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The 4P’s of Emotional Management

Sometimes emotions feel like a powerful force….like a tsunami of emotions that blow over us and consume us in what feels like uncontrollable ways.  I believe that our emotions are perfect.  God can and does communicate with us by using our emotions.  He can tell us about our relationships, situations and surroundings with our emotions.  But, because of our past experiences in life, we may interpret our emotions in an inaccurate or incomplete way.  In other words, our life experiences get in the way of what God is trying to communicate to us.

If we begin to understand our emotions and follow God’s advice of experiencing our emotions we can begin to interpret our emotional experiences in a more healthy way.  We need to begin to identify the emotion.  Then, we can CHOOSE an action to that emotion rather than having a REACTION to what is being felt.

To do this…I have come up with a 4 P’s plan of action to help manage and interpret emotions….

1)     Pace – often emotions are bound up in a lot of adrenaline and energy.  You need to burn this off and reengage the language center in your brain.  (The language and processing center of the human brain shuts down when there is a perceived threat to a person’s wellbeing and adrenaline starts to flow.)  So Pace – burn off some of that energy.  While pacing make sure that you breathe deeply into your diaphragm in a slow and complete way.  These two things will help convince your brain that you are not in eminent physical danger and your brain starts being human again and reengages your language/processing center.

2)    Pray – now that your language/processing center is reengaged you have words to use and you can pray.  You can begin to speak and listen with words and process the language involved, while asking for God’s guidance and direction in regards to what you are to be learning from the emotions that you are experiencing.

3)    Process – After prayer, you can now begin to process what you are feeling through the lens of your experiences with God’s guidance.  Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?”  “Are these feelings having to do with current situations or is there an element to my past that is clouding my lens?”  “In which way do I feel God nudging me?”   It may take a number of hours/days/weeks before you feel you’ve completed the processing step.

4)    Proceed – When you feel that you have a clearer picture of what your feelings are and what they are trying to tell you, you are now in a position to proceed.  You need to choose an ACTION rather than having a REACTION to your feelings.   What will you choose to do with the feelings that you are experiencing?  What choice will be good and honorable to support your position and lessons learned?

 

To help you learn and process more about your feelings, think and journal about the following questions.

A)    Which feelings do I turn loose?  What are my triggers?  What am I afraid of if I experience my feelings?

B)    What feelings do I deny or stuff away?  Aren’t they important?  Aren’t they worthy of my time and attention?  When I deny my feelings do I ever experience a time in the future when they seem to bubble up and flow out from nowhere spilling out on the people around me?

C)    Or do I… bring my emotions to God?  Do I talk to God about what I am feeling?  Do I ask him what to do with these feelings?  Am I honest with him AND myself?

 

 

Posted in Living a Happy Life, Relationships.

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Christmas Love

Have you ever been in love?  You know, that obsessive feeling where you just can’t get your love out of your head.  You think of your love often and wonder what your love is doing.  You want to share the joys of a wonderful day with your love.  Or, maybe, you’ve heard some bad news and you just need your love to share the burden.  No matter what you do or think about, your consciousness relentlessly wanders to thoughts of your love.

Many of us are familiar with this kind of love and the inescapable obsession that comes with it.  Experts refer to this as infatuation and have sought to understand the way it makes us feel.  Often, it can lead to a feeling of exhaustion as our body’s adrenaline is drained to fuel it.  It’s been discovered that the same areas of our brain that ignite from obsessive compulsive disorder are active during feelings of infatuation.  But, that’s also why this feeling tends to subside over time.  It has to; our body can’t sustain the intense love energy.  This is a shortcoming that God does not share.  His infatuation for us never dies.  It has been and continues to go on and on and on.

Even though we falter and walk away from him, God is still is obsessed with us.  We see him tirelessly reaching out to us time and time again in the Bible.  He is always trying to reconnect and bring us back to him even though we seem to always let him down.  So, almost 2000 years ago, he upped the game.  If humanity refused to go to him, he would to come to us.   John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

He loves us so much that he came to be with us – to be one with us, one of us.  He was and is still here.   “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:20.

My prayer for you is that you not only remember how much you are loved but also that you may become obsessed with your ultimate lover.   Take in his love, experience his love and share his love with everyone you meet.

Prayer

Heavenly and gracious Father, help us to be obsessed with you and your grace.  May we always and forever be filled with infatuation for you, wondering what you think and feel and trying to figure out new ways to tell you just how much we love you.  Let it not recede nor subside.  Help us break down the walls of business, frustration, fear, loneliness and whatever else gets in the way of our hearts being able to experience your love.  Help us always remember that no height or depth, nor any other barrier in existence will be able to separate us from the love that is Christ Jesus our Lord.  Help us be so filled with your love that it bubbles up inside of us and spills over into the world around us.  And may we all remember to tell you each and every day, “I love you!”

In your precious son, Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Posted in Meditations/Devotions.

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Avoiding Holiday Stress

The stress-filled time of the holidays is officially creeping up on us.  Just last week while I was checking out the post-Halloween candy sale isle in the local discount store, I overheard two women lamenting on the length of their Christmas shopping lists.  I was saddened that these two women were already consumed with thoughts of Christmas shopping even though it was only the first week of November.

As I turned the corner and went to the next ‘seasonal’ isle, I became very aware of why they had been lamenting.  The Christmas tree display was up and twinkling and the isles that once were full of costumes and candy were now full of ornaments, lights, wreaths, wrapping paper, garland, stockings, etc.  And to think that I was planning on buying an autumn mum that day!  No such luck!  Where the mums had been displayed a week before, there were now wonderful red poinsettias.  How did I miss the autumn mums on November 2nd!?  Could I find any holiday napkins and plates for Thanksgiving Dinner?  No!  I couldn’t find them anywhere.  They were replaced by napkins with snowmen, trees, poinsettias, etc.  I was too late for Thanksgiving?!  (Don’t even get me started on the television ads and mail order industries!)

