If you read this blog, you likely suffer from feeling no emotion at all or being overly-emotional. I’m lucky enough to say, I’ve been in both pairs of shoes! (That was a sarcasm joke. We like those here.) Considering my experiences, I wanted to write a brief guide to teach those of you who have a hard time feeling anything to feel. For those of you who are always in your feelings, I want to establish some ground-rules for when to feel.
**This disclaimer appears a lot on this blog, so I apologize if you’re a regular visitor but I have to point out that I am not at all, nor will I ever probably be an expert, doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or anybody remotely important enough to diagnose anyone ever.**
Now here’s my un-expert opinion on how to flip-out and when to do so.
For the Emotionless:
You never feel like there’s a right time to cry. You’ve probably had someone make fun of you for being emotional at some point in your young life, or you honestly just can’t get the energy to form a deep-felt emotion. I need you to stop being afraid that someone is going to see you broken. God is going to take your brokenness and turn it into something good (Jeremiah 31:13) He will only allow the right people to see you broken for His glory. Here are your practices for establishing healthy emotional boundaries when you feel numb:
- Go where you can be alone at least once a week. Make it a habit. You don’t need to cry every time, you just need to be where you can process your thoughts. I know that your thoughts as someone who has a mental illness can be scary, but we’re moving past fear today sister, or at least just this one. If your thoughts truly scare you that much, please seek professional help.
- After you’ve done this a couple times, and you hopefully move past being scared of your own thoughts, start to do a study on healthy emotions. I’m not even asking that it be biblical this time, just look for a good book about healthy emotions or a blog post, or even talk to a friend about what they do when they’re _______ (ex. Sad, angry, lonely, etc.) Whatever you’re struggling with research it. Figure out what is healthy if no one has told you before. I’m sure there’s some good TedTalks on this too!
- Recognize that even Jesus wept. (John 11:35). It is not a sin to cry, or to feel. It’s what you do with your feelings that causes you to sin.
- Join a support group or find accountability. SOOOOO lame sounding, I know girl. I don’t mean you necessarily have to go to one of those rooms with other people and sound out your thoughts about your week. There’s a lot of great tools online now for support and recovery. I have heard nothing but good things about a church program called Celebrate Recovery. If you’re not brave enough for that yet, simply ask a close friend to hold you accountable for your emotions. This could mean what you want it to mean, but I like the idea of having someone ask you weekly about how you’ve been feeling, and what you’ve been holding in for too long. Counseling is also a great place for these kinds of talks and self-examinations.
- Finally, take your mask off. All of the steps above have been leading you to this one. You can’t hide from God. He knows how you feel. Your close friends should know how you feel. There is no reason to feel ashamed for having a bad day because most likely, life threw you something that day that made you feel emotional. Having a bad day is a good sign for you! You’re overcoming your fear of feeling. Keep learning, talking, and sharing.
For the Overly-emotional:
Whenever something bad happens in the world, in your family, or at work you feel the sudden urge to react, whether that be with tears or with words. You let your emotions guide your decisions and forget to do a rational check-up on yourself beforehand. I recognize that God has given us each different personalities, and having an emotional character trait that makes it easier for you to cry compared to others is not wrong. Not handling yourself with self-control is (Proverbs 16:32).
Here are the steps you can take to begin to form a behavioral and emotional pattern of self-control:
- When you feel strongly about something take just 5 minutes to analyze the what, when, how, why, and where questions about your situation. Use your lifelines: phone a friend, rant, do what you need to do before you do something stupid, like pull a Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood on your ex’s car.
- Set aside time in your day, when you’re alone, to process your feelings about the situation that’s triggered you. Don’t react to something in public. You could be setting yourself up for something embarrassing, dangerous, or just silly. If you need to yell, scream, or cry and feel like you just can’t hold it in go to your car. That’s my favorite place. If you think you can wait, do so.
- For the love, don’t post about it on social media. If you and your boyfriend had a fight, the world does not need to know how upset you are, how mean he is, or that you cried about it for 3 hours. If anything, just turn of your phone and unplug for the next hour or so to meditate on your emotions and pray.
- Realize that some things take time. Learn patience. The issue that has you so riled up is probably not going to resolve itself in one day. Sleep on it, but don’t go to bed angry, because that is a sin. (Ephesians 4:26)
- Develop a plan for resolution. I like to think about the serenity prayer here. What can you control, and what do you have to leave up to God? I find that most of the time, we can’t control much, so it’s up to us to let things go. I think you’ll find that most often, that is your plan for resolution. (Proverbs 19:21)
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8