Overcoming Dangerous Emotions: The First Month
Even with the previous posts, we still may fail at controlling our emotions. How can we be successful in overcoming our out-of-control emotions?
In this “Overcoming Dangerous Emotions” series we’ve discussed several different emotions (anxiety, anger, self-degradation, jealousy, depression and pride) in general terms. We’ve searched the Scriptures to learn how spiritually dangerous these emotions can be to us as Christians, especially in hindering the fruit of self-control.
We’ve started dissecting each emotion through the cognitive-behavioral lens by identifying the cause of the thinking, analyzing the thinking and comparing it to reality, and replacing the irrational thinking with rational thinking. Finally, we’ve discussed some strategies to use if we find ourselves well past the thinking stage and already losing control.
But we haven’t addressed a very important aspect of the process of change: What does overcoming look like in the first few weeks?
The different possible thoughts, reactions and questions to ask given in this series have been very general for a reason: our individual, personal thoughts may be similar to the examples, but they also may be completely different. The point is to start writing them down, whatever they are, in order to defuse and replace them.
Sample notebook entry
Here is a sample entry in our “overcoming dangerous emotions” notebook:
Date: Nov. 21
Event: during lunch.
Cause: I heard on the radio someone mentioning his struggle with debt.
My Thoughts: “I’m never going to get out of debt. Nothing can get me out of the hole I’m in. I hate going paycheck to paycheck.” I started feeling anxious.
Rational? I used the words never and nothing and hate, and these words are not associated with rational thinking. I also didn’t even think about praying to God or remembering God’s promises to those who diligently follow Him.
Substitute: God gives people power to get wealth. God knows I’m struggling and won’t give me more than I can handle. I should remember to count my blessings since some people don’t even have paychecks. God won’t abandon me.
Be serious about it and keep at it!
Recording our thoughts, reflecting on them and trying to change them as many times as possible during the day can have very positive results. We will have a tendency to try to get out of it, saying we are too busy or that we can’t remember things like that. If we truly are serious about changing, we need to get someone to help us who will see through rationalizations and justifications. If we can’t spend at least 10 minutes a day reflecting on God’s truth and how it directly applies in our lives and thoughts, then we must quickly reassess our priorities as Christians.
Keep 2 Timothy 2:15 in mind as a motivational scripture to help us keep at it: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (emphasis added).
So, keeping up with the notebook is a must in the first month of fighting deeply entrenched dangerous emotions. Here are some other musts:
Planned daily prayer and Bible study
These spiritual tools seem so obvious, but they are too often neglected. Our out-of-control emotions may have driven us away from talking to God and studying His Word. That has to change quickly. To be successful—and to know the sound biblical principles to replace our irrational thinking with—we need to be studying and praying every day.
A few minutes here and a couple minutes there are not nearly enough to build a proper relationship with the only Power in the universe who can truly help us tame our emotions. Remember God said in Jeremiah 32:27: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
Admitting failure and moving forward
Dangerous emotions are powerful and are going to take more than reading a blog series to successfully overcome. They have become so much a part of us that in a strange way we almost depend on them as much as we hate them taking over. This is going to be hard to change, and you will stumble sometimes. However, always remember that “a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16).
We are not defined by our failures, but by our ability to seek God’s help and get back up. Failures should go in our notebooks as learning experiences, as frustrating and embarrassing as they are. Learning these lessons will eventually culminate in blank notebooks.
If we admit we have failures in striving to overcome dangerous emotions, then we also logically admit that we see them as failures and not normal. Much to Satan’s chagrin, we are changing!
Getting help from others
Whether it is a minister, counselor (who is knowledgeable about brain chemistry and possible medication), therapist, spouse, close friend, parent, relative—anyone—we need to have others in the fight helping us.
We must first make God our best friend, praying to Him many times a day in each moment of overwhelming emotion. Think of all the extra prayer we can do when we immediately start praying when we notice our thinking going down the wrong path.
Then, we also need another person with whom we can talk about our progress and find support and accountability. If nothing else, there are online support groups.
Pray for the Kingdom!
Have you ever wondered why emotions can overpower us? It’s because this is Satan’s world and he uses our emotions against us. When we pray fervently for God’s Kingdom to come to this earth, we are telling Satan that we know exactly what he’s trying to do to us, and we don’t want any part of it.
Learn more in the article “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.”
“Do I control my emotions, or do they control me?”
By applying the steps outlined in this series and seeking God’s strength and help, you can gain control.
Fight for your emotional intelligence! Fight for the peace of mind that God’s truth brings! Emotion was meant to be a wonderful thing, and we can experience that again.
This is the eighth article in an eight part series on Overcoming Dangerous Emotions. For the other articles in this series, see:
- Overcoming Dangerous Emotions
- Dealing With Anxiety
- Overcoming Anger
- Overcoming Self-Degradation
- Overcoming Jealousy
- Overcoming Depression
- Overcoming Pride