It really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

The holidays, under the best of circumstances, start triggering excessive stress.  It is undeniable.  When we start thinking of ‘family time’ and holiday schedules blood pressures usually begin to rise, almost immediately.  (Can you feel the tension tighten in your neck just as you read this?)

Holiday stress is much more common than people realize.  As a matter of fact, November 1st brings about the busiest time of year for most mental health professionals.  Our calendars will be pretty full from now through the end of February.  The primary request is almost always the same, “Jackie, please help me mentally prepare for the agony of family time/holiday schedules/dwindling money.  I just don’t know how to handle _____!”  (You fill in the name of the family members, party, friends, obligations, etc.)

I anticipate that the stress of the holidays will seem a little more overwhelming this year.  With the election, the economy, the possible (or realized) lack of job security…our Stress Platter is pretty full already and we’ve only just begun.  Add to the above the historical “button pushing” that our family members are famous for and our cup will runneth over with the stress experience.  We, as a society and individually, are on overload.  It is too much stress for any one person to handle.

I have come up with a list of 10 simple stress management techniques that (if you practice them) will help you manage what otherwise may seem like too much.  Remember (and this is important)…you have to use these tips in order for them to work.

1)         Stay focused on the reason for the season.  Between now and New Year’s Eve, focus on why we are celebrating at all this time of year.

   Thanksgiving was first designed as a celebratory way to give thanks to God for the gifts experienced in the new land of freedom.  It wasn’t an easy life.  Actually, it was a difficult and hard life, but the pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for all they had been given.  “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (Ephesians 5:20)

  Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the birth of our Savior who paid the price of our sins.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)  God brought salvation and peace through the birth of Christ.  WOW!  A time that was originally given to us to celebrate our salvation turned into a high-stress season?!  We added the pressure of gifts, holiday gatherings and parties, and disappointed expectations – that was never part of the original package.  We sure messed up a good thing there!

  New Year is the final in the celebration trio.  To many people, the new year represents the gift of new opportunities or a time to start living true to how God directs them to live.  This gift is not designed to add more stress into the new year, but rather to bring hope and a reminder that God is still here.   Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”  (Hebrews 10:36)

2)         Simplify!  How many trees do you need to put up and how many decorations do you really need to display?  Take a look at your calendar, prioritize and then erase EVERYTHING that you can cut out from the obligations of the season.  Take time to smell the turkey and the evergreen!

3)         Under-spend!  Take a look at your shopping/wish lists.  How much do you really need to buy and/or get as gifts?  Maybe you and your peeps can get together and adopt a less fortunate family…feed or clothe the homeless…give to those more in need.  Then, your family celebration can consist of a genuine thanksgiving of all that you enjoy and have surrounding you and you won’t have to worry about how you will pay for everything when January rolls around.

4)        Send out E-Cards and go green!   A subscription to a good greeting card website will not only save you time and money, but it will also save the world a lot of trees and energy.

5)        Remember it is ‘just another day.’  There is a lot of stress experienced by families, blended families and in families with adult children juggling their in-law family activities.  Lighten up and spread out the good cheer.  Who says that Thanksgiving can only be celebrated on a Thursday in November and that a Christmas dinner is less wonderful on December 18th?!   Be flexible in your celebration planning and who knows…you may have a longer, more fulfilling, less stressful season.

6)        Be proactive against loneliness.   For many people, the holidays serve as a painful reminder that they are not in a significant relationship and loneliness can seem overwhelming.  If this happens to be you, then you need to step up to the plate of self care and fill your time with other people.  Volunteer at a shelter, your church, call some other single friends, host a holiday potluck, etc.

7)        Take care of yourself!  Get enough sleep, exercise and eat a healthy – balanced diet.  The more healthy and rested you are, the more stress you will be able to comfortably handle.

8)        Let go of your expectations.  To many, the holidays represent a time to mourn the loss of unmet expectations – either of ourselves or others.  Examine those expectations and then evaluate how important it is to keep holding on to them.  Sometimes, by letting go, we free ourselves to enjoy the people we do have in our lives and the happiness we can experience with them.  Don’t let unmet expectations get in the way of you enjoying all of the wonderfulness you do have to celebrate.

9)        Guard your buttons.  It is important to remember they are your buttons.  Friends and family can only push them if you let them.  Know from where your buttons originate and then keep them in perspective.  Most of the time, we allow our buttons to be pushed based on memories from the past  rather than how things need to be today.  You are an adult now, so don’t let people get to your buttons!

10)    Live Love.  I Corinthians 13 paints a beautiful portrait of what living love looks like.  Make sure you are bringing your loving self to every relationship (even with strangers) this holiday season.  Start everyday with the following prayer…

Heavenly Father, please help me begin and live each day with love.  My prayer today and throughout this holiday season is that I may approach all of my relationships (even with strangers) as you would want me to, with love.  Please help me be more patient, kind, humble, polite, compromising, tolerant, even-tempered, forgiving, justice seeking, honest, perseverant, faithful, hopeful and tolerant.  With these love skills, I know that the gift of love that you have shared with all through your grace will bubble up inside of me and spill out towards all the world.  Help me free my heart of all previous hurts and pains so that I may share with all my friends and family the love that will create a sense of joy in this holiday season and prayerfully throughout the New Year.  In your loving son’s name I pray…Amen!

Posted in Holidays, Relationships.

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