Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Emotional Wisdom

Welcome if you followed the link from my devotion published today at Proverbs 31 Ministries. I talked about feeling frustrated from the get-go one morning and struggling to get a grip on my emotions. That particular day I was battling frustration and disappointment (laced with a little selfishness I'm sure). Other days it has been stress, sadness, envy, anger, or feeling hurt by someone.

In a Gallup poll a few years ago, 90% of respondents described women's core nature as "emotional." And according to the National Academy of Sciences, they're right. The Academy says, "Women's brains are wired to both feel and recall emotions more keenly than the brains of men."

I think that's both a plus and a minus. It's mainly only a minus when we can't gain the upper hand on our flying emotions. By the way, suppressing them isn't the same as dealing with them.

An article in Scientific American warns that, "Women who hold back feelings of anger may end up more irate in the long run. According to new research, women experience a rebound effect when they suppress angry emotions, which can result in greater feelings of fury."

You're probably thinking, tell me something I don't know! So what can we do when we feel our emotions getting the best of us?

Number one on my list of responses is PRAYER. Take those unruly feelings to the One who can handle them. Give God your permission to rule over them. He is the God of all Comfort, the Prince of Peace, and the Author of a sound mind. Claim your sound mind and ask Him for peace in Christ's name.

Also tops on my list is READING the Bible. This is the one I turned to the day I wrote the "Feeling Emotional" devotion. Grab hold of a relevant scripture and repeat it until you can believe it. You can rewire your thinking with the Bible. I use verses to replace my overly emotional - often irrational - thoughts with eternal reality from the Reality Maker Himself. Try reading the Psalms.

It's proven that EXERCISE tames our stress and get us thinking clearly again. 15-20 minutes on my treadmill with upbeat music playing does me a lot of good when I'm angry or depressed. It helps when I'm feeling stuck or out of control. And as Elle explained in the movie Legally Blonde: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't kill their husbands. They just don't."  :)

That leads to the next one on my list, HUMOR. Everybody needs somebody who can make them laugh. Laughter not only makes us feel better, but it's good for our health according to Proverbs 17:22. Laughter has an amazing by-product - it puts our problems in perspective. It's a gift from God. Research shows it can stimulate our problem-solving abilities as well.

Sometimes I just have to WRITE. Spilling my feelings onto the page of a journal unburdens my mind. And writing a letter to someone who hurt me can unburden my heart. Most of the time I decide never to send the letter, and that's OK because it served its purpose by helping me think through things and calm down. Even writing a to-do list can keep me from feeling overwhelmed some days.

What do moms do when a toddler gets upset? Often they redirect them. They shift their focus off the upsetting thing to something more pleasant - maybe point out their favorite toy. So next on my list is REFOCUS on something. Stop stewing and start doing something productive. Immerse yourself in a project you enjoy. Write something. Cook something. Plant something. Sew something. Scrap something. Clean something. Get your mind off it.

Be careful here that you don't use this one to just sweep things under the proverbial rug and never deal with what needs dealing with. Use diversion to calm down and let your subconscious sort things through.  Then face it once you are more centered. Or, use diversion when what you are facing cannot be dealt with or changed (think Serenity Prayer here).

And finally, research shows that dark CHOCOLATE can be of help in soothing emotions. You didn't really think I would write a post on dealing with women's emotions without mentioning chocolate did you?  But as I point out in It's No Secret, numbing our emotions with food can cause additional problems. Namely, love handles. So use moderation.

These are just a few of my strategies. If you've got a solution for reigning in your emotions on days when they're flying - please share and you'll be entered to win a copy of the book mentioned above.

Meanwhile, here's wishing us both an emotionally peaceful day.


  1. What wonderful words that I needed to hear so very much. Thank you for reminding me how much I need to exercise (elle!) and need to stop feeding my pain. Share my thoughts out loud to God and on paper. Priceless wisdom written with absolute grace & beauty.

  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for the sharing. It really talked so much to me. Yup, God is there for everything.. but i need more practice though! thanks again.


  3. Thank you so much for your encouragement today. I feel like my emotions are always something I fight to control. I appreciate the reminder that God made me this way and He wants to help me!

  4. This is so great. Just perfect. With so many stresses it's easy to give in to the emotions of them all. Not only have you addressed that emotions are okay (Jesus felt them) but there's a way to not let them take over. Just what I needed for today. THANK YOU!

