5 Ways to Manage Your Emotions
Learning how to manage your emotions can be a tough gig. We all face moments that reach the soft spots of our soul. We may not be able to control emotions, but we can choose to control our response.
Ready to dive in?
Can you think of a time you felt completely unable to manage your emotions? We all have those moments… A situation brings out a powerful response in us. Even in those moments we have a choice. We can spiral out of control or we can manage our emotions.
When I was a new driver, our family lived about 15 miles outside of a small town in the midwest. Many of the back roads were either roughly paved or covered in rock.
I lost control of my beat-up old car when I was speeding down the paved road and hit the rock road on a curve. My car spun around for what seemed like an eternity. All I could do was grip the steering wheel until the car was forced to stop by a street sign. It was so scary to have no control over the car.
When it was all over I just sat, relieved and heart pounding. I got out and surveyed the damage. Dents, driver side scraped up and a busted headlight. How was I going to explain this?
This is what it’s like when we don’t manage our emotions. Gripped with fear, waiting for it to pass then surveying the damage done.
This is what it’s like when we don’t manage our emotions. Gripped with fear, waiting for it to pass then surveying the damage done.
Has this happened to you?
Emotions may seem unmanageable, but they’re not. We have a choice. We can choose to manage emotions rather than manage the damage done by loss of control.
What are emotions?
Emotions are feelings that are the byproduct of our thoughts and our actions. It is through our emotions that we express our thoughts, desires, opinions, beliefs and attitudes. In other words, emotions demonstrate our interpretation of life.
We are made in the image of God. We see in Scripture that God experiences emotions such as grief, anger and wrath. We, too, experience a range of emotions. If we didn’t have emotion, we’d be like a bunch of robots walking around.
Emotions Affect Our Body
Emotions are very real and can be quite intense. Even our physical well-being can be affected due to the power of emotions. Worry can lead to ulcers. Stress leads to high blood pressure. Sleeplessness, weight fluctuations and headaches can all be the byproduct of our emotions.
Purpose of Emotions
We serve a purposeful God. Nothing in God’s economy is wasted and that includes emotions. I would love to delete sadness, anger and frustration and keep joy, love and hope! However it’s the negative emotions that bring out the pleasure of positive emotions… Also, God uses our emotions to reveal our hearts. Emotions drive us to the cross whether we’re singing out praise or overwhelmed by sorrow.
I can’t control how I feel…
There are different schools of thought on this topic. Some believe we feel what we feel and it can’t be changed. Others say we can choose our emotions. I don’t intend to differentiate between the two here. Rather, the focus will be: We can choose how to respond regardless of the emotions we are experiencing.
The moment we buy into the lie that we can’t manage our emotions, we become a victim. In other words, our circumstances or people around us “make” us behave a certain way.
That’s simply not true.
It’s true, we have no control over others and often no control over circumstances, but we always have control over our response.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-control.” ~ 2nd Timothy 1:7
Self-control is part of our DNA. The moment we put our faith in Christ we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and He gives us the ability to control ourself.
What drives the strong emotions?
The driving force behind emotions goes much deeper than the feeling itself. Our emotions are driven by our thoughts, desires, opinions, beliefs and attitudes.
Now let’s go deeper still.
Our thoughts, desires, opinions, beliefs and attitudes all come from our heart.
“Above all else guard your heart, everything you do flows from it.” ~Proverbs 4:23
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” ~Matthew 6:2
So what does this have to do with managing emotions?
Telling yourself to stop feeling a certain way typically doesn’t work. Even if you’re able to manage it by stuffing your feelings or distracting yourself, it will only work in the short run. The feelings you’re trying to avoid will resurface. Getting to the “heart” of the matter is much more effective for lasting change.
5 Steps to Managing Your Emotions
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” ~Ephesians 4:22-24
1.Put off a wrong view of emotions.
Don’t view emotions/feelings as guides. Get rid of this kind of talk…
- I got a feeling.
- Go with your gut.
- Follow your heart.
The moment we view our feelings as facts, we’ve got a problem. Remember the diagram. Emotions come from our thoughts, attitudes, opinions, desires and beliefs. Those things come from our heart, specifically what we treasure in our heart. Remember – we have a propensity to sin and shift.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind,” ~Jeremiah 17:9-10A
Our feelings are unreliable at best. Don’t view feelings as guidance for your response.
