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Managing Your Emotions
By Joyce Meyer
Harrison HouseCopyright © 1997 Joyce Meyer
All right reserved.
How NOT To BE LED BY YOUR FEELINGS
There are several definitions of the word "emotions." According to Webster's dictionary, the root source of this term is the Latin ex-movere, meaning to move away.
I find that definition very interesting because that is what carnal, uncrucified emotions try to do - to move us to follow them away from or out of the will of God.
In fact, that is Satan's plan for our lives - to get us to live by our carnal feelings so we never walk in the Spirit.
The dictionary also says that emotions are "a complex, usually strong subjective response ... involving physiological changes as a preparation for action." That is true. Because of their complexity, emotions are not easy to explain, which sometimes makes dealing with them difficult.
For example, there are times when the Holy Spirit is leading us to do something, and our emotions become involved, so we get all excited about doing it. The emotional support helps us feel that Cod really does want us to do the thing. We perceive the emotional support to be confirmation of God's will.
At other times, the Lord will move us to do a certain thing, and our emotions will not want anything to do with what God is revealing to us and asking us to do. They give no support at all.
At those times it is harder to obey God. We are very dependent upon emotional support. If we lack understanding about the fickle nature of emotions, Satan can use them - or the lack of them - to keep us out of God's will. I firmly believe that no person will ever walk in God's will and ultimately in victory if he takes counsel with his emotions.
EMOTIONS OR GOD?
The wise also will hear and increase in learning, and the person of understanding will acquire skill and attain to sound counsel [so that he may be able to steer his course rightly].... Proverbs 1:5
Because there are times when we are allowed to enjoy our emotions and the support they give us, and there are also times when our emotions work against us, it is often hard to teach people how to know when they are hearing from God and when they are listening to their emotions.
Just because we have a "gooey" feeling we are supposed to give something away does not necessarily mean it is the will of God. I love to give things to people. It is really one of the greatest joys of my life, but I have had to learn that giving to people doesn't always help them. Actually it can hurt them by hindering what God is trying to do in their life.
If, for example, they are not doing their part to take care of what they have, God may let them remain needy until they learn to take care of what they have. But the person who operates out of emotions will see a need and just be moved to meet it without seeking wisdom.
The Bible teaches us in the very first chapter of Proverbs that we are to operate in wise thoughtfulness. If we don't follow this scriptural advice, we can keep a person from growing up and learning to accept personal responsibility.
The other side of the situation also needs to be considered. There may be someone who is not fully mature in the Lord and has much to learn. He is in need, and his need may be the result of not knowing what to do. God may still lead us to help someone in this state, because we all need encouragement while we are growing in the Lord.
We all make messes in our lives through ignorance of God's ways. Even when we begin to learn His ways, it still takes a lot of time to see all the negative situations in our lives turned into positive ones. We can benefit one another greatly by being sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading to help in various ways. Just being moved emotionally is not being led by the Holy Spirit. Emotions should always be submitted to wisdom! If wisdom agrees, then we can go forward with our plan.
Here is an example: We all love our children and know how difficult it is to see them do without things they want and need. If we have the ability to provide those things, most of us want to rescue them out of any difficult situation they are in. This may be very good most of the time. It is good to help our children and to let them know that we will be there for them when they need us. However, rescuing them out of every difficult situation may prevent them from growing up. Struggle is part of the process all of us need in order to mature.
In researching material for a seminar a while back, I read that a baby eaglet, while he is still in the egg, develops a tiny sharp tooth on the end of his beak. He uses this tooth to repeatedly hit the shell until it finally cracks open. This process takes a long time and requires a lot of tenacity Sometimes well-meaning people try to help by breaking open the shell. When that happens, often the eaglet dies.
Like baby eagles, young people need the experience of the struggle to help prepare them for life. We should help our children, but not to the point of hindering their maturity.
An emotional person is someone who is easily affected with or stirred by emotions. It is good to know ourselves and our personalities. Some people are more emotionally led than others, and knowing this can prevent lots of heartache and pain in life.
Even if we do not fall into the category of an "emotional" person, we each have emotions and are in danger of being led by them. We may get up one morning feeling depressed and follow that feeling throughout the day.
The next day, we may wake up angry - feeling like telling somebody off - and that's what we end up doing. Other times, we may wake up feeling sorry for ourselves and sit in a corner crying all day long.
If we allow them to do so, feelings will stir up problems that will cause us to move out of the will of God and into the will of the deceiver, Satan.
I spent many years of my life following how I felt. If I awoke feeling depressed, I was depressed all day. I didn't know at the time that I could resist these emotions. Now I realize I can put on the garment of praise as the Bible teaches in Isaiah 61:3.1 can sing or play good Christian music - and in doing so - fight against the negative feeling that desires to control me all day.
We must learn to be aware of our emotions and know how to manage them correctly. One way to do that is by recognizing different personality types and knowing how they react differently to similar situations.
FOUR BASIC PERSONALITY TYPES
Just as it is often said that some personality types are more emotional than others, women are thought to have a stronger tendency toward emotionalism than men. According to a teaching that goes far back into history, there are four basic personality types, each of which has an identifying name.
The first type is called choleric, which happens to be the category into which I fall. Cholerics are born leaders. Their strong personalities want to be in control. One of the strengths of those who have a choleric personality is that they usually get a lot accomplished. One of their weaknesses is that they have a tendency to be bossy.
Cholerics are normally strongly goal-oriented and motivated by new ideas and challenges. When the Lord gives me a project, I get all stirred up about it and rush to my husband, who has completely different personality from mine.
