When do you express your emotions?
When do you suppress them?
I consider myself a fairly intuitive person very much in touch with my emotions. Had I not been spiritually converted (a.k.a. became born-again), I would have been swept and thoroughly overtaken by the “feelingera” me.
Yup, I used to be so emotional (well, I still am). I was a dramatic actress back in my younger days. I could shed a drop of tear or two in a split second just by looking at myself in the mirror, internalizing and imagining a tear-jerking scenario. Didn’t I win Actress of the Night during a province-wide scouting event back in high school? And what about the numerous Miss Talent Awards I received in the beauty pageants I joined? Sure, I didn’t win the major title, but my acting prowess did lead me to land as a runner-up and kept me from being one among the “thank you, girls” left to clap for the winners.
Nope, it didn’t help either that I often found myself an emotional wreck after devouring romance pocketbooks even before hitting puberty. I would go on an emotional high pretending I was THE protagonist in every romantic saga I’d spend long hours straining my eyes on. I would feel so strongly whenever I watched moving films too, especially those that tackle relationships, human struggles, failures, and tragedy. I seemed to dwell solely on situations that made me delve deeply into outlandish emotional outbursts, and wild, over-the-top introspections. I was also super sensitive. I abhorred being criticized. When I got hurt, I loved to lick my wounds and hold a pity party. When I heard someone say something negative about me, I’d give them the dagger look and rip them apart until they die a thousand deaths in my mind.
In short, I was a bundle of nerves!
So it did not come as a surprise when after completing my freshman year in College, I snapped like a frayed cord. I was a ticking time bomb, waiting for just the right moment to explode. That moment came—and the experience was the turning point in my life. I bounced back, but not after learning huge lessons on humility, surrender and gaining eternal perspective. Oh, my. It would take me to plunge first into the deepest pit of despair and despondency before I acknowledged I needed a savior. My emotions pulled me to the precipice of death. Now I wouldn’t want a repeat of that harrowing experience.
So what lessons have I gained from my being an emo girl long before emojis became a permanent fixture in mobile gadgets?
First, that emotions cannot be trusted. Never, never rely on that tingling in your spine and that sudden euphoric sensation that make you believe everything’s a bed of roses, always. We are prone to emotional roller coaster rides—no particular emotion is meant to stay or stick with you on a permanent basis.
Remember the time you got smitten over the high school heartthrob? You would feel like there was a stampede of a thousand hyennas in your chest. And that euphoric feeling every time he would look at you? My, you wouldn’t know whether you’d pee or not. It certainly happened to me. But I soon got over those feelings; the excitement reached a plateau and eventually fizzled out.
Second, acknowledge that your emotions can get the better of you, unless you decide long before those “snapping” situations come that you will resist its power over you. Anger, according to the psalmist, “resides in the lap of fools.”
Third, we need to find balance/establish equilibrium in the different dimensions we are made of. Know that we are composed of body, soul and spirit. The body is the physical part of us which we must feed with proper nutrition, exercise and right amount of rest to function well. Our soul consists of our mind, emotions and will all rolled into one. Our decisions in life emanates from it. While the Spirit is that part of us that connects us to our maker and tells us there’s more to this earthly life we lead. All three dimensions are, I have learned, interconnected as what we choose to do (i.e satisfy our desires) affect our body and spirit.
Finding balance also means that we may need to tame fleshly desires and soulish pursuits and inclinations to strengthen our spiritual life which is what we need to focus on. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2Corinthians 4:18).
This means we should not allow our emotions to rule. In the first place, our “heart” is deceitful above all else. And I believe our emotions can only be tamed up to the extent we allow the Spirit of God to reside in us, and take full control. Otherwise, the tug of war between our emotions and spirit continues.
I have been a believer since my deliverance from the clutches of the enemy—the devil. I learned however that we need to constantly surrender our emotions moment by moment. My being a believer does not automatically change my emotional makeup. I am prone to have emotional outbursts still, despite knowing that being angry may lead me to sin (and often, it does). In my mind, I still curse and entertain destructive thoughts against others who tend to hurt me. I tend to fight back with unspoken ferocity I would often feel ashamed of when I return to my “senses.”
While I acknowledge that having untamed emotions could lead me to precarious situations and may lead me to do things I would certainly regret later, it is but right to keep a tight rein on them. Question is where do I start?
Repent I must.
I also need to decisive and consistent as I follow some practical steps.
- Soak my mind with the Word of God.
- Limit my exposure to perverse speech and corrupt talk so prevalent and common in social media.
- Choose to watch cerebral and inspiring movies than emotionally-stirring ones.
It’s a struggle. But I hope to one day be totally delivered from this internal enemy that’s part of man’s fallen nature.
How about you, how do you deal with suppressed emotions?