Thought vs Emotion

Sorta transcript:

Thoughts and emotions often come so close together and are so similar. How do we tell them apart? How do we know which is which, and why do we care?

Thoughts and emotions. They can be tricky things. 

What do we do with them? How do we know which is which and why do we care? 

We care because we need to do different things with thoughts and emotions. So we need to be able to tell which is which.

It might sound incredibly obvious, but you think thoughts and you feel emotion. 

We need to submit both to Christ. 

However, even though it seems really obvious, it sometimes takes us a little digging into, to like my thinking that or my feeling that. So let’s dive into that a little bit. 

You think thoughts

A thought is something you think. I thought about going to the store. I thought of that friend today. I think this is a lousy situation. All thoughts. You’re thinking them with your logical mind, they’re not always logical thoughts, but you’re thinking them. 

You feel emotions

You’re feeling lonely. You feel upset. You feel disappointed. You feel joyful. You feel excited. You’re feeling those things and you feel them in your body. They’re tied to your thoughts because if you were feeling excited, you were probably thinking thoughts like “I’m so looking forward to seeing my friend,” or “I’m so looking forward to this vacation.” 

So there’s thoughts that go with emotions and that’s how they kind of get intermeshed and kind of hard to tell what is what.

We need to sort it out though because we’re told to take our thoughts captive.

We’re not told to take our emotions captive. 

We’re told to take our thoughts captive. So recognizing that it’s a thought, we can take it captive and figure out what to do with it. Is it a good thought? Is it a thought that’s helping us be the person we want to be? Or is it a thought that’s taking us away from the person we want to be? And that’s where we need to take that thought captive and look at it and decide, is this the thought we’re going to keep? Is this a thought we’re going to get rid of? Is this a thought we’re going to make part of our life? Does it represent who we are? Or is it a thought that we can just get rid of and be done with? 

I think the traditional mindset of taking a thought captive is we’re taking it captive and banishing it. We’re not going to do that with our emotions. 

Emotions are involuntary. Your emotions are like another sense. You can’t help what your eyes see if that’s what you’re looking at. You can’t help what you hear if you’re surrounded by a sound, it’s just a sense. And so your feelings. What you choose to do with what you feel you are totally responsible for, but the feelings that come up just need to be noticed and acknowledged. So you can see what they’re saying and then decide what to do.

So we’re going to take them captive in a sense of capturing them so that we can look at them and explore what they are and where they’re coming from. But we don’t want to capture them and banish them. That’s not healthy. 

Emotions have messages for us and God’s messages never returned void. So if He sends an emotion, it has a message for you. If you just throw it away like, “Oh, I see that emotion. I don’t want it.” Then it just has to keep coming back because you didn’t get the message that you needed from that emotion. 

Instead, invite it close.

Ask, “why am I angry?” Am I angry because something is wrong and something needs to be done about it? Was I disrespected? Was I mistreated? Am I being prideful? Am I being selfish? There’s a message there. And depending on the message, you determine what you are going to do. 

If you don’t listen to the message, you’re not going to know what to do. So that’s why it’s important to separate – Is this something I’m feeling so I can dig in and find the message in it? Or is it something that I’m thinking and I need to look at the thought and see if it’s accurate and true. 

There will be thoughts that come out of the emotions once we sit and listen to them. What’s that message? What’s the thought that comes with that? So if you’re angry and it’s because you feel unheard, you have that – “I feel unheard”. Now you can have thoughts about that. Did I communicate clearly? Was I clear on what I wanted from the conversation? Was the other person? Was it a bad time? 

You can evaluate all those things.

 Once you have the message from the emotion, and again, you could be angry and when you stop and look at it, the reality could be like, “Oh, I was being totally selfish here. That was a completely unrealistic expectation. And I was just being completely selfish.”

There’s something to do with that too. You can repent. You can apologize if you need to and you can move on and see, why was I feeling selfish? Was there a need that wasn’t being meant? Was I just plain and simple being selfish? But you’ll have more information to make better decisions if you will pay attention to those emotions.

And a lot of times the emotions are probably behind the thoughts. I think it can go both ways because people will tell you, “change your thoughts, change how you feel”, which is true in the thoughts you are aware of. So if you’re kind of having a down day, you can choose to focus on things you’re thankful for and grateful for. You can shift that and you can think yourself to a better mood. 

I think the underlying more subconscious emotions, the ones that we’ve been pushing the messages away from, don’t get changed just by changing our thoughts. We need to listen to that message they’re trying to bring, to heal it at a deeper level, rather than just trying to change our thinking, which is flowing out of, you know, Jesus says out of the heart, the mouth speaks. So it’s out of the heart and those emotions that the thoughts are coming.

I like to go into what’s happening in the heart.

What are those emotions and those messages that have been being ignored? Different thoughts are going to flow from a healed heart than from a wounded heart. 

Understanding if it’s a thought or if it’s an emotion brings another level of information for decision-making. And then once you have that information, you bring that before the Lord and submit that to Christ, to ask, “what’s the right decision to make here?”

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