How to Tame Your Emotions
Emotions can be overpowering forces in our lives that seem to bend us to their will. Have you ever asked, “How can I control my emotions?” Here are some tips.
Even when we try to rationally handle and control our feelings and emotions, they can still get the best of us. How many times have we heard comments like these?
- “You’re too emotional.”
- “Control yourself.”
- “Get a hold of yourself.”
- “Calm down.”
We can all experience random feelings from day to day. But for some of us, emotions can turn into revolving cycles of truly “out of control” circumstances. It’s as if our emotions take over and don’t give up their power easily.
How can you begin to control your emotions?
Are you a slave to your emotions?
Those of us struggling with our emotions do not usually see ourselves as being “too emotional,” but rather that we can’t seem to control what is happening to us. But if we feel our emotions are out of control, we should consider that we are allowing ourselves to come under a form of slavery.
Romans 6:16 states, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”
Emotions become a problem when they overpower our thinking and the influence of God’s Word in our lives. Experiencing emotions is certainly not sin in itself. After all, the Bible is clear that God has emotions! To learn more about the emotions God has, read “Emotions in the Bible.”
But emotions become a problem when they overpower our thinking and the influence of God’s Word in our lives. For example, when we struggle to control fear and anxiety, we may have a difficult time trusting God’s perfect will and plan for our lives. Or when we struggle to control the emotions of despair and hopelessness, it is very hard to be a positive example of God’s way of life to the world around us.
In fact, when we are slaves to negative emotions, we put our use of all the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) in serious jeopardy. Consider:
- How can we show love and goodness if we are slaves to the emotion of jealousy?
- How can we show joy and gentleness if we are slaves to the emotions of inferiority and self-criticism?
- How can we show peace and kindness if we are slaves to the emotion of anger?
- How can we show longsuffering if we are slaves to the emotion of frustration?
- How can we show faithfulness if we are slaves to the emotions of anxiety and worry?
- And how can we show self-control if we cannot control the emotions that hinder the other fruit of the Spirit?
To learn more about these nine essential characteristics, read “The Fruit of the Spirit.”
How to take control of emotions
To win back control of our emotions, we have to first analyze ourselves to identify why the feelings come in the first place. Sometimes feelings seem to just explode into our minds, and then we begin to dwell on them and feed them.
However, though many times it doesn’t seem like it, we always have trigger thoughts that precede our emotions. These thoughts are what spark the feelings. These trigger thoughts must be our first point of attack against negative emotions.
We should try to pinpoint, and write down and keep track of, the specific thoughts that led to our emotion. Then we should ask ourselves these questions:
- Are these thoughts rational and based on fact from the Bible?
- Are these thoughts irrational and based on lies from society?
- Do these thoughts conform to the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
- Are these thoughts fair to others and myself?
- How long am I going to let my unhealthy thoughts continue to lead to negative emotion?
Controlling our thoughts
We can become so used to immediate, negative emotion that we hardly even notice the thought process that leads to it. In order to truly take back control of our emotions, we have to take back control of the thought patterns that led us there.
Although there is some validity in attempting to change our environment and life circumstances, many things that come at us in life are not things we have control of. There are some things we can control, and we should diligently do what we can to decrease the environmental stimuli that may lead to negative emotions. However, the rest of our experiences are not under our control, and so it is important to learn the godly way to respond (and not respond) in our thinking.
Replacing negative thoughts
Wrong thoughts that lead to overwhelming emotions must not just be removed; they have to be replaced.
Notice Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
When we effectively replace wrong thinking with God’s thinking, it is amazing the effect it can have on our emotional states.
To truly tame our emotions, we must make a conscious choice to break free from their domination, compare our thinking with God’s perspective and, through God’s Holy Spirit working in us, replace our thinking accordingly.
Commit to stopping the vicious cycle now and regain control over your emotions!