What if I told you there was no such thing as a bad emotion? Do you believe it? Do you scrunch your face in disbelief, or start sifting through the rolodex of emotional vocabulary in your brain to find one to counter this point?
Here’s the thing. Emotions are neutral. They are. They are a physiological response to a thought in your mind. A sudden flood of hormones and neurochemicals that create the sensory experience of fear, anger, sadness, or serenity.
They send blood to your legs when experiencing fight or flight, they remove the blood from your legs and send it to your gut when in heavy sadness or despair. An increase in cortisol is associated with stress, often contributing to stomach upset that comes along with anxiety and worry. Endorphins are released when we exercise which creates that post-exercise sense of calm or that runner’s “high” some of you may have heard of. This all happens so fast that it’s essentially involuntary, especially if our skill of self-awareness and ability to emotionally regulate are minimal, which is the case for much of society.
Many of us may not be able to put a name to the specific emotion we are feeling, but the beautiful thing is that more often than not, we are at least aware of the sensory experience of an emotion in our body. They get our attention. Our thoughts can be very illusive, slippery even. They dart in, cause some trouble and then vanish! They can be hard to catch. Emotions last a little bit longer and may be easier to identify due to the physiological response they cause in us: sweaty hands, racing heart, butterflies in our stomach or tense shoulders. These are all sensations we feel in our body. You may wonder why I’vejust listed only negative sensations.. I realize there are also a plethora of positive emotions and emotional sensory experiences as well, but those do not distress us and therefore do not require much emotional regulation, so we will focus on the more negatively perceived emotions.
Every emotion serves a purpose, whether it is to steer us away from evil (danger) or toward something good (success), they incline us to move in some direction. They motivate us to take action. Now it becomes of the utmost importance to know what is actually good and evil in order to have an accurate and helpful emotional response to a situation and that is where our own intellectual education, time spent in prayer/Scripture, and the good counsel of others (ahem, hello coaching!) comes in very handy. I digress…
Here’s the thing, emotions are neutral and powerful, but there are two things necessary if they are going to serve us well. We need to know if our thought that led to that emotion is in fact true, and then, we need to know how to wield them. If the thought is true and thus the emotion is warranted, now I know I can move forward to some prudent action. To wield these powerful forces well will then be the work of a lifetime. This back and forth of the two, this discerning and acting with skill, is the dance of Christian Self-Mastery. This is the skill that we hone in catholic coaching.
**I am a Professionally trained Catholic Mindset Coach through Metanoia Catholic. I love to work with Catholic women or any woman open to processing their thoughts and emotions through a Catholic world view.
**Check out my personal blog, Grateful Blessed Mess, at gratefulblessedmess.com to get to know me better! Don't hesitate to reach out. I'd love to hear from you if anything has spoken to your heart or you have any questions in general about Catholic Mindset Coaching.