How we think affects the way we feel, which in turn affects the way we think. It is a vicious cycle. Our primary thoughts are derived from our past experiences, and they determine how we see the world today. In our minds, we have created a framework that we constantly use to evaluate the life around us. Recognizing the emotions associated with our primary thoughts will take us a step closer to dealing with them as we embrace the success mindset.
The Oxford dictionary defines emotions as follows, “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” It goes on to explain the ‘instinctive state’ like this, “instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” The definition reveals to us that we are both rational and emotional beings.
3 popular theories seek to determine the primary and secondary emotions that we have. One says there are 4 basic emotions and another 6, yet another the Plutchik’s wheel of emotions accounts for 8 basic emotions. According to this theory, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, joy, trust, surprise, and anticipation are the 8-basic emotion.
I have listed the negative ones at the start as they are the focus of this article. Don’t get me wrong, these emotions have a valuable role to play in our lives, and they become negative only when we dwell on them long enough for these emotions to become our default set of emotions that run our lives.
The complex nature of emotions
Our brain reacts to our thoughts by releasing hormones and chemicals into our body which cause a state of arousal. Therefore, emotions are complex in nature, involving both biological and physiological processes. Both positive and negative emotions are realized in the same way, but their effect on us is drastically different.
We need to understand how we feel so we can process them, especially the negative emotions, to minimize the negative impact it has on us.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The verse demonstrates the ultimate goal that we need to reach in our own lives. I believe learning about the negative emotions and what the Bible has to say about them is a step in the right direction.
It is defined as an intense emotional state involving a solid uncomfortable, and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, hurt, or threat.
First, let’s see what the Bible has to say when this emotion is out of control in our lives.
Proverbs 29:11, A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.
Proverbs 15:18, A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
Here is the recommendation from the Bible regarding this emotion.
Ephesians 4: 26, 27, Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.
Let’s see how Jesus dealt with this emotion.
In Matthew 21:12, we Jesus demonstrating anger, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.”
Jesus’ anger was directed at the actions of the people in the temple. Jesus did not avoid the emotion, nor did he overdo it. He is all-powerful, and so he could have done anything he wanted, but Jesus exercised control. In Luke 9:53-55, we come across a situation where the people refuse to welcome Jesus. It reads,
But the people there refused to welcome Him because He was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.
Jesus rebukes the suggestion made by the disciples and moves on his journey. There is a lot to learn here: emotion in serving a greater good and the refusal to indulge in the same manner for personal reasons. In the temple, Jesus’ anger resulted from the corruptness and greediness evident in the marketplace, and when it came to his own self, he refuses to dwell on it. He brushes it off and moves on.
Therein lies the lesson for all of us. How do you use anger in your daily life? Does it play a dominant role in your life? Is that one of your default emotions for any situation that does not go according to plan? How would you use Jesus’ example in your life today?
It is a powerful, natural human emotion. Sometimes fear arises from real threats; other times, it can originate from imagined dangers. It is a necessary emotion when dealing with threats that can harm us. Many times, we are cowered by fear because we dwell on imagined situations.
When discussing imagined fears, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
I like the verse in Isaiah 41:10, which says, fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. And the verse in Isaiah 43:1 says, don’t fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.
Kind David dealt with real threats all his life, and he says in Psalm 118:6 The Lord is with me: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
Do you find yourself dwelling on imagined fears? Maybe you have a real threat to your life; would you go to God with them? Take on the identity that God is giving you; you are His and believe it will help you to face life with courage.
It is a feeling of hatred or strong disapproval aroused by something unpleasant or offensive. Physically this emotion has the same effect as fear. This emotion is better understood when associated with words such as underwhelmed and discouragement. Again, the critical idea that needs to be repeated is that the feeling becomes harmful when it dominates your thoughts and plays a central role in your life.
In Matthew 17:17, Jesus demonstrates this emotion towards the people who lack faith. He says, And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”
Kind David demonstrates this emotion to the people who do not follow the word of God. Psalm 119:158 says, I behold the treacherous and loathe them because they do not keep Your word.
Apostle Paul demonstrates it is a similar situation in Acts 18:5,6, “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles.”
Again, in the Bible, disgust is directed towards the action of specific individuals. It is also aimed at things of eternal value like faith, belief, following the word of God, and towards Jesus, the savior of mankind.
When this emotion is continuously entertained, it turns into loathing which is the opposite of trust. Now you can see how that will affect your life.
It is a natural reaction to situations in life that cause emotional upset or pain. We all feel sad from time to time. Things do always go the way we hope, and they don’t work out at all. There is a setback, then there are dead ends. Such results lead to sadness. How do you react to them? Are you stuck in such a feeling? Has your sadness turned into an obsession?
In John 11:35, Jesus reveals raw emotions. He weeps at the loss of Lazarus. Whereas Ecclesiastes 3:4 talks about a time for everything. “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;.”
Proverbs 17:22 talks about the ill effect of sadness. “A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” sadness sucks the life out of the person who dwells in it.
Psalm 30:5 recommends the amount of time to spend being sad. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. …”
Having the ability to express these emotions makes us human, but when we allow them to define us, we limit our true potential. Our ability to become successful is curtailed. Let us exercise some self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” And finally, let me leave you with this verse, Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart(mind) with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”