2.Put on a right view of emotions.
Emotions are better signals then guides. God uses our emotions to bring Him glory (that’s our purpose). Whether your joyful and singing praises or overcome with sorrow-He uses emotion to draw us closer to Him. He uses emotion to indicate a need for refinement. He also uses our emotions as an indication that we need to take a deeper look within.
Having a strong emotion about something? …It’s a signal to go deeper.
3.Going deeper with journaling.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” ~Proverbs 20:5
Putting your experience to words, whether verbally or written, is a powerful tool for going deeper and sorting things out. Research shows that journaling has healing benefits. There are effective and ineffective ways to journal. Download the guide to get you started.
4.You are equipped with everything you need for a Godly life.
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” ~2 Peter 1:3
The moment you gave your life to Christ you were sealed with the Holy Spirit. He guides you and gives you wisdom. Most importantly He has the built-in feature of self-control.
He is also the power source behind prayer and the Word of God. Without the Holy Spirit, prayers are just a bunch of words and the Bible is a history book.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” ~1 John 5:14-15
Pray for self-control. God desires that the fruit of the Spirit of self-control be reflected in you (for His glory). He promises to answer prayers in the affirmative when it lines up with His will. Managing your emotions lines up with His will! Pray for help in this area.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2
The pattern of this world is to react in the moment. God’s purpose in practicing self-control sets us apart and reflects the light of Christ. He left His Word for us as a guide to living life purposefully. Renewing our mind daily is one of the tools He has given us to live out our purpose.
5.Let go of “now” thinking.
It is a rare situation that things must be dealt with immediately. This “now” thinking can lead us to believe we must act immediately and emphatically. Practice this statement – “Let me think about that.”
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” ~James 1:19
This slows down and helps us gather our thoughts before acting. This is an important tool for practicing self-control. Pause. Breathe. Proceed slowly. This break is an ideal time for a quick journaling session. Sort out what is driving your emotions. Then respond accordingly.
Managing Your Emotions: Wrap-up
Managing your emotions can be a tough gig. We all face moments that reach the soft spots of our soul. We may not be able to control emotions, but we can choose to control our response.
Put off loss of control and put on controlling your emotions. Use the tools God has equipped you with: Holy Spirit, prayer and His Word. Learn how to journal effectively to sort emotions. Finally, remember to let go of “now” thinking.
While managing your emotions is difficult, it is within your ability to change patterns in your life.
When is it hardest to manage your emotions? Leave a comment below!
It is hardest to manage my anger. I never use to get so angry and want to lash out count until the last 1 or 2 years.
Hi Leah! Thank you for your comment…I have an article that discusses anger specifically. The journaling outline that you can sign up for is really helpful in taking a deeper look at anger. Here is the link to check out how to manage anger and a little info on how we use anger as a tool to manage other emotions…Hope it helps shed some light on the emotion of anger you’ve been experiencing. https://sunshynegray.com/how-to-deal-with-anger/
I seem to be more emotionally attached to people. Recently separated. And when I start to talk to someone I get emotionally attached very easy. I dont want to. I have pushed away 2 special people from me because of this.
Be gentle pushing people away. Most likely, they are trying to help you in Jesus Love. I hope you are doing better 🙂
Fear is my maim problem when it starts it’s like a run away train Anger is also a problem I feel like a lamb at work and a roaring lion at home (sometimes)
I feel you. Just pray about it. I believe God sees your effort
Hello thank you for this article I’m really having a hard time dealing with my emotions that I know affects my walk with God… Please do pray for me thank u
Get involved with a Celebrate Recovery group at a local church. This has really helped me with my anger. It is a Christian based recovery group
I have lived so much of my life responding in anger. It has cost me so much. What I have learned over the last 6 months is that it is issues of the heart. Deep rooted insecurity and fear. I guard and protect those fears with anger. The anger comes out on those I love the most, and they are what it has cost me.
I struggle to learn where/ what the source of the fear and insecurity is. I don’t want to respond in anger anymore. It has cost me too much. Please pray for me, and for those my angry responses have harmed.
