Managing emotions can be tricky, exhausting, and a huge distraction.
At times managing emotions seems similar to managing a pesky fly swarming around your head.
You grow weary of managing emotions and getting them under control, so your feelings begin to accumulate like a layer of dust on your spirit.
And then one day you are triggered and spread your collected emotions all over the place like the aftermath of a nasty sneeze.
Harbored, escalating emotions are all-consuming and irritating to ourselves and to others. If you don’t manage emotions in a healthy way, they consume you and affect the people around you.
When you learn how to identify and manage emotions…smack those flies swarming around…you open space to grow personally, spiritually, and live more freely.
Remember managing emotions does not mean becoming emotionless. Your emotions are a unique part of who you are.
But in the tornado of your thoughts, positive emotions can be lost if you are not careful. The pleasant emotions that help you bask in peace and love–Joy, Serenity, Gratitude, Hope, Inspiration, Excitement–are left dormant.
“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”
Proverbs 4:23 GNT
A relationship with Christ helps you celebrate positive emotions while managing emotions that steal your identity and your peace. The good news is you can work on not being defined or ruled by negative emotions.
Learning to experience positive emotions while keeping negative emotions in check is the key to managing emotions; not being controlled by emotions but being driven by the spirit of God.
“Unlike small children, adults are expected to be able to manage their emotions—especially anxiety and anger—in a manner that is socially acceptable.
When emotional control fails, people often say or do things they later regret and wish they had been able to keep their emotions in check.”
“Oh, praise the Lord, for he has listened to my pleadings! He is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trusted in him, and he helped me. Joy rises in my heart until I burst out in songs of praise to him.”
Psalm 28:6-7 TLB
Types of Emotional Pain
Managing emotions is often complicated by loss and emotional pain; you feel managing emotions is out of reach because you are discouraged and consumed by hurt.
Emotional pain is real, hurts deeply, and causes your emotions to flare up.
Emotional pain can hit similar to physical pain and sometimes feels worse. There are many types of emotional pain that affect us in different ways.
At times it seems easier to take a blow than to endure the pain associated with grief, disappointment, anger, and resentment.
4 Types of Emotional Pain
Here are four types of emotional pain that make managing emotions particularly challenging.
Not all disappointment is a big deal, but some disappointment negatively affects you. Disappointment can hit unexpectedly, linger and act as a roadblock to managing emotions.
If you are not careful, disappointment collects and starts eroding pieces of your heart.
Resentment is a bitter root planted when you feel you have been treated unfairly.
You must be willing to pluck out the root of your resentment and forgive or bitterness slowly becomes a part of who you are.
You may not realize you are struggling with the pain of resentment until you have to deal with the person who hurt you, lost a friend or someone points it out. Resentment is sneaky and extremely toxic which makes managing emotions very difficult.
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Hebrews 12:15 NLT
Anger is an emotion that is fueled by antagonism toward someone or something that you think is wrong.
If you capture and manage anger before it erupts and dispels negativity it can serve a good purpose.
But untamed anger is dangerous and destroys relationships.
I am not an angry person and did not grow up with much anger in my family. But I have witnessed anger in relationships that has been extremely destructive and painful.
When anger is part of the story it is such a big distraction that managing emotions may not appear on the radar or seem important.
Grief is the expression of deep sadness and sorrow. It erupts from the loss of something you value and love.
When you learn how to deal with grief spiritually, it transforms how you grieve and helps you walk beside others who are grieving instead of being isolated.
Dealing with grief spiritually doesn’t remove the sting or crippling pain. Grief typically makes managing emotions seem impossible, sets you back, and requires you to pay attention.
Which type of emotional pain has the biggest impact on you?
You may not struggle with anger or resentment but grief or disappointment kidnaps your emotions.
It is helpful to take an emotional inventory to determine if neglect of identifying and managing emotions is keeping you spiritually exhausted.
