Five Strategies for Managing Surface Emotions

Emotions are powerful. They bring us to tears, drive us to take action, set us on the edge of despair. Feelings can be stirred by a word, an image, or an experience. 

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 Photo by wikimedia commons/User:Ritchyblack

Problems With Emotions

Some people bury their emotions deep while others carry theirs on their sleeve. I’ve been blessed to inherit my mother’s ability to cry over almost anything, and I exercise it often.

Several times a day I find tears filling my eyes as I read something personal, vulnerable, or beautiful. Yet still other moments I erupt in anger or frustration over relatively minor occurrences. 

My emotions tend to swirl like the snow outside my window on this blustery winter day. 

Hiding our emotions is not healthy, but neither is letting them run our lives. There is a fine line to walk when it comes to feelings. And it’s something I’ve struggled with all my life. You may have as well.

Hiding our emotions is not healthy, but neither is letting them run our lives. Click To Tweet

So how can we control our emotions? How can we remain sensitive yet be measured in our responses? 

Strategies for Controlling Emotions

For those of us whose emotions run near the surface, there are several tools and strategies that are helpful.  

  1. Remember, you were made with feelings. And being in the image of God, that cannot be bad. (Scripture chronicles many feelings expressed by Jesus, including anger, love, and sadness.) The problem doesn’t lie with having feelings, but in how we express them. So embrace the emotional you.
  2. Get in the habit of putting yourself in emotional time out. (Counting to 10 is a great strategy for adults as well as children.) This allows space to gain perspective and prevents a “knee jerk” reaction. There have been times when I’ve been sure I responded correctly in the heat of the moment, only to see the error of my reactions later.
  3. Spend time in prayer. Ask for God’s perspective. His is always true.
  4. Identify what triggers your intense responses. Knowing and planning for these moments can help you temper the “eruption.”
  5. Extend yourself some grace—always. The Lord does. Realize our emotions hold immense power. It will take time to learn to respond in a measured way when those feelings are engaged—but so worth the effort.

You can learn to control your emotions and have better reactions. These five strategies/tools will help. Click To Tweet

We always have a choice.

Two Choices

We can serve our feelings, as these examples from the Bible demonstrate: 

  • The original Ten Commandments (the ones God wrote on with His own finger) were lost when Moses responded in anger (Exodus 32:19).
  • Cain killed his brother in a jealous rage (Genesis 4:5-8).
  • And David gave into lustful feelings and paid for it with the life of his son (2 Samuel 11–12).

Or our feelings can serve us (more biblical examples): 

  • Ruth let her love for her mother-in-law overcome her fear of the unknown. In return, she made a new rich life for herself and Naomi (Ruth 1).
  • Esau let go of the anger against his brother Jacob so they could be reunited (Genesis 33:4). 
  • Moses’ penitence and obedience brought the Israelites to the promised land (Deuteronomy 34:5-8). 

We can serve our feelings, or our feelings can serve us. Let's make sure it's the latter. Click To Tweet 

So all you emotional types, rejoice in your ability to enjoy the moment. Just make sure you incorporate restraints and parameters while you do.

And to those of you who tend to be emotional stuffers, don’t be afraid of your feelings. They are a gift.

 “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).

Reflections: What strategies have you found helpful in tempering emotional responses (or drawing your feelings out)? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈


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I am a blessed wife, mother of four, and follower of Jesus Christ, celebrating each messy day through His grace. I write, edit, and speak as God leads.

Posted in Christian walk, Growth
  • Love #2 Julie. You know me and habits :). In fact I wrote down that same habit as a goal in my journal. I’m shooting for 3 seconds but 10 seconds sounds even better.

  • Tracy

    Hi Julie, this is such a great post. I love how you say our emotions should serve us and not the other way round. Thank you for linking up and i look forward to seeing you there again next week
    God bless

  • Pingback: Manage Your Emotions So They Don't Manage You()

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Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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