Hi David, Thank you for stopping by! It sounds like you have gained much insight in 6 months. Take heart, I’ve seen God move in really amazing ways in renewing relationships when our hearts are repentant. Meditate on 2 Timothy 1:7 and 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. As for not finding the source of the fear and insecurity-Ask yourself “what am I afraid will (or will not) happen” when faced with a situation that brings up the anger. Spend time prayerfully seeking the answer to those questions. You can also practice this on events in the past that you recall. Praying for you!
I Want to learn how to control impulsivity. I don’t know why but sometimes I feel the rush to do something in the moment then regret it (“yes I can volunteer for that”) or (“let’s buy this $5000 mattres”) I just feel the rush in my body
Hi Ileana! You hit the nail on the head…you’re chasing the rush! Unfortunately it’s only a quick win with negative lasting results. If you’ve come to Christ in faith, you have been given a Spirit of self control (2 Timothy 1:7). It does take practice though! If you would like to work on some strategies, check out my counseling services here… https://sunshynegray.com/christian-counseling/ Praying for you!
The hardest to control my emotions is when I get angry at someone or if I start thinking about the past of what people have done to me or focus on all the wrongs or I’m feeling super lost
Hi Michelle, Emotions can feel so strong sometimes. Anger tends to be the emotion we “feel” because it’s easier than experiencing other emotions lurking beneath the surface. Here is an article that may give you a bit more direction… https://sunshynegray.com/how-to-deal-with-anger/
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Thank you, I think is incredible scripture of the Lord I am ask to help me and I see him every day in my life but my emotions can’t control because I am so hurt of my husband how the way he is and I will practice every day he scripture thank again . I love it the ways you explain .God bless you
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Thank you, I think is incredible scripture of the Lord I am ask to help me and I see him every day in my life but my emotions can’t control because I am so hurt of my husband how the way he is and I will practice every day he scripture thank again . I love it the ways you explain .God bless you P
I find it hard to control my emotions when it comes to loneliness or entitlement. I love caring for others but my emotions overwhelm me when I feel like I don’t receive any or enough appreciation or even when I haven’t done something and I’m ignored. I get overwhelmed with expectations of others and myself. I let my mind and feelings of loneliness torture me, and I want this to stop. Is there something I should be doing daily to stop this overwhelmed state of mind from consuming me?
Hi Jackie! It’s insightful of you to identify when you tend to lose control of your emotions. Now, I would explore the why. Why do you have a hard time controlling your emotions when you feel lonely or entitled? What do you want to happen? why? Get to the root of those questions, prayerfully ask God to give you wisdom as you explore the “why’s”. Blessings
I struggle with fear and worry. I often let fear control how I interact with others. When I get overcome with fear I begin to spiral down hill feeling guilty for not trusting God and at times doubting my own salvation. This has been an ongoing cycle that I would like to break.
Hi Jessica, Thank you for sharing so transparently- Here is a great article on how fear drives controlling behavior… https://sunshynegray.com/6-steps-to-stop-your-controlling-behavior/ I also wanted to assure you that God promises that your salvation is secure- we can’t undo his saving work…if we can’t earn salvation, we can’t un-earn salvation either! Rest in that:)
The hardest time for me to manage my emotions is when I come under pressure. I start worrying (obsessively after a time), I turn away from God, get fearful & eventually end up depressed. It is an ongoing cycle & pattern.
Hi Russell, Thank you for sharing. If you know when you are triggered…”when I come under pressure”…you might make a game plan for those moments. Write down what to in that moment. Knowing the trigger is a big step in the right direction! Hope that helps:)
Really thankful I found this article and your website. I have struggled with my emotions for years.. I can’t seem to get Through church service without sobbing and it has honestly kept me from attending church. Although, I don maintain my relationship with the LORD, I know I need to fellowship. The emotion that concerns me also is anger. As much as I love and want to be loved.. I scare myself with the angry responses to things I sometime exhibit. Thank the good LORD I have not hurt anyone or anyone has hurt me but I am praying really hard on learning to manage and control all my emotions. This article has been a blessing and I have prayed for some of the people who have commented. I know GOD loves me and wants me to have self control. I believe reading this and better understanding some of the principles mentioned is going to help me tremendously. Amen. Thanks
Lost my job rght after moving out from home,its been a very emotional route.Am alsways fighting with my emotions beating myslf up for everything happening.Its hard to read nor pray sometimes it turns out beautifully different but most times am back to where i was.I just finished reading and noted everything down i thank God to had lead me to this,Exactly what i needed to know.Am gnna go through it again for more understanding and start to practice it.
