How do you handle your emotions, feelings and reactions as a Christian?


#1

I recently started a new thread and I wasn’t quite clear about it (It was my first thread- sorry!).

So I am doing a talk in my charismatic group about “Emotions in Our Christian Life”. So the goal of the talk is to.

  1. To communicate the role of emotions in a Christian’s life.
  2. To help people learn how to handle their emotions so that these support one’s Christian life.

So my question is to you guys is this:

How do you handle your emotions, feelings and reactions as a Christian?
What do you do when your angry, sad, grieving, depressed or irritable?

If you guys can shed me some light on the topic, experiences, prayers esp. for the control of emotions, stories, book recommendations, songs… anything and everything… I’d greatly appreciate it.

Please pray for me also that I may do well in this talk. I am not really the best person to do a talk on this since I am a very emotional person. My talk is this Saturday.

Thanks in advance for your help and prayers.

~Juris


#2

That’s something I’m working on with my spiritual director but I’d like to hear opinions so I’ll keep on eye on this thread. :smiley:


#3

I like Fr. Chad Ripperger’s book, ‘Introduction to the Science of Mental Health’ on this topic, he’s at the Sensus Traditionis site below. He uses St. Thomas, and applies the Scholastic Method to psychology, making it foundationally a spiritual science, rather than one divested from the soul. Very scholarly work, like a college textbook, resembles the Summa.

Our emotional lives are to be ordered to serve God, when they do not, the emotions are generally to be worked on to change and form a new habit to do so. :slight_smile:

And the passions, of course, are to be overcome.

Both positive and negative emotions all have a purpose for serving God, directed at their proper ends. Hate, Love, Disgust, Sadness, Joy… All have a good purpose and all can also be misused.

Part of the spiritual journey and battle is to overcome the temptations and trials and become someone with God at peace in one’s deepest heart through every storm.

Christ and Mary are our models, and then saints, of how a proper emotional life can be led and often in the latter, the process one goes through to achieve it.

‘But you are to act with regard to eating and drinking and everything else so as to rule and not be ruled by pleasures; so as to master and not be mastered by the flesh. And this is the best. This is the best formula for soul and body: for the better not be dominated by the worse. Be careful regarding journeys outside and worldly contacts not to bring disturbances to the brotherhood. And those of you who are assigned to the boats for going in and out and bringing in what is needed, do not associate with secular people, neither talk nor shout like them, but let your sailing be seemly, so that God may be glorified by it.’

St. Theodore the Studite

‘Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than his God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.’

St. Robert Southwell


#4

Cool question! :slight_smile:

Pace.

Pace.

Pace.

Pace.

Pace.

And during experiences of joy, love, happiness? What else? Pace.

We have a threadbare floor ;).

I pray, unwind and get straightened out while pacing, so I do this whenever I’m going through something emotional.


#5

[quote=Shin;5583661
]

Hi Bro. Shin,

I never really thought of emotions and feelings this way. I have always been taught that you are what you feel and therefore can not really be controlled. This kind of thinking however has led me to depression and serious anxieties.

THank you so much, Ill definitely use what you said in my talk.

God Bless you!

~Juris
[/quote]


#6

You gotta teach me how to pace :stuck_out_tongue:

The initial response usually is flight or fight… and boy do I fight!


#7

I’m just a sixteen year old, but when time gets tough, I train myself to pray, pray, pray. I just sort of ask God to take things in His hands. and He takes care of me. Now I have a problem with letting anger overcome me. I would love to just say, I forgive you and move on, but I stay mad at people. That’s something I’m not proud of, and I need God to help me, so what do I do…pray some more!!

-Jeanne


#8

Pacing rocks! :thumbsup:

Yeah . . . I argue too, when it’s something important to me. Sometimes it can get very heated. I used to argue about anything, but through the strength of prayer the Lord has largely helped me out of that, now. Anyway, pacing and praying while pacing is the best and that’s the way I deal with things, if my emotions are being a bit out there.


#9

I usually just grit my teeth and deal. Bad things happen but life continues.

If I find that I’m only becoming even more upset and I’m in danger of taking it out on innocent people…I go to bed as soon as I am able. A good sleep is my cure-all for a foul mood.

If I wake up still feeling foul…then I resort to praying because I’m all out of ideas.


