Updated: Jul 14, 2022
The Redemption of Our Emotions
Why are heavy emotions so hard to handle? Why do we so often flee in the opposite direction? Why is there an “anything but that” mentality that we carry into adulthood, an emotional immaturity that never seems to go away?
Because. Because we were never taught about our emotions. Taught that they are good. Taught that they come from God, that they are neutral, that they are informative, that they will not kill us and if we breathe through them, we can get to the other side.
A guide and mentor of mine once described emotions like an express train coming through as you stand on the platform of the train station. At first there’s a whistle blow, along with a gentle rumbling of the ground. Suddenly, it comes into view and starts to speed toward you. Standing what seems to be all too dangerously close, even though you’re on the other side of that yellow line, you start to wonder if maybe you should back up. Suddenly it is thundering through your safety zone, overwhelming you with the intensity of sound, vibration, and wind creating an overwhelming sensation that you are definitely not safe…and then it’s gone. You may be left with a pounding heart and windblown hair, but it’s over, the moment is gone, and you survived.
Perhaps you don’t always get that warning of the whistle, the rumble or the gates going down. Perhaps you feel stunned, side-swiped or hit with a ton of bricks. It’s incredibly disempowering to feel at the mercy of your emotions. This has been my own area of greatest pain, confusion and heartache, although I couldn’t have even put it into words a year ago.
Emotions have been an area with which I have had a very unhealthy and unformed relationship. I either gave them too much weight, or discounted their existence. Either let them run my day, or pretended I didn’t feel anything. The amazing news I have to share is that it doesn’t have to be like that. It doesn’t have to be like that for me anymore and it doesn’t have to be like that for you.
Emotions chemically last within our body for 90 seconds. Isn’t that funny? Our emotional experiences occur through a mixture or hormonal and chemical releases that signal certain messages to our brain. These overwhelming, powerful experiences are really just episodes of express trains passing through the grand central station of our mind. Although genetics and environment certainly play a part, these chemical reactions most often come from our thoughts that turn into sensations in our body. So why are they so scary? Why do we flee?
I think the most common reason why we flee is simply that they are uncomfortable and we don’t know what to do with that! Like being in a silent elevator with two other people and not knowing where to look or put your hands. We squirm. And we don’t like to squirm. This is the moment, when you feel the urge to squirm, that we were never taught where to go. The natural instinct to discomfort is to remove ourselves from the stimulus, just like pain - it’s an instinctual response. But have you ever tried to face it head on? To name it, to sit in it, to describe it and bring God into it? I had not. And unknowingly I did many things, unhealthy things, to hide from the discomfort and intensity. The point is not that we learn not to feel. In fact, it is entirely the opposite. The purpose of emotions is to lead us to God. It is a physical way that God is knocking at the door of our hearts, begging us to let Him in and heal us. Our emotional life can be the avenue to our holiness.
Dr. Peter Malinosky of Souls and Hearts once said, “Pain is God’s megaphone.” How true! I so often forget how dependent I am when things are going well or feel less of an inclination to stay close to Him when I feel I have things handled adequately. It is the hard emotions, friends, the heavy ones, the ones that make us feel we might snap in two that cause us to open the door to God because it is here that we are convinced of our incompleteness, our lack, our poverty of spirit, and thus, it is here where we can most readily invite the Lord to flood the space of our hearts. It is here that we can be most willing and ready to give our Yes.
**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.