friend, is why we fail.
Your best friend is going to lose weight, declutter and stop drinking on weeknights. "Oh, I'll do that too!" you say. Your sister is going to exercise more, drink more water and read 1 book a week. "Great", you say, "I want to do that!". You hear a co-worker talking about living minimally, creating an amazing kitchen pantry and doing more charity work. "Hmmm", you say to yourself, "I need to do those things too" and before long your list of resolutions is a full page long, NONE of it was your original thought and you feel overwhelmed, defeated and like a failure before you have even begun or before the countdown has started on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve!
My friend, you self sabotaged yourself. You literally set yourself up for failure.
Your goals, intentions and resolutions need to be personal and thought out. They need to be simple and doable. Here are some suggestions on how to set reasonable goals and stick with them:
1. Don't make a notebook page full of goals, resolutions and intentions. Make 1, 2 or 3. NO more than 5. You have to reasonable or you won't follow through.
2. You need to set them before New Year's Eve, but even doing it now is good. It really doesn't matter when you start, as long as you start. Don't give up just because you didn't begin January 1st.
3. Don't revive an old resolution that you previously failed at.
4. Don't base your goal on what everyone else is doing.
5. Break down your goal into smaller steps. Set dates for when you will achieve those smaller steps. Work backwards from the end results to get those smaller steps leading up to the finished goal.
6. Be accountable. Telling family and friends can help you keep your word to yourself.
7. Remind yourself of WHY you made the goal in the first place and and of the benefits. Stick up post it notes, or set reminders on your phone.
8. Reward yourself for reaching those smaller goals on your way to the finish line! These don't have to be large or expensive. Rent a movie, buy a favorite coffee, or small treat.
9. Write down your plans and progress. Journaling can really come in handy. You will see how far you have come!
10. Don't quit because of a momentary set-back. Get up and keep going!
I like to think of them as intentions, instead of resolutions. I have activities that I'm wanting to be more intentional about in the coming year. I know that is takes approximately 21 days to change a habit, so I'm also focusing on making it through that first 21 days, or 3 weeks, whichever sounds better! If I can make it that far, then it should get easier from there.
If you give a specific goal some time, and you aren't doing well with it, it might be the wrong goal for you. Maybe it wasn't personal enough, maybe you didn't set measurable small steps to get you there. Don't quit; Just re-evaluate and make some changes. The important thing is don't just give up because of one bad day, or even one bad moment on your way to the big goal. Life will give us challenges and we need to rise to meet them instead of letting them run us over.
Here are my personal goals and intentions for 2019:
*Daily prayer and quiet time before starting my day. (This has been the BEST thing for me! It helps me stay more calm, focused and relaxed throughout the day!)
*Kick the soda habit once and for all.
*Lose weight by finding some form of movement I like while also be more mindful of what I eat, how much, when and WHY. Eliminate grains and cut back on sugar! (The holiday goodies really got me this year!)
*Be more intentional about my relationships with my children and friends.
*Stop the morning FB scroll. Limit this time by setting a timer or mentally checking a time on my clock that I will stop at. (So far, so good with this one... I have had extra time during the day and it has made me much less stressed!)
Share yours in the comments! I hope you have a Blessed year and reach all your goals!