#10

You know I never thought that was what you’re supposed to do with your emotions. My biggest weaknesses emotionally are fear and awkwardness (although since both result in the same thing, the avoidance of some perceived evil, I kind of group them together). Fear because I tend not to take a stand for Jesus around even my Christian friends (keep in mind I’m 17) in things like if they take the Lord’s name in vain, curse too much, or if their humour starts to get too sexual (not high school locker room type stuff, they are Christian after all, but definately things that are questionable). And awkwardness with things like praying in public, going crazy on worship songs (cuz I attend a charismatic community), talking about God with others, and the like.

What I would commonly do with these emotions would be to ignore it and do the action anyway (rather imperfectly though). Because I know in the catechism it says that emotions aren’t necessary to being holy and with the corresponding virtue to my weakness, fortitude, it is said on catholiceducation.com that in regards to fortitude,
“The truly brave man does not suppress his fear. He really experiences it, but holds fast to the good, moderating the fear of which he is fully cognizant. The principal act of fortitude is to endure…”

With these in mind, I thought emotions that got in the way of holiness should simply be ignored. Although, you, Shin, seem to say that all emotional reactions should be ordered toward God, but at the same time, fortitude, at its heart, seems to say that fear can’t be ordered toward God into the emotion of courage and moments of fear should simply be endured. Could you help explain this seeming contradiction of Catholic truth?

And why do speak of emotions and passions as if they are different? Aren’t they same thing?

Also, how do you explain emotionally the life of someone like Mother Teresa, who suffered through a spiritual desert, in which she could not feel anything towards God? Would you say thats only unique to her and a a few, select others or at some point will everyone experience a spiritual desert.

Please respond because I’m really dying to know the answers.


#11

I don’t do very well with emotions. Right now I’m in a foul mood and really want to be mean – but I’m not going to because I know there are always consequences. Not to mention how factually wrong I am when I try being sarcastic or attempt to dispute something. I’ve screwed myself far too many times in the past by giving in to my emotions, I ought to have wisened up by now!

A friend in college once told me, “You have a head, start using it!”

So, rather than giving in to my emotions negatively, I bought myself two homemade chocolate chip cookies and a Coke Zero. One passion for another, I reckon.

I also have a “praying chair” in a dark corner in this one particular room where I go and just talk to the Blessed Mother or Jesus, sometimes I cry, sometimes I just throw a pillow across the room, sometimes I just clench my head in frustration.


#12

I think your diet might have something to do with this, really. Google: eating too much sugar and caffeine. Whatever is happening is God’s will for you at the time I think, so accept it, flush the Oreos, and offer it up.


#13

I believe emotions run deeper then just something to be ignored or suppressed.

Where is the Joy in Heaven over one lost sinner who repents… Joy is an emotion. Or shall I say a spiritual sense felt emotionally. The spiritual world is unseen, but it can be felt through our emotions.

Our intuition is connected to our spirit/soul and can be sensed… sometimes, emotionally. These are things that we have not put all together yet as knowledge… but that are part of us and do exist.

Is guilt an intellectual knowing, or a feeling, emotion? Is happiness an intellectual knowing, or a feeling, emotion. How is our desire to do anything fueled… by passion, emotion. The will decides, but the emotions carry through. Where does our energy come from? The fuel by which we are able to act?

And what is Love? This is contained in the two main Commandments… to Love God and to Love neighbor. Can this be done without emotions?


#14

:thumbsup:
Great choice! Brought a smile to my day :).


#15

You’re not called to judge your neighbor. Don’t worry about rebuking them for their faults unless you are in a position where you really think it might do them some good, where you think they might actually change. Don’t fight battles pointlessly. Jesus didn’t judge the sins of the woman at the well.

Do pray for them, and witness your own faith by not following in that example. If they ever ask you why you do what they do, tell them the truth. Or if circumstances become such that your opinion is called for, give it. But you aren’t called to judge their sinfulness, so take comfort.

[quote=Koolerkev] And awkwardness with things like praying in public, going crazy on worship songs (cuz I attend a charismatic community), talking about God with others, and the like.
[/quote]

You needn’t worry about this. If someone asks you about your faith, share it. If someone opens a door, walk through it. But if it isn’t relevant to the conversation, no one’s calling you to just stick it in. Fear of praying in public and awkwardness with worship songs is also not serious at all. There isn’t any problem with being awkward with that.

[quote=Koolerkev]What I would commonly do with these emotions would be to ignore it and do the action anyway (rather imperfectly though). Because I know in the catechism it says that emotions aren’t necessary to being holy and with the corresponding virtue to my weakness, fortitude, it is said on catholiceducation.com that in regards to fortitude,
“The truly brave man does not suppress his fear. He really experiences it, but holds fast to the good, moderating the fear of which he is fully cognizant. The principal act of fortitude is to endure…”
[/quote]

Good quote! Sounds absolutely true.

