Emotions drive actions and sometimes that leaves me in a ditch. Emotions can fuel powerful words that ignite emotions in others. Emotions can have a positive side, but they can also have a dark side. I have to find the balance if I am going to keep emotions from driving me into that ditch.
“Quick! Does my Facebook post seem harsh?” I asked my friend in a private message. The post had been founded in frustration and I know that can be a dangerous place to be located. Frustrations leads to ranting and ranting runs on, out of control, and often over people that might be standing innocently in the path.
This day – the rant involved a few concise sentences – just the right size for a Facebook post.
I hit the post button first and then stepped away for a moment to catch my breath. I needed to find a calm. Instead, I found that I simmered in my frustration and I returned to my post expecting a plethora of comments confirming my pious stance.
It had only been up for a few moments, and there were a few likes, but no comments. I struggled to find a peace in the words and debated deleting it before too many eyes caught on. I needed a fresh perspective because the view from other eyes can make me seem better. Seeing from different eyes can help me see clearly.
My friend had not responded to my private message. The internet had not responded to my post. My simmering frustration demanded attention.
I scanned my social media to see what pressing concerns could pry the internet away from my own needs. I found the usual stuff – inspirational quotes, funny pictures, and a link to a video or two (there may have been cats involved).
I also found a link that I had been following earlier in the day. I had been actively engaged with others through that feed. I had been sharing with those others. My frustration had distracted me and I had forgotten all about the others because I was caught up in self.
The realization that the enemy desires that exact response hit me hard.
I get caught up in my frustrations and others fade away. I get caught up in my own need to be right and I forget about the wrongs I may be inflicting on others. I get caught up in demanding you walk the line and follow the rules and I lose sight of my own missteps.
The internet makes it easy for me to get caught up in the things that stir my emotions but have no Spiritual value – in all honesty they rarely have any value at all. Keeping the right focus – the Spiritual better – happens when I keep my emotions in check.
Getting Emotions in Check
1. Take a moment – walk away from the situation if possible (and definitely before you hit publish). Count to ten if walking away is not an option. Even better, do some basic math. Analytical equations move the energy from the emotional center of the brain and make way for more rational choices. The idea is to step away (mentally or physically) from the situation so you can see it from a less “responsive” vantage point.
2. Consider the motivation. Revenge? Vengeance? Pious indignation? What caused the reactionary emotions in the first place? The reason a person is upset is rarely found in the surface explanation.
3. Understand the reality of what can be done. If I am in a position to make a difference in the outcome or direction, that is one thing. Any other situation is better served if I invest my energies in prayer – truth be told, everything is better when I invest my energies in prayer.
The enemy is always on the lookout for ways to distract me from following God’s design for my life. Frustrations – both big and small – are just one more tool in his belt. I have to practice keeping emotions in check if I want to live focused in the Spirit.