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Christian Counseling - Managing Your Emotions

What do you do when you want to get out of a bad mood or negative feeling? Learning about managing emotions begins in infancy when a parent picks up one who is crying, tickles an inattentive or smileless baby, ignores an angry expression, or feeds a fussy baby. Infants learn what behaviors are OK and not and how to get attention very quickly, which help them deal with emotions, like separation anxiety, loneliness, fear, etc.

It's a parental responsibility to teach children how to manage feelings. Too often it's avoided or not done well. The impatience of parents moves them to give quick directives to children--"Stop crying," "Don't give me any of your lip," "Stop whining," etc. Giving snippy directives doesn't help children, but gives temporary help to parents in managing their own emotion.

Raising children needs to include teaching them to identify feelings--anger, fear, surprise, happiness, etc. This gives them the self-understanding necessary so they can talk about their feelings. They learn to talk out their feelings rather than act out their feelings through negative behavior.

People also learn on their own helpful and harmful methods of controlling what they feel. Scripture talks about joy as coming primary from relationships with God and others. Spending time with trusted others can assuage troubled feelings, such as fear or loneliness. But so can substances, such as alcohol, food and drugs, or activities, like: fantasy, TV watching, shopping, sex and sports. These provide ways in which many manage their emotion that excite or calm them, both of which can produce a high that can lead to addiction. Obviously, not all of these are inappropriate or wrong, but because of the potential of abuse caution should be exercised. Substances and activities are easier and faster at altering moods than having to confront bad feelings and take action to correct them. This is especially true for those who have strong negative emotions, such as depression or anxiety, and don't know how to find relief any other way.

Talking out through confession is one help in managing emotions. Confession first requires a person to look within and confront the truth of what they feel and think--self-confession. Following this is other-confession; that is, talking with God and and others about the problem. Lastly, true confession results in changing one's behavior--repentance. This process is the best tool one can have in their armament to manage emotions.

What do you do to manage your emotions? What has harmed and helped you to effectively deal with difficult feelings? Please share your experiences or insights with our readers.

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