[quote=Koolerkev]With these in mind, I thought emotions that got in the way of holiness should simply be ignored.
[/quote]

These emotions don’t seem to be getting in the way of holiness, but rather protecting you from unnecessarily irritating people with you. Your faith in no way calls you to do the things you were thinking you need to.

[quote=Koolerkev] Although, you, Shin, seem to say that all emotional reactions should be ordered toward God, but at the same time, fortitude, at its heart, seems to say that fear can’t be ordered toward God into the emotion of courage and moments of fear should simply be endured. Could you help explain this seeming contradiction of Catholic truth?
[/quote]

No, fear can be ordered to God by suppressing it and acting in courage too.

[quote=Koolerkev]And why do speak of emotions and passions as if they are different? Aren’t they same thing?
[/quote]

Passions, I guess, are more passionate than regular emotions. Not to sound stupid. I think they also cause out of the control behavior.

No, lots of people go through this. Possibly everyone. This desert is a wonderful place to accumulate virtue and to live by faith.


#16

:thumbsup: It definitely helps let off steam! I almost always pace when I am on the phone.
Also, the reason I am wearing a brown scapular medal is because my confessor told me I could simply hold the medal and ask Mary and her son to help me any time someone frustrated me. I recommend it.


#17

This sounds a good idea. I wear the Brown Scapular and the Miraculous Medal, so maybe I’ll grab both and do this if I’m not in a situation where I can just go and pace.


#18

For some reason I can’t give a comprehensive answer at the moment.

My head is full of fog and I am under the weather, so I am not overly surprised I can’t think well enough to put it all smoothly.

The Summa has some of the answer, or all of it with thought and prayer perhaps.

I would say, “Think about Heaven, and how you will think and feel there.” for a model of sorts. One would not wish to think, feel, will, act, know, anything but purely. All in all, pure and white as snow on the lilies.

Here are some quotations.

‘To abstain from sinful actions is not sufficient for the fulfillment of God’s law. The very desire of what is forbidden is evil.’

St. John Baptist de la Salle

'In praying, daughter, I was acting like a man who wants to construct a beautiful fountain from scratch. First he goes to the foothills of the mountain beneath which water wells up, and he listens carefully to discover in which area there are streams of water flowing through. When this has been investigated through hearing, he immediately begins to excavate in that part of the mountain until he finds the headspring of the welling streams. Then he channels the water to the site of the fountain. He makes the site wide, beautiful, and sparkling clean, so that the water there will be always kept pure and bright. After that, he constructs a wall around the fountain and sets up a stone column in the middle of the fountain, making spouts all around it through which the water may freely flow on every side. And the water is available for people to drink. This is what I did, spiritually speaking.

For I went to the mountain when I carefully listened to and learnt the Law of Moses and all the commandments of the Decalogue. Then I discovered the stream of water when, through reading, meditating, and praying, I learnt that the headspring of all goodness was to love God with all one’s heart, all one’s soul and all one’s strength. Then I channelled the water to the site of the fountain when I conceived a firm desire of loving all that God loves, and hating all that he hates. Then I did indeed keep the water sparkling clean and bright when I was zealous to protect the desire of my heart and the emotions of my lower nature, keeping them unharmed from all defilement of sin. Then I constructed a wall around the fountain when I took care to protect unharmed all the virtues and especially humility, patience, and kindliness, together with faith, hope, and charity, right to the end of my life. Then I set up a column and inserted spouts in it when I gave myself as model and source of help for all those who loved me and wanted to cleave to me, always ready to stand by them and offer them the water of divine grace to drink.’

The Blessed Virgin to St. Elizabeth, from ‘The Revelations of St. Elizabeth of Toss’

'I adore You, O Precious Blood of Jesus, flower of creation, fruit of virginity, ineffable instrument of the Holy Spirit, and I rejoice at the thought that You came from the drop of virginal blood on which eternal Love impressed its movement; You were assumed by the Word and deified in His person. I am overcome with emotion when I think of Your passing from the Blessed Virgin’s heart into the heart of the Word, and, being vivified by the breath of the Divinity, becoming adorable because You became the Blood of God.

St. Albert the Great

Detachment from creatures and things. Watch over my emotions. Listen to Jesus who says to me so often: “My daughter, give me your heart. I want it entirely to myself.”’

