The Truth About Emotions (Why Positivity Alone Won’t Bring You Peace)
Ever heard the saying, “Positivity Is the Key”? How About, “Keep Calm and Stay Positive”?
Mantras like “If You Cannot Be Positive, Then Be Quiet,” and “Be Positive, Stay Happy,” and “Don’t Let Negativity Get You Down,” are rampant on social media outlets.
They pump us up. They feel good. Yet the consistent theme seems to be that we are always supposed to be positive, feel positive, stay positive. Negative feelings, it would appear, are not welcome, are not healthy.
As a culture, we have come to believe the only acceptable emotions are the positive emotions, the good emotions. We like to feel happy, excited, joyful. We’ll take those emotions. The ones we will do anything to avoid are the bad emotions. Negative emotions such as sadness, fear, anger, these emotions must be inherently bad. They do not feel good. We are terrified of them. We are ashamed of them. We should not feel them. If we do, we must immediately take a pill, grab a drink, push them down, so that we can avoid them at all cost. We believe that happiness in life comes by eliminating any negative emotions and solely experiencing the positive ones.
Christians, too, can fall into this extreme way of thinking. Some tend to see positive emotions as blessings, God-given, answers to prayer. Negative emotions are sometimes viewed as an attack from the enemy, conviction, or a spirit to be cast out with prayer and fasting.
In truth, I do believe in spiritual attacks. I rely whole-heartedly on the Spirit’s convicting power. I stand steadfast on my belief in the miraculous power of prayer.
Yet I do not believe that every negative emotion is negative or satanic. I believe that God in His infinite wisdom and perfection, created ALL of our emotions, not just the positive ones. Our emotions are necessary. Jesus experienced sadness, anger, hurt and yes, anguish, and He felt these emotions without sin.
Our emotions were designed as flashing lights within our emotional being to get our attention on our journey.
Our emotions are the external cues as to what is going on internally deep within us. If we understand them correctly and are in tune with them, we can face our emotions instead of running away from them or numbing them.
Anyone who has read any of my blogs knows that over the course of my life, I believe God is continually wanting to heal me, teach me and grow me. This is why my spiritual and emotional pilgrimage is a lifelong process.
A healthy relationship with your emotions should:
- Make you aware of how daily experiences are affecting you. You can feel these responses in your body. Certain interactions or experiences leave us feeling positive, others give us a distinct uneasiness, or pain. Healthy people are in tune with their emotions and can name their emotions. This equips them to navigate through life and make healthy decisions along the way.
- Get your attention so that you can learn where to dig. A negative emotion is usually trying to tell you something. It can tell you that an old wound has been triggered that needs to be healed at a deeper level. It can tell you that there is potential danger ahead so that you can be careful. It can also tell you that there is an area of your life that God wants you to grow so that you can learn how to deal with things differently, perhaps more effectively.
- Lead you somewhere productive. Even the most painful emotions can lead you to your healing if you allow them. If you don’t know how, or are even afraid to begin, please reach out to a therapist who can help you find the place of wholeness and peace for you and your emotions. Emotionally abundant individuals do not run away from their emotions, nor do they become lost in them. They simply respect their emotions and do their best to learn from them.
You don’t have to be afraid of your emotions. They cannot kill you. You don’t have to run from your emotions. They should not shame you. You can learn to listen to your emotions, understand them better so that you find the truth and the healing God has for you.
Let’s move beyond the power of positivity. Positive thinking and feeling is good. Yet that is not all there is to life. Let’s use ALL of our emotions on this adventure called life.
Emotions are flashing lights that shine in both darkness and light. Notice them. Feel them. Care for them well so that you can take the next step, whatever that step may be, as you travel down the road toward peace!