Hi Esther- so glad the article helped! I do want to encourage you that sometimes we can do all the right things and it doesn’t turn out as planned. Stop beating yourself up:) Praying for you!
The hardest emotion for me to manage is getting upset easily. This has come to the surface more recently since I’m in a relationship (have been single most of my life except for one other 5 month long relationship). Reading this article helped me realize that I get upset easily when I feel like my desires are being met and when I don’t know how to express it I get silent and withdraw from my partner and or/will ask him why he said something a certain way that upset me. He has been so kind and graceful to me when I don’t deserve it and it makes me want to dive deeper into figuring out why I respond this way and what’s the root cause. I’m still trying to figure it out but this article is definitely leading me in the right direction. Sometimes I am afraid that it’s a desire that he may not be equipped to give me because he wasn’t made that way (for example, personality differences, etc.) it scares me at times because of how much I love this man, but I know that God is good and will help me figure out my heart and discern what is true.
I can totally relate Jennifer- we all struggle with disappointment with unmet desires. You are insightful to evaluate whether those desires are realistic vs. unrealistic. Last thing- I’ve learned that if God doesn’t give me what I ask for, He teaches me how to live without it;) Blessings!
When my desires aren’t* being met. Sorry for the typo
What do you think I should do for my lack of self control when it comes to eating? I tend to eat more than I should especially when I’m bored. I’ve been struggling for years and can’t seem to stick to a self controlled eating habit.
I’m not an expert but i have gained a lot of weight in depression, lost it to a sz 8 and in anger put it all back on.
I know that what we eat is important…but the key to the weight loss on two occasions. is WATER.
We are 75 % water in our bodily make up.
We are like Jesus. If you ever read in the bible when he speaks it is like ‘rushing waters’.
If we don’t drink water, we are dehydrated quickly.
An acquaintance went to war in Iraq. There they drank 8-12 bottles of water a day if I remember right, maybe more. It seem ed like a lot whatever it was.
I worked in a Nursing facility where i carried a pitcher of water with me to give meds to residents. I realized after the massive weight loss, something changed from there. It was so hot in the faciltity I refilled the pitcher usually 3 times a day. residednts didn’t drink that much…but I did. At least two pitchers a day.
It melts the fat away. Seriously.. It’s not all you need and be careful of overdoing it especially if you take meds…dont let them be flushed out of your system and thereby don’t work for you…but beyond that, the pitchers the limit…little play on words.
And also, of course, God. Pray and ask Him to show you. He will help you overcome this. I’m proof in more ways than one. Blessings. – M
I have a hard time dealing with my past.Everywhere I go I end up being mistreated and that has been embedded in my system. How do I get over what if?. Attitude. Everytime I get normal…. I worry that things will remain the same once I go back and hang around people. That I’ll again end up being mistreated and ignored. Speak too much and make a joke out of myself
Mercy, Hi. I’m M. for short. Long story, so I”d just rather not share my full name. I, too , have a past. I’ve met scores of people with a ‘past’ who have trauma to thank for that. I, also, know several heroes from among those people who use the pain to push them to help those in the same situation heal. It means we must become stronger ourselves in God’s word. We must wear the Armor of God. We must live like we LOVE God with all our heart and it is so possible to do that. Look in God’s mirror. Not the one in the bathroom. He sees a beautiful broken child. Absolutely beautiful….inside. You couldn’t be hurt so often if you weren’t. He will help you see this if you let him. Finding time in the word is the best way to see your inner image. I confess, I don’t use the bible as most do. I use devotionals and testimonials and songs…Christian songs.
I once heard ‘voices’ tell me not only that I was a wretch but also, how and why i was a wretch and that I didn’t deserve love…etc. The demons behind that, of which i didn’t invite knowingly, frightened me out of the bible. I tell you this to be honest.
It isn’t easy starting a bible reading life. Sometimes it’s hard to understand..Praying every day for eyes to see the truth through the Holy spirit is the best solution. Christian music is often biblical writings put to music. So that helps a great deal. You are no joke. Never were and never will be. YOU ARE A LOVELY CHILD OF GOD. Blessings. – M
Thank you for this article. This was sent to me by a friend that did not know my new situation. I just lost my license because the doctor thinks I be having seizures. Dr is not sure yet still suspended it. I am an emotional mess. I am working on an attitude of gratitude. I think this is the starting point for me to get my emotions under control.
