Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Wholeness: Emotions

What is your relationship with your emotions? If you are like most people, you probably never even considered the question, let alone know how to answer it. One could write a whole book on the subject, but to simplify the notion to blog proportions, let me put it within the broad context of the "goal-oriented, avoidance-oriented-spectrum."

I think we can all guess what goal-oriented is. We decide what we want, in this case, the emotions we want to experience, then develop strategies to experience them. We live in a culture that tends to elevate the goal-oriented. (Only not as much as it used to) Most motivational speakers follow this mantra after all. However, the method is really only as good as the goals themselves. When we are letting our feelings dictate them, they can very easily become shallow, superficial, and selfish.

Avoidance-oriented is just the opposite. We identify what we don’t want to experience, and implement methods of avoiding them. The risk here is that we can allow trauma to dictate the course of our lives; since everything is perceived through the filter of fear.

While different personalities tend to favor one side over the other, everyone is capable of both. We all have compartments of our lives where we have goals; and others where we have avoidances. However, if we really want to achieve wholeness, we need to look beyond that. Learn to act deliberately, not just react emotionally.

In our goals, we need to make sure they are established in righteousness, character, and integrity; not just what feels good. Otherwise, we may end up on an unholy path, and as someone else's avoidance. Which can come back to haunt us.

Yet in our avoidances, we need to make sure they are based on truth, and not just fear. Trauma has a way of keeping people from seeing things clearly and objectively. Causing us to project our fears upon everyone, and every situation. This only sabotages our goals; and keeps us from moving forward in life, including our walk as disciples.

Consider this, there is a reason why we have love-affairs with our favorite shows, movies, and musicians. They frequently affirm or validate our emotions. They help us to understand the emotions that we put no effort into examining ourselves. Most artists are naturally more self-aware than the average person after all. Understanding through an artistic proxy if you will. This can be a good thing, but here is the caveat. These industries are run by people who are more interested in profit, than the good of the public. So they tend to promote those projecting the lowest common denominator.

This brings up the age-old question, does entertainment affect society, or merely reflect society? Since people are more apt to respond to what rationalizes their feelings, I lean towards reflect. Which places these problems in our own house, not just on an outside source. Hence, our reluctance to accept reflection. However, breaking the mirror destroys only the reflection, not what is being reflected. It only makes the problem less noticeable; it doesn't actually deal with the issue at hand. The world has real problems, and they lie deep within human souls. So dealing with them means having more than a casual acquaintance with our emotions, and facing the brokenness behind them. As opposed to just putting a candy coating on everything as we tend to do.

So again I ask you, what is your relationship with your emotions? Is it intimate enough to achieve wholeness? Or only superficial enough to create the illusion of wholeness.

Jesus consoling a man who hates himself
John 4:1-26, Matthew 19:16-22

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