  5. I needed that devotional this morning! Thank you.

    I use prayer more than anything to get my mind back on track. I have been making a great effort to pray in the mornine BEFORE my two little ones get up for the day-this is one of the best ways to get my mind where it should be and start out right.

  6. Yes, women are very emotional. I am thankful that we can pray and read the Word to help us get through the tough times. Thank you for encouraging those of us that need to be reminded to focus on Christ. I continue to pray for you and all involved with Proverbs 31 Ministries...all of you are such a blessing to all us Jesus girls.

  7. Awesome devotion today, Rachel. Powerful truths were shared. Praying for every mom who needed to hear that word today! I have been there!
    Have a wonderful day!

  8. Perfect devotion for me today! After I just gave into my emotions and got frustrated and am now feeling guilty because of it. This has helped! Now I need to go apologize to my husband for using harsh words because I was feeling frustrated that he was sleeping and letting the baby cry expecting me to get up.

  9. Such a great post Rachel!! Love the wisdom and practical steps you shared here. I also loved the topic of your devotion, and how you wrote it. So many will relate and be ministered too!!

    Can't wait to see whatcha cookin tomorrow. Are you for hire in my kitchen?

  10. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    Thanks for this devotion of encouraging words. Too many times my emotions are out of control. Your sugestions are good reminders that can help.

  11. Thanks for sharing - I do remember the days when one of my kids would wake up ill and having to cancel everything I had planned - Now...I truly love the chance to stay home with them (just not the sick part!!!) How wonderful that the Lord is able to change our outlook! Music always helps to calm my emotions!!!!

  12. Wise words from a wise woman. I did get a chuckle out of this one, "Happy people don't kill their husbands. They just don't!"

    Cooking challenge, huh? I'm going to tune in : )

    Blessings to you today,

  13. Thank you so much or this devotion this morning. I so needed to hear it again. Am writing these down as some things I must do. ( and writing is one of my favorite things to do). It is so easy to keep them on the back burner forgetting them until its too late. Thank you.

  14. Rachel,
    I so needed to read what you wrote today. I have been on an emotional turmoil since last Wednesday when my daughter narrowly escaped the tornado in Tuscaloosa, AL. The days since have made me grateful to God and at the same time, question Him. My heart has been so heavy. Thank you for your suggestions. God always speaks directly to me when I need to hear Him. Today it was through you.

  15. I really enjoyed this post and your related P31 devotional.

  16. I've found talking out my stress with a good friend helps calm my emotions. Sometimes if we have the right person to help us weigh things out, it isn't as bad as we see it!

  17. Ladies, please keep in mind that, if you have a hard time redirecting your emotions as Rachel suggested, medical assistance may be needed. I suffer from clinical depression and have needed medication to help me get to the point where I can redirect in the wonderful ways that Rachel mentioned in her blog.

  18. I love that you mentioned "dark chocolate." All that you mentioned do seem to help. Will check back tomorrow for the frittata.

  19. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    Wow ... I'm a busy physician and father. I read Encouragement for Today because you just can't find insightful stuff like this men's sites. Like my wife says, "thank God for girlfriends." Too many times in my hectic days my emotions turn a good day into bad, whether at work or home. My prayer will be to "trade emotions for strength" that only comes from God. Thanks sooo much.

  20. Great post! I struggle with this often. Starting my day off with devotion and quiet time with Him helps me. I also ask myself how I would look if my reaction was being recorded on camera. Not so pretty some days! Thanks for the encouragement and great suggestions!

  21. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    So good to know I'm not alone on the emotional rollercoaster! Thank you so much for sharing.

  22. Good post, but you always write good ones. You have a God-given talent that is to be treasured.

    Sometimes when I get so frustrated I end up crying and that releases all my frustrations. A week ago we were visiting my oldest daughter along with my youngest and my granddaughter who will soon be 13. We had gone to visit the Botannical Gardens and even though we road trams it just got the best of me. (I'm having more problems in my back) When we sat down to eat dinner I just laid my head on the table and started crying and said I felt I had ruined the day for everyone. My granddaughter came up to me and said, "Mommaw, can I have a smile?" Well that just broke me in two. I started laughing and so did everyone else.
    So I guess what I'm saying is sometimes we just have to have a good cry or a good laugh which helps get rid of the frustrations.

