Unhealthy ways of relating to painful emotions

By Dave Henning / August 19, 2018

“There are two opposite, unhealthy ways of relating to your painful emotions.  You can keep them too close to you, or you can push them too far away.  If they’re too close, your risk being overwhelmed by them.  If they’re too far, you risk being cut off from them, only to be influenced by them in harmful ways.”- Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller

In Chapter 1 (“Why Boundaries for Your Soul?”) of Boundaries, Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller talk about resolving the difficult thoughts and feelings ruling our lives.  We work hard and try to set boundaries with others.  Yet, we wonder why we still struggle with anger, fear, and guilt.

Conversely, Alison and Kimberly note, when you’re strong inside, you’re:

  • able to respond with more resilience to life’s challenges
  • true to the person God created you to be and to the work He has planned for you to do
  • realistic about your limitations, with a clear sense of your own values, vision, mission, and priorities
  • aware that the health of your relationships as well as the sustainability of your service depend on the wise decisions you make about how to allot your time

Thus, the authors note, this book walks you through a process where you establish healthy boundaries with the various parts of your soul competing for control.  As a result, you care for your soul as you reshape and redefine your thoughts, feelings, and actions.  In addition, in this book Alison and Kim define the soul as the nonphysical part of you.  And when you care for your soul, you reprogram, or reform, the contours of your inner life.  Therefore, you take responsibility for this.

In conclusion, Alison and Kimberly explain why you need to draw painful feelings in closer:

“Your painful emotions are being experienced by parts of your soul that need to be heard, honored, and understood for you to be able to help them.  Furthermore, the parts of your soul experiencing those difficult emotions have much to say when you get to know them. . . .  the key is to establish comfortable distance with these parts of your soul.”

Today’s question: How have you related to painful emotions in unhealthy ways?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the new Short Meditation, “Restored and made right – I’ve got Jesus!”

About the author

Dave Henning

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