Emotion. What do you feel when you read that word? What rises to the surface of your heart? Do you feel warm and thankful or do you feel rigid and anxious? What thoughts are surging through your mind? When you focus in on those thoughts, what beliefs about you appear? Do you see your worth or do you have a hard time seeing past your imperfections?
Life experiences understood through the filter of our society has taught us to categorize emotions as either good or bad. Without our awareness, a message has been internalized that informs us that “I am what I feel”; if I feel “bad” emotions, then I must be bad. This toxic form of shame prevents us from experiencing the gift of emotion in our lives and our relationships.
In his book, The Voice of the Heart, Chip Dodd describes emotions as follows:
“Feelings that are not impulses that need to be controlled; they are tools that we need to learn how to use well so that we do not behave impulsively and act out without the ability to take responsibility. They are tools that allow us to live truthfully…. They are good because they allow us to process life experiences.”
Emotions in their pure, uninhibited form are God-given gifts for our journey through life. They are parts of our core, authentic self intended to guide us toward fuller life and deeper relationship. For example, when we allow ourselves to value the tenderness of our heart by experiencing sadness for a loss, we are honoring our ability to love and are cultivating the soil of our heart so that it can keep loving. Imagine tenderly holding and comforting your wounded heart instead of burying it in the ground or locking it into a dark prison cell denying it to be seen. That which we nurture will grow!
Emotions get a bad reputation when they are confused with the behavioral reaction that seeks to protect that more tender, vulnerable need. A child who is afraid and is unaware of how to honor this fear constructively will usually react with anger and defiance. As a parent, seek to know the need behind your child’s behavior. As the need is met, you will witness a changed behavior. Again, what we nurture will grow! If we nurture the part that is afraid, the anger will no longer have a function.
We encourage you today to nurture your heart by honoring each of your emotions with a non-judgmental curiosity. Lean in and listen to understand the need that it is seeking to be known within your heart. Still again, lean in and meet it in the best way you know how. Why? Because you have purpose. You have value.
If you have an interest in learning more about the gift of your emotions and how they are intended to enrich your life and relationships as mentioned herein, you may enjoy reading the referenced book, The Voice of the Heart, by Chip Dodd.
If you would like to invite someone onto this journey with you, we invite you to contact us at The Refuge Center for Counseling! We have a counselor that would be honored to walk with you.