  23. From the Heart - good point. Sometimes a good cry is all the release we need.

  24. Thank you, Rachel, for your words today....I need them....so much stress in my life....and I don't need more but it came to me yesterday when my daughter arrived with her dilemma. I take it all on in the name of helping them through their stuff.
    Think I'll make some cookies.....

  25. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    I can so relate when I had my three pre-schoolers and I was a facilitator in our MOPS group. I prayed really hard to have healthy children on our meeting days. If one was sick I would have a pity party because I thought God should know I needed to get out of the house for some spiritual refreshment. We did not miss many, but my self-reprimand was to count my blessings and thank God for all the "silent blessings" I received everyday. Jane

  26. Good morning, Rachel :-) Thank you for sharing your wisdom and helpful tips for redirecting our out of control emotions. As Judy C mentioned, sometimes these emotions can be caused by chemical imbalances as well as outside circumstances. I say this because I recently went through a period of completely out of control emotions and most of the practical advice you've listed (dark chocolate was first on my list) didn't help alleviate them. Consulting with my doctor and a natural Serotonin balancing supplement did, though. I'm sure Jesus led me to seek professional help, so prayer was an absolute winning tip (isn't it always?)!

    Another interesting thing to know, some of the practical tips you've indicated actually produce positive hormones in the brain. For instance, Oxytocin is released when we feel love, trust and comfort. That's a really "feel good" hormone. :-) So, pausing to pray and read the bible can not only redirect our craziness, but also produce a chemical reaction in our body to counteract them. We are amazingly and beautifully made by our creator, aren't we?

    Bless you for always writing things that "click" with me, Rachel!

  27. Thank you so much for your devotional and blog today, Rachel! It was just what I needed to hear. This morning has been a struggle. I have become increasingly bogged down in negative emotions. Thank you for reminding me that we women are emotional. After reading your words I realized that I tend to take my emotions as truth - instead of seeking God's truth. God used you to open my eyes today. I will seek His truth today instead of believing my feelings.

  28. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    I found my emotions getting the best of me today so I went online looking for a daily devotional and then found your blog. Very inspirational and I feel comfort in the fact that we all struggle with the same thing. I've recently been doing Bible Study with my husband and a separate session with my 10 yr. old son and somtimes even during that time my emotions can grab a hold of me so I stay focused on asking myself how I can respond rather than react - it takes a lot of self control and prayer, thanks for the reminder :)

  29. Today's P31 devotion was just what I needed today. I was battling a miriad of emotions on my way to the office, hoping the louder I played the latest Casting Crowns CD, the easier it would be for me to push down the self-centered emotions I was feeling this morning. Thank you for the power verses for today and the application steps. Tools to help me through today.

  30. Thanks for sharing this. God is always reminding us who He is and how He has a plan. I personally like the chocolate idea with hot tea of course too.


  31. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement I struggle with my emotions daily and if I let them they will totally overtake my rational thinking. Your words are all great and I have found His word and prayer very helpful. Something I do often is listen to praise and worship music. God inhabits the praise of his children. So I listen to praise music whenever the emotions are trying to overtake me. Thank you again

    Rebecca G.

  32. AnonymousMay 03, 2011

    This post so much needed...and how interesting that it came on a day where I feel REALLY fraustrated -divine intervention? I think so....Anyway, I love to WORSHIP when I am feeling stressed. It's a great stress reliever....Sing LOUD to my Father.


    Karina Browning Frogkb@hotmail.com

  33. Rachel this deotional was on the money, my past few days have been emotional...let me rephrase that the past few months have been an emotional roller coster.. my husband of 14 years left me for another woman, the yards need to be cut, someone ran into my utility room with a car and demolished it, I found out someone molested one of my grandsons, I am raising 2 of my grand daughters by myself now since my husband decided to check out of our marriage and follow the yellow brick road to hell :).... and what did we talk about in Bible Study to night? MARRIAGE... ... I read your writng and all of my stress melted away, I also took notes in my journal to look back over.... I couldnt wait to get home to see what nugget of information was in my inbox for today.. Blessings to you and yours

  34. AnonymousMay 04, 2011

    Your devotion and blog has really helped me in a time of frenzy....thank you so much for your calming words and recommeded actions. It really does help me to make the to do list..getting it all on one sheet of paper--then assigning dates of completion...then praying for the strength that only Christ can give me...


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