Ep 1 - Understanding Emotions

Reflective Exercises

  1. How many emotions that you can name? List out all of the emotions that you can identify. If you find its quite difficult for you to name all of these emotions, you can check this website for help: thechalkboardmag.com/the-feelings-circle-chart-emotional-communication.

  2. When you find that you are "feeling" something, try to name those feelings with a specific name. These scenarios may help you to understand further what this exercise is all about.
    • You had a disagreement with your colleague. You went back to your cubicle and you find yourself heavily breathing, and numerous thoughts running through your mind. At this situation, you can try to 'self-talk' yourself by saying: "I am disappointed with my colleague for not able to understand what I am trying to explain to her"
    • You went home and find that your spouse prepared a surprise dinner at home. You find yourself in some form of a relaxed state and somehow you start to see all things in a more positive note. You can try to 'self-talk' yourself by saying "I feel very happy and delighted with the dinner I had"

  3. The goal of this exercise is not for you to be able to 'label' every emotion you have with a specific name. Instead, this exercise is meant for helping to identify the driving force of your behaviour that is often being ignored or neglected. That driving force is none other than your emotions.

  4. You can use the same methods for writing your blog/devotional as well.

Transcript for Ep 1 - Understanding Emotions

Have you felt slightly choked while watching a movie and a particularly sad scene plays? Or jumped for joy and screamed with excitement when your favourite football team scores the winning goal? Do you feel nervous sometimes when you are walking alone? Or feel excited on special days such as a wedding, birthdays, or your anniversary? If your answer for most questions is yes, then you, like the rest of us, possess emotions. It is an integral part of being human.

Emotions are complicated things. And when we not actively aware of what we are feeling and the contributing factors, we may express it inappropriately or even suppress it and hurt ourselves.

My name is Pastor Bayu, and today we will explore a Quick Word about understanding your emotions.

Emotions and feelings are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. For this podcast, when I talk about emotions, I'm referring to the chemicals released through our brain and body in response to a specific trigger. It is subconscious; it is a reaction and happens before our thinking minds can process anything.

Feelings are what happens next, as our brains try to interpret and assign meaning to the emotion. It is very fast and still a very subconscious process. 

Feelings are sparked by emotions and coloured by the thoughts, memories, and images that have become subconsciously linked with that particular emotion for you. But it works the other way around too. For example, just thinking about something threatening can trigger an emotional fear response.

While emotions are temporary, the feelings they evoke may persist and grow over a lifetime.  Because emotions cause subconscious feelings which in turn initiate emotions and so on, your life can become a never-ending cycle of painful and confusing emotions which produce negative feelings which cause more negative emotions without you ever really knowing why.

In reaction to not knowing how to deal with such powerful emotions, we may end up suppressing or even denying them. For example, when children cry, often the question posed to them is “why are you crying?” in a tone that implies that crying is wrong or unnecessary. Perhaps this happened to you, as a child.

When we are happy, we are taught not to show excessive displays of happiness because it can be taken as being proud or arrogant.

Our education seldom teaches us to recognise emotions and appropriately process our feelings. Rather than trying to understand the whys and hows of what we feel or don’t feel, the emphasis is placed on memorising facts, applying our thinking skills to come up with solutions that may address the immediate problem but not the underlying causes — and this can have a significant impact on our Christian walk.

For example, verses such as “rejoice in the Lord always” are often misinterpreted as a sign that so-called healthy Christians never feel sad. The extension of that misunderstanding is that grief or mourning are bad emotions and only experienced by Christians that do not have a strong faith. How many Christians feel social pressure to hide their pain or deny that themselves a healthy mourning period simply because they feel pressured to show how strong their belief in God is. They have to smile and present themselves as happy even when they feel broken inside.

Then there is the misconception that anger is the antithesis of love, so cannot be angry, so they bottle it up, or suppress it, and over time, because the emotion of anger is not understood, the reason for the anger is not processed, the anger turns in on itself and becomes bitterness and resentment.

But let’s take a look at what the Bible shows, especially at the life of Jesus himself. We see a very different response to emotions. Jesus seems to be very authentic with his emotions. It is interesting to know that the shortest verse in the Bible is all about Jesus expressing emotions. John 11:35 which consist of only two words says, “Jesus wept”. The word wept here, is not a hidden sobbing cry, but rather a loud wail, an expression of intense emotions. As we look at the whole story, this was the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus already knew that Lazarus is dead; however, it does not stop him to cry when he saw Mary and Martha were sad over the death of their brother. For some, it might be strange to find the Son of God crying over the death of his friend. But the message is evident here, Jesus expresses his emotions naturally.

I believe that emotions are a gift of God. It is a fantastic tool that though we may still need to understand it better, it works for the benefit of us. For instance, the emotion of anger may be your brain and body's way of alerting you to wrongdoing that needs to be made right.

Through emotions, we can realise who God is and what type of relationship that we can have with him. We find joy on the blessings that He had given us, gratitude for His providence, and even when sadness and disappointment come to our life, we are still able to connect to him by sharing those negative emotions with him.

In our relationship with one another, a healthy understanding of our emotions and the feelings they prompt can allow us to create a deeper meaning for the people we are in contact with. When we communicate with others, our emotions play the role behind the scenes in expressing what we think and interpreting the response and feedback from others. That is the beauty of emotions in making every single connection with others meaningful as it should be.

Therefore, emotions should not be viewed as a threat to our wellbeing, but instead, we should embrace it as part of God’s creation plan. By becoming aware and understanding our emotions and feelings, and their causes, and then inserting conscious thought followed by deliberate action, you can choose how you navigate and experience the world. Being able to do this means responding or reacting which can make the difference in a calm or chaotic life.

If the son of Man could understand and display his emotions healthily and honestly, shouldn’t we follow the example of our Lord and our Master? Can we say that it is Christ-like to feel happy, excited, but also sad and even angry? Jesus was authentic with his emotions, and we should be too. However, what Jesus showed was a healthy expression of emotion, that comes from mature reflection and understanding. So, the same pattern should be our guideline. This means the problem is not about whether certain emotions are intrinsically good or bad but instead being spiritually and emotionally equipped to know when and how we can express each emotion appropriately.

The Bible is open about emotions, and it gives room for us to express it. To be spiritually healthy Christians, we need to learn how to process our emotions appropriately and effectively.   If you are keen on studying the Bible and knowing more about what it has to say about emotions, send an SMS to 9868 0004. My name is Pastor Bayu, and this has been A Quick Word about emotions.

 

(Outro)

Emotions are beautiful--they make us human. But they can also lead to major regrets if we allow them to control us. Pastor Bayu has some introspective questions and exercises that can be helpful tools for building better emotional health. To get these questions and more, check the show notes at the top of this page.

A Quick Word is hosted by Pastor Bayu. The show is produced by Hope Channel Singapore. Special thanks to Balestier Road Seventh-day Adventist Church. Listen to more episodes of A Quick Word on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.