I find it most hard to control the ’emotional bleeding’ so to speak when mistreated by family members. I truly love them and just want to be accepted and treated with love and decency. Some people are not in the same walk with God and don’t seem to care if they are rude or hurt your feelings. Injustice can be hard to cope with and leave a sense of feeling defeated. I have such a big heart. That is both my strength and my weakness at times.
Tracy, I know you wrote this several months ago, but i came seeking something to help my emotions from spiraling…due to…family.
A couple of weddings are coming up and I realized….I know truths of God and of myself that they have no idea of. I also am one with a big heart. I want primarily to thank you for sharing your hurt. I have walked a troubled walk for many years due to circumstance I couldn’t remember. ‘Lovely’ so called followers of God decided to help me out. Their belief and my truth are two different things.
I’m angry and i try to give it to God…but finally, today, I gave my family to God and seek to ‘adopt’ people who are ‘REAL’ Christians or are in need of salvation and want hope.
It felt great this morning. It’s evening and I’m a little tired…a little less confident. yet i won’t be attending any of the weddings, graduations or other celebrations in the future. We have family, but Jesus is our most important member and we’re adopted by the Father. Nothing compares to a relationship with Him. I’m going all out now to serve by finding my other ‘family’, particularly the ones rejected as I am or worse. Jesus was rejected from birth. BEaten down and trod on and He allowed it, to make a way for those who love Him and who want a family t;hat loves them as well. Thank you, again. Blessings. – M
Hi! I’m Cha. Thanks for this article; it really helps.
Actually, I don’t know if my concern is directly related to the question but anyway I’ll just share it.
I am single and love life is not an issue not until one day…
Ever since, even when I was a teenager I haven’t experienced liking someone so much though I have crushes but when I decided to end my feelings for him/them, I can do it. Unlike my friends, getting married is not one of my big dreams. So, in my prayers I really don’t ask for a lifetime partner though I prayed for a flabbergasting love story (which I include specific character of an ideal man of which I know, really impossible) but all I wanted is “God’s Will Be Done.” I am so confident that I am good at handling my emotions.
…then, time came that I met someone. To make the long story short, ever in my life it is the first time that I told God that if that man will be my lifetime partner then, I would love to have my own family. Me myself can’t believe it. He was so good to me and I am comfortable being with him; I am honest to him.
Friends of mine like him also but of course, none of them knows that I also like him. Since, my friends like him, I must stop my feelings (is this right?) so; I prayed and ask God to remove my feelings for him. But sad to say, it’s already more than a year still, it’s alive. Also, I included in my prayer before that if God really wanted me to be a support for a leader (lifetime partner), (just a request) may He make me fall (feel that special feeling) only to one man (His will). This is indeed what is happening.
I am a person who don’t want to assume and at the same time, don’t want to invest feelings (is this love?) to someone of which I am not sure if really comes from God. Honestly, that man’s impact to my life is good–God used him as an instrument to make me closer to Him and realized so many things that helped me grow more spiritually. On the other hand, (I hate saying this; I never felt this before) I am affected whenever I see him getting closer to other women. I believe I don’t have the right to get jealous nor feel pain for him, we don’t have special relationship. That is why, please help…
Of course, I’m praying for this but I don’t know how to pray about this? what shall I say to my Father? All I want is to obey His leading but how shall I know if this is not my own selfish desire? Yes, discernment of His will (except His revealed will) is really one of my weaknesses especially if the issue is not between good and bad.
I want to avoid him but it’s not proper especially that we are teammates in some ministries. I’m sorry if I seem complicated. What shall I do so it won’t be obvious that I am affected whenever he is with friends (esp those who liked him)? I don’t want to regret…
By God’s grace…He enables me survive from this feeling for more than a year.
Thanks in advance. I hope, you will say something. God bless.
Thank you so much Sunshyne for this great article. I have not come across an excellent explanation on the subject like this with wisdom and the scriptures. It has led to insight and deliverance. God bless you so much.
Thank you for taking the time to share, Elvis:)