How to Control your Emotions as a Woman

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woman with strong emotion
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Emotions are a funny thing.  Everybody has them.  Some can control emotional days, and some are controlled by them.  Some of you can sit with your feelings, while others are wondering how to feel your feelings at all.  The good news is that the Bible is a wealth of information on how to manage emotion in a healthy way.

This is a personal one for me.  Emotion is something that I have never been very good at.  I don’t like any sort of feeling in my body that is distracting or disrupts my sense of calm.  This includes any strong emotion, such as anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, and honestly even adrenalin.  So, over the years, I have developed very unhealthy ways of dealing with said feelings and squashing them:  shopping, t.v., eating, running away etc.  Whatever it takes.

But lately, these things have not worked out so well.  I may have already mentioned before, but my husband, Bruce, has been suffering this year from one injury after another, and can now barely walk.  Daily, it seems that there is no end in sight, and the mood around our house has been getting darker and darker.  Our kids are carrying the worry, my husband is carrying the anxiety, and for me it’s been a sadness driving me quickly toward depression.  No matter what I try to do, I just can’t shake the heaviness.

So, what do I do with that?  How do I just let go and cry when crying has never come easy?  And what if I allow myself to feel, but then can’t reign it back in?  These are the things that I ponder late at night.

Hopefully these questions will help you too.

How do I allow my feelings?

Why is it important to allow yourself to feel?  Well, if you’re like me, you know the frustration at not being able to experience emotional relief.  Sometimes, all I want to do is sob for an hour but then all I can actually muster up is a misty eye (or maybe a single tear if I’m lucky).  Then what I’m stuck with is that sharp throat-tightening feeling that feels incredibly severe.  And THAT is the feeling I try my hardest to avoid.  This is not a healthy approach to life.

The thing is, is that it’s not a bad thing to feel bad.  It is natural to react to the upsetting things in our world.  God created us to expel emotion when it gets to be too much.  When we deny ourselves that outlet, we are denying our bodies their natural function.

Emotional control - Is it possible?

Even Jesus allowed himself emotion when the situation arose.  If the Son of God can allow Himself to feel, then I guess for me it’s okay to be sad…or angry…or afraid.

RELATED POST: 4 Things to Know When You’re Not Feeling Good Enough

Jesus allowed Himself to feel anger

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”   

Matthew 21:12-13

Jesus allowed Himself to feel sadness

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So, the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”  

John 11:32-36
How to feel your feelings

Jesus allowed Himself to feel anxiety

And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   

Luke 22:41-44

Jesus allowed Himself to feel despair

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”   

Matthew 27:46

How do we process emotions with God?

Now that we know that it is good to allow yourself to feel your emotions, how do you process them in a God-honoring way?  The good news is that, because Jesus Himself experienced all of the emotions listed above, He understands what we are going through.  He has been there before.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.   

Hebrews 4:15-16

And because He’s experienced it all before, He doesn’t want us to go through it alone.  His desire is that we seek Him in our pain, that we lay our hurt before Him, because He is so much more capable in carrying it than we are.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.   

1 Peter 5:6-7

So how do you do that?  How are you supposed to lay something that is not tangible down before somebody who is not tangible?  You pray.  Talk to Him about all that upsets you.  Yell at Him if you need to, He can take it.  Read His word, find comfort in the very verses that I’ve included in this post.  Communicate with your God and Savior, and He will carry you.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.   

James 5:13a

RELATED POST: Joy in Prayer? But It’s So Boring!!!

What the Bible says about emotional stability

Emotions are fickle.  They come and go with the wind.  They are not stable, and yet so many lean on them when making the important decisions in life.  This reminds me of the parable of the house on the sand.

How to control your emotions
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”   

Matthew 7:24-27

Our emotions are like the sand, shifting and changing in the wind and rain.  When someone steps too close, the sand shifts and so does that foundation we thought was firm.

But God is as solid as the rock, firm and unwavering in the wind.  When we keep our eyes fixed on Him, when we continue to draw close to who He is, we begin to build on His stability.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.   

Colossians 3:1-2

Now, I’m not saying that if you draw close to God bad things won’t happen, or that you won’t have feelings about them.  God doesn’t promise a good or easy life (quite the opposite really, following Him is definitely the harder path).  Just that He will be there with you through it. 

The dangers of emotional instability

4 Key points in controlling your emotions

When we are grounded in Christ, we are rooted firmly in who He is.  We will no longer be tossed to and fro by our emotions, jerked around like a feather in a tornado.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be alert and diligent in our walk with Him.  The less we communicate with Him, the less time we spend, the more we begin to break away.  And that is where we become susceptible again to the emotional roller-coaster that can lead to sin.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.   

1 Peter 5:8-10

Most sin is emotionally driven.  Anger can lead to self-righteousness, arrogance and bitterness.  Anxiety and fear can lead to distrust and a lack of faith.  Sadness can lead to a self-absorbed heart, unaware of others around them.  You get the picture.

If we allow our emotions to run away without the stability and foundation of the gospel, we allow sin to enter in and run rampant in our lives.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.   

Galatians 5:16-17,24-25

How to control emotions

Can emotions be controlled?  Do we have any hope in this area?  I would say yes!!  God has encouraged us in His word that we CAN manage emotion.  Whether our temptation is to let them run away with us, or if it is to control them so much that we aren’t trusting in God’s abilities, He has given us hope.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.   

1 Corinthians 10:13

So what is that escape that is talked about?  (Because my way of escaping has been to jump into my car by myself and take a road trip to the next state over.)  The escape Paul is referring to is much more than a quick fix.  It takes effort and due diligence and is listed in these practical steps:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities, you will never fall.   

2 Peter 1:5-10
4 Important notes on controlling emotions

Seeking God is your escape.  He alone can teach you how to control your emotions.  He alone can teach you how to sit with your feelings.  He alone can bring stability in both.

The hope we cling to

Sometimes we can feel overrun by our emotions.  But the good news is that this is just for today.  Jesus has promised of a day when our emotional management will no longer be a problem.  So we suffer today, knowing it is just for a moment.  And knowing that we have a God who has promised to be with us in that moment until His triumphant return.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”   

Revelation 21:4

For more information on who God is, and what He could mean for your life, please see the blog post, Why is Jesus Important?  Please know that I’ll be praying for you as you embark on this crucial journey!

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