Most of us can point to our greatest regrets in life as things we did or didn’t do when our emotions were in control. It’s always a mistake to let your emotions guide you. Facts–Faith–Feelings. Feelings are a blessing when they follow, but a curse when they lead.
But the real problem for most of us is the heat of the moment. It’s when we are in the middle of overwhelming feelings, whether it be anger or anxiety or lust, that we tend to do things that create havoc in our lives. So what do you do when in the heat of the moment? How can you keep yourself from making a big mistake when your emotions are blasting off?
Five Steps to Overcome Overwhelming Emotions
• Pray. This isn’t thrown in the list to Christianize a practical post. For me, everything is spiritual. And immediately connecting our emotions to our spirit and bringing the matter before God is the most important step. Your success in the four following steps will depend on you praying. By praying, you are able to step back from the situation that is setting you on edge. It will enable you to see the bigger picture, that your life is a lot more than whatever it is you are struggling with. And it reminds you of God’s sovereignty, that he has allowed this and knows you can handle it. Don’t skip over this! Pray! Ask God to calm you down, ask him to give you the right perspective and wisdom. Give your feelings and your choices to him. Promise you’ll do your best to respond in a way that pleases him.
• Analyze. Ask yourself, “Why are my feelings so overwhelming? What am I thinking that is bothering me so much? What do I think is being threatened?”
• Acknowledge. We are all prone to sin, and especially so when emotions are about to take over. So acknowledge that, especially what your sin tendency is. Admit anything you have done that might have contributed to the problem, and acknowledge what you feel like doing now, as well as what damage that could create. Once you acknowledge what you feel like doing, you can be almost certain what you should not do.
• Choose. Decide now to honor God and do the right thing, no matter how you feel. At this point, hopefully the previous steps have helped you to separate your decision-making apparatus from your emotions, and your choice will be based on knowledge, wisdom, and love for God, rather than emotions.
• Act. Those emotions have given you energy…energy to do something. But now you’ve decided the something you should do is probably the exact opposite of what you feel like doing. So instead of lashing out, respond in kindness. Instead of giving in to temptation, do something loving for the person or people who would have been hurt by that. Out-of-control emotions are very self-focused. But redirecting your attention to productive actions, things that would be pleasing to God and loving to others, it shifts that self-focus to being a blessing. It’s amazing how good and loving actions quickly dispel harmful overwhelming feelings.
It’s easy to say, “control your emotions.” It’s another to actually do so when you are in the heat of the moment. But taking these fives steps can walk you out of the moment and allow you to use that emotional energy in a God-honoring and positive way.