Dave is part of the group called phlegmatic. Phlegmatics usually show little or no emotion at all. What is interesting is that a choleric often marries a phlegmatic.
In our marriage, our personality differences used to drive us crazy until we saw Cod's plan in it. Dave is strong in areas where I am weak, and I am strong in areas in which he is weak. I now believe that God brings opposite types together to complement one another, but it took Dave and me a while to learn to accept and operate compatibly with our differences.
To illustrate, I would go to Dave all enthusiastic about something, and his response would be, "We'll see." At times like that, I just wanted to hit him, until I learned to understand him. I was being emotional, and he was being logical. I was looking at the excitement side, and he was looking at the responsibility side of the issue. I used to yell at him, "Can't you ever get excited about anything?"
We would go into dynamic Charismatic churches, and I would emerge from the service saying, "Wow! Did you feel the presence of God in that place?"
Dave would say, "No, I didn't feel a thing." He knew God was present, but he was not basing God's presence on his feelings. For a long time, I thought the man was emotionally dead.
Both of us have changed after years of God's working with us, and we are more balanced now. I am not so emotionally driven, and he shows more excitement when I am genuinely excited about something.
One thing that is good for the people with phlegmatic personalities to remember is that they need to exercise their faith and make an effort to show some emotion. It can be very dull living with an individual who is bland about everything.
If you are a low-key person, you need to stretch yourself on purpose for the sake of others with whom you are in relationship. We are operating in love when we sacrifice ourselves and do what others need us to do.
On the other hand, if you are more like me and tend to get aggressively excited about new things you are involved in, you may need to learn to tone down your emotions and become more of a balanced person. Remember, it is difficult for a more serious and sober person to relate to you because he truly does not feel what you feel. The answer, of course, is balance, as we will discuss later on.
The third personality type is called sanguine. This is the most emotional type of all. The sanguine personality is bubbly and seems to bounce through life. It is easy to tell when a sanguine comes into the room. His voice can be heard above everyone else's: "Oh, I'm so excited to be here!"
The sanguine has a tendency to get on the nerves of a choleric - especially mine! I am the serious, goal-oriented type who always has a plan and am moving toward it. When a sanguine comes bouncing in, it often disturbs me. But the sanguine may not even notice. Because he is so full of fun and energy, he is usually oblivious to anything other than having a good time.
Sanguines often marry the fourth type, called melancholy. As you can guess, melancholies are those who have the most trouble with depression. They are the deep people - the thinkers - the organizers. They are the ones who are so organized they alphabetize their spice racks. They tie their shoelaces and put them inside their shoes before carefully placing them in the closet. They believe there is a place for everything, and everything should be in its place.
Sanguines are frequently not very disciplined, and this is, of course, very difficult for the melancholy types to handle. Melancholies are really neat people. They always have a plan, but they usually end up married to sanguines who couldn't care less whether there is a plan or not. Even if they did have a plan, sanguines wouldn't remember it for more than five minutes. They are the ones who park their car in a parking lot or garage, and then can't remember where they left it!
Do you think a sanguine would worry about that? Not the lady I knew who did it. She thought it was funny! Now she has a new story to tell at the parties she bubbles into.
As you can see, how you and I react to emotions depends to an extent upon which of these four types best describes our individual personality: choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine, or melancholy Most of us are a blend of two or more of the personality types.
It really helps to know yourself. There are some good Christian books available on the subject: Spirit-Controlled Temperament by Tim LaHaye and Your Personality Tree by Florence Littauer.
Always remember that we can learn to control our weaknesses through the power of the Holy Spirit and in doing so become well-balanced individuals who cannot be controlled by Satan.
The term "emotionalism" is used to describe "a tendency to rely on or place too much value on emotion." Often it is defined as an "excessive display of emotion."
An "emotionalist" is "one whose conduct ... is ruled by emotion as opposed to reason."
One project or assignment I always give those who attend my seminars on this subject is to read the book of Proverbs and find all the verses in it that compare emotion to wisdom.
In doing this, they usually learn that one of the differences between wisdom and emotion concerns proper timing.
Wisdom always waits for the right time to act, while emotion always pushes for action right now! Emotionalism is rash. It calls for immediate action. While wisdom calmly looks ahead to determine how a decision will affect the future, emotions are only concerned with what is happening at the moment.
How many times have you said or done something in the heat of emotion, then later experienced deep, deep regret for your rash action?
"Oh, if I had only kept my mouth shut!"
It is amazing the damage that can be done to a relationship by one emotional outburst.
One time, when I was trying to learn to control my mouth and not talk back to my husband, I got so emotional the Lord had to say to me, "Joyce, that's enough! Don't you say another word!" I hurriedly left the room, ran down the hall, and locked myself in the bathroom. I was so upset I buried my face in a towel and screamed into it! Sometimes the strongholds in our flesh become so ingrained, it takes some pretty determined action to break them down. That's why we need to learn to fight against our undisciplined emotions and bring them into submission to the will of God.
[Therefore, I do not treat Cod's gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God.... Galatians 2:21
At first it won't be easy to overcome emotions. It never is. When you and I initially begin to break ourselves of any habit, we have a struggle on our hands. We have to fight within ourselves, crying out to God, "Lord, help me, help me!" It is so wonderful to know that the Holy Spirit is always with us to help us all the time.
If you know you have given yourself over to some bad habit like emotional eating/ when you sit down to the table you have to say within yourself, "Holy Spirit, help me not to overeat."
Excerpted from Managing Your Emotions by Joyce Meyer Copyright © 1997 by Joyce Meyer. Excerpted by permission.
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