How To Dispel Negative Emotions
Most of us don’t savor our negative emotions but they still come up at times, particularly at difficult times. Why should we care about negative emotions? Most importantly because they don't lead to God's best for us.
Negative emotions rob us of the quality of life we are capable of and of the abundance God has in mind for us.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
~ 2 Timothy 1:7
There are many types of negative emotions ranging from mild to severe. They fall into 4 general categories including fear, anxiety, disgust and anger.
Negative emotions include (but are not limited to) feeling:
There may be others you can think of that are not listed here.
It might be helpful to think of a negative emotion as a warning light on your automobile dashboard. If you choose to ignore it, your car could develop a much bigger problem later on. But, if you take it to a mechanic, you’ll find out the extent of the problem. Then, you can take care of it while it’s still a minor matter.
This is very similar to noticing any negative emotions. Once you are aware of their existence you can do what’s necessary to diffuse them so that things don’t get worse.
Emotions don’t just stay in your mind. Because you are a whole being, one thing affects another. If negative emotions are allowed to continue and expand unchecked, they can become toxic. Toxic emotions can create very serious physiological consequences. So regaining your inner peace must be a top priority.
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The process: A situation occurs. We have a thought about it based on the filter created by our personal values. This creates an emotion, which causes a behavior.
God wants you to be healthy physically and emotionally. When you have emotional pain it’s like a warning light to indicate that there could be any combination of unresolved matters, an imbalance or lack of alignment with God-honoring thoughts.
So let’s take a look at 3 ways we can dispel the effect of negative emotions.
1 - Challenge their validity
Emotions are just feelings you arrive at because of what you are thinking. They are not necessarily the truth. Ask yourself, "Is this always true? Are there any times this is not true?" Your goal is to consider any evidence pointing to this not being true. Consider all exceptions.
Additionally, you won’t find scripture telling you to act on your emotions. If anything, God’s word shows us that things can go very wrong when we act based on our emotions.
We are to be in the world but not of it. If human emotions are holding you captive, you’ll find it extremely difficult to respond in a God-honoring way.
2 - Own your emotions
What I mean by this is for you to take responsibility for your thoughts. What you are thinking is leading to the way you feel. Your thoughts are your responsibility. The choice to believe them or not is entirely yours. No one can change your thoughts but you.
When you accept responsibility for your thoughts, you do not blame anyone else. When you accept them, they begin to dissolve because you realize they might not be entirely rational.
Ask yourself, “how else can I think about this?“ Consider at least 3 to 4 other options.
3 - Adjust your focus.
Remember that we will always move in the direction of our focus. If you want to drown out a negative narrative, you need to change your focus.
Begin by asking yourself to identify your goal in the situation. What outcome do you want? Will your negative emotions take you closer to your goal or push you in a less desirable direction? What's at stake if I remain on my current path?
When you change your focus, you will change your life’s direction.
Sometimes negative thoughts are a little more than a habit. The good news is that habits can be broken. This means that by changing your thoughts, you can change your emotions as well as your behaviors and results.
Our goal should be to have the mind of Christ. In our prayers, we can ask God to show us how Jesus would look at the situation and how he would respond in our place.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8
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