by Fabio Zabala
Bachelor of Psychology, Colombia
When we analyze the etymology of the word emotion, we find the roots in French. It comes from emouvoir, 'move.' From the etymological family of move, therefore, we can con firm that emotions are the manifestations of a physical, psychological, spiritual, or social state that moves us-by pain, social rejection, loneliness, happiness, enthusiasm, or other feelings. Psychology defines emotion as a tool of empathy, which helps the individual to communicate with others what he feels and thinks without even using words.
Emotions in some cultures, groups, and com munities have been judged or qualified, however, as symptoms of weakness. For this reason, in many situations we hear parents saying to their children: "Don't cry. You're not a baby."
Between childhood and youth, each human being faces moments where he does not know how to express his emotions, and the easiest thing he finds is to smile to disguise his mood. Psychologist Daniel Goleman proposes in his book "Emotional Intelligence" that when each human being can recognize how he is feeling, he can then manage his emotional state in the easiest and wisest way. No one, of course, has the right to express emotion whenever or however he desires. It is important, then, to learn to recognize and name your emotions so you will be able to handle them in the wisest and most prudent way, without offending others or falling into behavior about which you will later feel sorry or ashamed.
Young people and their reactions to emotions
It is common in adolescence to navigate through a sea of emotions, which we do not know how to manage or treat. On one hand, a young person is anxious to finish secondary school and go to a university to achieve his or her dreams. On the other hand, feelings for the opposite sex will most likely arise at this time and become more than a passing interest. Some frustrating failures will probably be experienced during this period of life as well.
All these circumstances can produce in the young many emotions (fear, anxiety, happiness, euphoria, sadness, distress, etc.). causing great suffering. One day, while I was doing my professional practice in a public school, a young man who was about sixteen years of age came to me and asked, "Fabio, what can I do to stop feeling emotions? What psychological technique do you recommend so I do not fall in love again?" As I looked at him, 1 understood the situation he was facing. I saw myself reflected in his experience. At his age, I had also been searching for a way to stop "feeling."
But God did not make us with the capacity to block either the nervous system or the limbic system (the area of the brain in charge of directing and interpreting our emotions and sensations). The reformulated question of this young man would be, "How can I learn to understand my emotions intelligently and at the same time act in a prudent way to avoid unnecessary suffering?" It is not that psychology or the Lord Jesus will always try to spare us pain (of course not). But even though pain does not please us,it is occasionally necessary. Some times pain produced by an emotion becomes the best learning tool for our lives.
Three simple steps to manage your emotions
1 Name your emotion
When you feel yourself entering that sea of emotions, the best thing to do is to stop, reflect, and pray, like king David says in Psalm 55:4-5: "My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me."
David names his feelings "fear fulness and trembling." When we identify the emotion that we are experiencing, this will help us to focus on the response that such emotion deserves. It is like when we go to the doctor: first, the doctor asks what our symptoms are, then makes a diagnosis, and finally, gives us treatment. It would be a disaster if the doctor reversed the process.
2 Employ self-regulation, or self-control
King Solomon, in Proverbs 16:32, says this, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city [emphasis supplied]." Here is emphasized the importance and the value of exercising self-control over our own emotions. Let's remember it is not to deny the emotion or put on a pre tend smile, We do not deny our emotions or wear a false smile-we accept being sad, fearful, or upset. We will not, however, allow these emotions to determine our attitudes toward life. Never should a human being make major decisions based only on emotions, be cause emotions change according to context, environment, and situation.
Let's take into consideration that human beings experience two types of motivation: one, called external motivation, comes from others. The other is self-motivation, also called intrinsic motivation.
The child, youth, or teenager that from an early age develops the capacity to motivate himself will have an extra tool to intelligently manage his emotions. When he faces strong emotions, he will tend to think that as he trusts in God, everything will be fine, that better times will come. Ultimately, experiencing emotions is some thing completely natural in the biology of a human being. This perspective will help him to find a way to not focus only on the negatives of life. He will realize that emotions themselves are neither negative nor positive. Rather, we are the interpreters of our own emotions. Eduard Punset, a researcher in the area of neuroscience, used to say that "It is very bad to get carried away by emotions, but it is worse not to have them."
Jesus was a human who, like you, also experienced strong emotions. How ever, during His emotional storms, He knelt before His heavenly Father. Jesus prayed fervently! He did not give up until He felt that God had taken care of His griefs worries, and/or sadness. Today we also have this kind Helper. Jesus felt what you are feeling, and is patiently waiting for you to come and deposit your burden on His shoulders.
May God bless you and give you the emotional intelligence to walk quietly and placioly through this life--even when adversity threatens to destroy you. •