They Do Exist.

12 Ways To Deal With Emotions From A Grin-And-Bear-It Girl

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Natalie. She blogs at A Blessed Mess on Tumblr. Do you have anything to add to this list? Any breakthroughs you’ve had in allowing yourself to express what you feel in your chest? Leave them in the comments and we’ll share them on Facebook. – Lauren

We all know the physical side effects of negative emotions. Sleepless nights, anxiety, sick stomach. Binge eating, or not at all. Drinking, or isolation. The list goes on forever.

I’m a grin-and-bear-it kind of girl. The never-let-them-see-you-cry kind of upbringing. So, what happens with all those repressed emotions? The things I feel but can’t say, can’t yell, can’t cry?

Emotions of any significance will not be ignored. They will find a way to be heard. I’m beginning to learn that it’s just up to me to decide how.

Until recently, how I let my emotions be heard was not good. I temporarily ignored my feelings, and my ‘out’ was usually acts of rebellion, destruction, etc. These aren’t easy or nice things to admit. But I think I’m getting down to some kind of miraculous breakthrough – something I should have figured out long ago.

When I look back over the years and think about the times I felt trapped, bullied, backed into a corner, or otherwise unable to express my feelings in a healthy, safe, or comfortable environment – I felt like a caged animal being poked or prodded at for the last time. But I’m not an animal. And I’m passive. I don’t have a violent bone in my body. So when that something inside of me been pushed to it’s limits? I act out in other ways. I chase recklessness.

And so, I have learned to pray. To find the good that comes out of my emotional upheaval, instead of just the bad. As a result, my perspective has changed. Instead of wanting to act out in a destructive way, I’m set on a path to discover the true reason for my unhappiness and a long term solution. Instead of a quick fix.

In the past, when I’ve been hurting because of a bad relationship, my solution has been to go find someone else… quick! Before I have to suffer over the last bad choice I made. I should have removed myself from the bad situation, and waited. Slowed down. Learned. Accepted the pain that comes with the breakup or new loneliness, and used the time to grow.

Did you know the two pillars of mental health are the ability to delay gratification and tolerate frustration?

This is what I wish someone had told me long ago:

1. Question everything. Every thought and statement that runs through your head.

We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)

When I catch myself thinking things and saying things in my head that are so mean and spiteful, I know they’re not from my heavenly Father. I know those things come from a place of hurt and resentment. Those thoughts will lead me no where good and certainly no place where I can find peace or happiness.

2. Be the bigger person – ‘the better man’, or woman. Show others how to behave by example. One of the greatest feelings is proving someone wrong, in a good way, through love.

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. (1 Peter 2:15 NIV)

3. Realize that a lot of your emotional stress comes from irrational fears. I’ve heard it said that “fear not” or “do not be afraid” is listed 365 times in the Bible.

For me, my irrational fears sound something like this: What if I can’t make this new job work and something terrible happens? What if I’m not a good mom and something terrible happens? What if I don’t make my boyfriend happy and…? This type of thinking causes a majority of the emotional stress and heartache we experience.

4. Talk to someone. This does not mean emotionally puke all over your loved ones or perfect strangers. It means you engage in a good conversation with someone you trust, whether it’s a friend or a professional, where you can be open and honest without fear of judgement or condemnation.

Counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have insight, I have power. (Proverbs 8:14 NIV)

Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise. (Proverbs 19:20 NIV)

For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers. (Proverbs 11:14 NIV)

5. Get away! If you are going to implode, politely excuse yourself and find someplace you can be alone with God. Take a walk, drive, whatever. Go pray, scream, cry, etc.

6. Journal. I can not say enough about how therapeutic writing down your thoughts are. You’ll discover about yourself after writing down your thoughts.

7. Have faith and confidence in yourself even when others don’t.

8. Have a creative outlet, a way to express yourself in a healthy, productive way. Painting, kick boxing, gaming or making sushi at home. Find something you love to do that you can get lost in for a little while. Everyone needs to be able to forget about their immediate crisis.

9. Spend time with those who love, support, and encourage you. Spend time with people who love you for you. People you don’t have to impress, who think you’re the biggest dork and love you all the more for it. These are the people who could care less how successful you are, or the mistakes you’ve made. These people are the blessings God gives you, to remind you He loves you and is always here for you.

10. Remember that everything is temporary. Except God’s love. That’s eternal.

11. Help others.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 NIV)

Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:4 NIV)

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. (1 Corinthians 10:24 NIV)

12. Acceptance. After you’ve soul searched, talked it out, written it down, prayed, expressed yourself creatively, and spent good quality time with those who love you – the last thing is to accept what you are feeling. Accept that it might not change. That despite our little control-freak lives, we may have to leave it in God’s hands. You have to accept that you tried your best, and trust God that there’s a bigger plan at work.


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46 Responses

  1. That's really good! Totally what I've experienced in the last few weeks!

    January 17, 2012 at 12:03 pm

  2. Ohh! This is so what I needed right now. Thank you for sharing this! God bless you! :)

    January 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm

  3. WOW!!! This is probably my favorite post I've read on this site.
    It is so what I needed to read at this moment that I've dealt with emotions in a not so wise way lately.
    Thank you so much for posting this. You are a very wise girl.
    I so wanna forward this list to friends, put it on fb, and print it out to hang on my wall.
    I love that you included Scripture everywhere. ♥
    God bless you girl, take care!

    January 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

  4. story of my life : )

    January 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  5. justsaskia

    Yes! this is good and practical, totally want to print it off!

    #3 – irrational fear. so true

    January 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm

  6. I deal with a lot of worry and anxiety issues, I have all my life. This is really helpful so thank you. <3

    January 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm

  7. Susanna

    Good. Stuff.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:16 pm

  8. "Did you know the two pillars of mental health are the ability to delay gratification and tolerate frustration?"

    Excellent advice, Natalie. It's a long and arduous road to emotional maturity, but well worth it.

    January 17, 2012 at 11:29 pm

  9. simply_sweet

    I really needed to hear #12. I came to that conclusion on my own a while back, but it feels a bit more validated. Thanks.

    January 18, 2012 at 7:21 am

  10. Kristin angelos

    Beautiful words of wisdom. I used to hide my emotions. At the risk of appearing weak and I did not want to appear weak. but it seems to me that the lord appears to be drawn to my weakness. It makes sence to me though, because when I am weak there is room; a place for him to be strong

    January 18, 2012 at 9:48 pm

  11. THANKS EVERYONE! for your awesome comments! <3

    January 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

  12. abellez

    this is so good. so needed, thank you for this truth and affirmation. could you say a little bit more on what exactly you mean by 'the two pillars of mental health are the ability to delay gratification and tolerate frustration' ?? be blessed!

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