How to Grow Spiritually Through Emotional Pain
It is extremely painful to stub a toe. I speak from experience!
One day as I zoomed around my den, I caught my small toe on the corner of a laundry basket….ouch! Just like that, it was broken. Immediately it was extremely painful and then I slowly found relief from the pain.
As you process the pain, your emotions grow and get worse. It seems you are constructing a huge wall to enclose your heart and keep it safe.
If you are not careful negative emotions take you places either internally or externally that you would rather not visit.
Spiraling emotions capture your thoughts, imagination, isolate you, and redirect your purpose.
Abraham, King David, Jesus, and Peter all had strong emotions as did every character in the Bible. They were human just like us and faced emotional struggles; although some did a better job of managing emotions than others.
“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
Romans 12:2 NLT
It is ok to feel and be emotional. Look at King David who was very emotional and was referred to as a man after God’s own heart.
“God said, I have found David son of Jesse a man after My own heart…” Acts 13:22
Emotions get unhealthy when you are ruled by them instead of God.
“In every situation, we can turn to a God who comforts us, a God who holds us and strengthens us through anxious moments. He doesn’t expect us to keep it together, and He doesn’t ask us to. He simply calls us to come to Him as we are.”
“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.”
Romans 6:4 NLT
Tips for Managing Emotions
I love emotional, passionate people. The idea is not to kill your emotions but to learn how to manage them so you can live at peace and experience positive relationships with God and others.
If you are an emotional person, it is helpful to have tools available for managing emotions as they arise so you don’t chronically struggle with spiritual fatigue.
The focus of these five tips is to help you grow spiritually and live a better altogether life as a Christ-follower.
5 Tips for Managing Emotions
There are many tips for managing emotions. Here are five that are helpful for me.
- Start each day with gratitude. When you take inventory of the blessings in your life you feed joy instead of negative emotions like resentment.
- When emotional pain rises up, capture your thoughts and offer them to God. Don’t let your thoughts pile up like Jenga blocks. You know the game of building a tower; when one wrong block is removed the whole tower collapses.
- Have a diversion strategy to distract and reroute you. This is particularly important when emotional pain is fresh and all-consuming. We all need to grieve losses but grief and hurt can saturate you unless you intentionally replenish your soul with Jesus.
- Cry out to Jesus. And repeat. Jesus never tires or grows weary of our pain. Jesus cried out to God which gives us permission to do the same.
“While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.” Hebrews 5:7
- Be transparent with close friends who are willing to listen and help with managing emotions so you can grow in the process. Healing begins when we express our feelings with someone we trust even if no advice is needed or offered.
Scriptures on Managing Emotions
I love reading scripture or listening to worship music when my emotions threaten to run wild.
God’s words ground you and bring peace.
I used to quickly tell someone my story when something happened and my feelings were hurt—sharing is an important part of managing emotions.
But turning to Jesus first calms you and brings peace; often you won’t need to tell anyone else.
The book of Psalms is a great place to find comfort when you are managing emotions.
It seems King David was an extremely emotional person who wrote many of the Psalms to help with managing emotions and drawing closer to God. These beautiful words can help you with managing emotions today.
5 Scriptures on Managing Emotions
#1 Managing emotions knowing God is your hope
“We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.”
#2 Managing Emotions knowing God frees you from fear
“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
Psalm 34:4-5 NLT
#3 Managing Emotions knowing God is yours forever
“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:26 NLT
#4 Managing Emotions knowing God is your savior
“Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
Psalm 42:11 NLT
#5 Managing Emotions knowing God takes care of you
“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”
Psalm 55:22 NLT
What is your emotional temperature? Do you have good ideas for managing emotions that have helped you grow closer to God?
I would love to hear from you in the comments!
Mary Rooney Armad
Mary is the creator and writer for the faith-based blog ButterflyLiving.org. Her writing has been featured on multiple Christian websites and she is the author of the book, “Identity, Understanding, and Accepting Who I am in Christ” available on Amazon.