St. Bernadette Soubirous

‘The incensive power usually troubles and confuses the soul more than any other passion, yet there are times when it greatly benefits the soul. For when with inward calm we direct it against blasphemers or other sinners in order to induce them to mend their ways or at least feel some shame, we make our soul more gentle. In this way we put ourselves completely in harmony with the purposes of God’s justice and goodness. In addition, through becoming deeply angered by sin we often overcome weaknesses in our soul. Thus there is no doubt that if, when deeply depressed, we become indignant in spirit against the demon of corruption, this gives us the strength to despise even the presumptuousness of death. In order to make this clear, the Lord twice became indignant against death and troubled in spirit (cf. John 12:27, 13:21); and despite the fact that, untroubled, He could by a simple act of will do all that He wished, none the less when He restored Lazarus’ soul to his body He was indignant and troubled in spirit (cf. John 11:33) - which seems to me to show that a controlled incensive power is a weapon implanted in our nature by God when He creates us. If Eve had used this weapon against the serpent, she would not have been impelled by sensual desire. In my view, then, the man who in a spirit of devotion makes controlled use of his incensive power will without doubt be judged more favorably than the man who, because of the inertness of his intellect, has never become incensed. The latter seems to have an inexperienced driver in charge of his emotions, while the former, always ready for action, drives the horses of virtue through the midst of the demonic host, guiding the four-horsed chariot of self-control in the fear of God. This chariot is called ‘the chariot of Israel’ in the description of the taking up of the prophet Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs. 2:12); for God spoke clearly about the four cardinal virtues first of all to the Jews. This is precisely why Elijah ascended in a fiery chariot, guiding his own virtues as horses, when he was carried up by the Spirit in a gust of fire.’

St. Diadochos of Photiki


#19

‘Anxiety arises from an unregulated desire to be delivered from any pressing evil, or to obtain some hoped-for good. Nevertheless nothing tends so greatly to enhance the one or retard the other as over-eagerness and anxiety. Birds that are captured in nets and snares become inextricably entangled therein, because they flutter and struggle so much. Therefore, whensoever you urgently desire to be delivered from any evil, or to attain some good thing, strive above all else to keep a calm, restful spirit, - steady your judgment and will, and then go quietly and easily after your object, taking all fitting means to attain thereto. By easily I do not mean carelessly, but without eagerness, disquietude or anxiety; otherwise, so far from bringing about what you wish, you will hinder it, and add more and more to your perplexities. “My soul is always in my hand, yet do I not forget Thy Law,” David says. Examine yourself often, at least night and morning, as to whether your soul is “in your hand;” or whether it has been wrested thence by any passionate or anxious emotion. See whether your soul is fully under control, or whether it has not in anywise escaped from beneath your hand, to plunge into some unruly love, hate, envy, lust, fear, vexation or joy. And if it has so strayed, before all else seek it out, and quietly bring it back to the Presence of God, once more placing all your hopes and affections under the direction of His Holy Will. Just as one who fears to lose some precious possession holds it tight in his hand, so, like King David, we ought to be able to say, “My soul is always in my hand, and therefore I have not forgotten Thy Law.”’

St. Francis de Sales

‘I do not desire to see in superiors all the emotions of the soul, and above all those of anger, extinguished and entirely destroyed, but I want them perfectly subdued.’

St. Ignatius of Loyola

'When the intellect grows strong, it makes ready to pursue the love which quenches all bodily passions and which prevents anything contrary to nature from gaining control over the heart. Then the intellect, struggling against what is contrary to nature, separates this from what is in accordance with nature. Examine yourself daily in the sight of God, and discover which of the passions is in your heart. Cast it out, and so escape His judgment. Be attentive to your heart and watch your enemies, for they are cunning in their malice. In your heart be persuaded of this: it is impossible for a man to achieve good through evil means. That is why our Savior told us to be watchful, saying: “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there are that find it (Matt. 7:14).”

St. Isaiah the Solitary

'Purity comes from Heaven; we must ask for it from God. If we ask for it, we shall obtain it. We must take great care not to lose it. We must shut our heart against pride, against sensuality, and all the other passions, as one shuts the doors and windows that nobody may be able to get in. What joy is it to the guardian angel to conduct a pure soul! My children, when a soul is pure, all Heaven looks upon it with love! Pure souls will form the circle round Our Lord. The more pure we have been on earth, the nearer we shall be to Him in Heaven. When the heart is pure, it cannot help loving, because it has found the source of love, which is God. “Happy,” says Our Lord, "are the pure in heart, because they shall see God!

My children, we cannot comprehend the power that a pure soul has over the good God. It is not he who does the will of God, it is God who does his will.’

St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney, the Cure of Ars


#20

I pray none of our more scrupulous CAF members happen upon these quotes.


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