Emotions can be overwhelming.
They are overwhelming for a number of reasons.
- We don’t know what to do with them
- We don’t have proper tools
- We don’t know how to use the tools we have
- Our emotions don’t match our situation
A tool for dealing with overwhelming emotions
I’m putting this out there at the risk of you all thinking I’m crazy. I feel it was an idea from God. It was helpful to me when I first used it and again when I reviewed it.
The tool is having a conversation with your emotions in a place of prayer. I think it will be Holy Spirit speaking. Using your imagination opens your mind to hear things you might not otherwise.
My journal, in a place of prayer, I was talking to disappointment. I see this is a very familiar emotion for me now that I’ve learned to name them.
Me: Disappointment, why are you in my life?
Disappointment: I come when things don’t go as expected and when needs are not met.
M: So when did you first come?
D: You’ve always known me. You’ve invited me to stay instead of to deliver my message and leave.
M: Oh, okay. So what is your message?
D: I let you know a need or expectation wasn’t met so you can do something about it. You can let others know. I come to visit and then you decide what to do so I can leave.
M: Well, why do you stay? You keep me around by rehearsing the pain; by not telling anyone I came.
Insightful. This is what disappointment is for us. A reminder to connect with someone. A notice to see what we need.
It’s okay that there was an expectation that wasn’t met. When disappointment comes I can check if it was a realistic expectation. Was it something someone should have done different or is it something I should have expected different? It’s information I can use to help me.
M: Thank you for serving me. You can go now. I see places I needed you and I can share those places. I’m inviting gratitude to come in your place. So then I had a conversation with gratitude.
Gratitude, thank you for coming. What role do you play in my life?
Gratitude: I bring awareness and appreciation for the many blessings God is working in your life. I make hard things worthwhile and easier to bear.
M: How do I keep you here? I like you. I also get very overwhelmed with you and don’t feel like I can function – almost a disappointment that I’m not more grateful or that I can’t stay in you without distraction. I want a sense of how much I have to be grateful for and knowing I don’t really grasp it.
G: You’re used to being overwhelmed, just not by me. You’re used to being overwhelmed by disappointment, discouragement, and grief. Being overwhelmed is what feels familiar. You can rest in being overwhelmed by me, practice feeling me, getting used to my company. It’s good that you know, you cannot fully express or comprehend the blessings on your life. It means you’re humble. You keep me here by expressing gratitude, by allowing the overwhelm of goodness as often as it comes and experience without needing to understand.
And that’s kind of how we sit in our overwhelm of negative things, right? We don’t understand and we stay in it. We can be overwhelmed with God’s goodness, not understand and we can stay there too.
G: Discouragement comes when disappointment is allowed to stay. Disappointment is a blessing. When it’s used to address your needs and expectations, you can be grateful for it.