He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. Proverbs 16:32
Home is supposed to be a safe place where we can be ourselves, warts and all. Although I’ve tried and succeeded in creating that safe space for my family, I’ve made an enormous mistake in defining how that works.
I’m one of those people you’ll never see mad in public. I’m a people pleaser: I don’t want to risk hurting or offending anyone. It’s far easier to swallow my anger than it is to apologize for it after the fact.
It’s a whole different story in private. In the safety of my own home, I’ve taken great pride in letting my emotions fly. I want my kids to see that life is hard sometimes; I have my fair share of struggles; and emotions need to be worked through in order to be let go.
The mistake I’ve made is teaching my kids that it’s okay to let our emotions rule us. I honestly believe it’s a mistake society is making as a whole.
In the campaign to “acknowledge and honor our feelings,” a lot of us have transferred our power to our feelings. We’ve raised them up and used them as the excuse for bad behavior and choices.
It’s taken us back to toddler-hood. It may look a little bit different, but we’re still grabbing toys from others just because we want them. We’re hitting others because they hit us first. And we’re kicking and screaming when we don’t get our way.
Just because our feelings get hurt, we don’t have the right to be unkind to another. Just because we’re having a bad day, doesn’t give us permission to fall head-first into our vices to feel better. Just because we’re tired and unmotivated doesn’t make it okay to shirk our responsibilities and let people down. That’s not working through our emotions; That’s using our emotions as a crutch.
Working through our emotions means facing them head on, maturely. First, it’s putting them on ice while we cool down. It’s turning to physical activity to blow off steam. Once our emotions aren’t so escalated, it’s asking ourselves all the necessary “whats.” What happened that triggered the emotion? What was the part we played in the triggering? What’s the change we need to make for it to not happen again?
Those answers are critical. They teach us whether we do need to make a change, the offender needs to be called out, or we need to distance ourselves from the one who hurt us. They teach us to come up with healthy ways to self-sooth on the days that don’t go our way. They teach us to go to bed earlier and recommit to a strong work ethic, just because they’re the right things to do.
Most importantly, we need to elevate the golden rule of “love one another” well above the love of self. When we start thinking more about others, and less about ourselves, it naturally reorders things, putting our emotions in their proper place.
Questions for Reflection:
* Do I allow my emotions to rule me?
* If so, what changes can I make to take back the control and work through them in a healthy way?
Thanks, Claire, for giving us in this reflection, pause to dwell upon these human eruptions from which none of us escape, as long as we’re on the planet!!!
You’ve certainly and honestly spelled out steps we all must take when our emotions, especially anger, anxiety or frustration break out of control. I sum up these steps you mentioned in one practice which I’ve learned only gradually: OWN the out of control emotion as soon as I can, acknowledging that I AM out of control … not wallowing in that energy with a weak thought that I’ll get over it EVENTUALLY!!! I find that the time I spend in my Morning Prayer, in total silence before the Holy Spirit deep within me, prepares me sooner for the healing energy I need when one of these emotions erupts, even for legitimate reasons.
Remembering WHO lives deep within me in total PEACE, LOVE, and CALMNESS,
and that I can GO immediately, if I so choose, to that still, deep CENTER, where HE so faithfully DWELLS, calms my spirit in a shorter space of time than earlier in my life!!
What a WONDERFUL approach to resolving strong emotions, Jackie! You are the exact example we all need to follow. There’s no faster way to resolve our problems, calm our emotions, or find our way back than to be in silence with Him. Thank you for this inspirational solution!!!