Work with our emotions

By Dave Henning / April 29, 2024

We want to work with our emotions, not against them. . . .  Honestly naming what we are feeling is essential to untangling our insides.  Jesus constantly asked people questions to get them to name what was true about the deepest parts of their souls.”- Jennifer Allen (bolding author’s)

“If you want to tame it, name it.”- Dr. Daniel Siegel

In Chapter 9 (“The Vocabulary of Emotion”) of Untangle Your Emotions, Jennifer Allen relates her very least favorite question her counselor asks her — How does that make you feel?  A question her counselor asks her all the time.  Because Jennifer felt scared when she couldn’t quite place how she felt.

Yet eventually the evasive tactics of controlling, coping, and concealing become ingrained.  It’s simply our normal way of life.  As a result, we respond like a bit of a programmed robot.  We do so, Jennifer notes, in the way we”

  • answer the question of how we are.
  • become detached from our own feelings.

Above all, the author underscores, humans possess a deep-seated need to name stuff.  For example, we name our vehicles (Irene Impala) and nickname our friends.  And we ascribe this meaning as a way to identify, honor, set apart, and keep everything organized.

So, when Jesus met the woman at the well, He began with a diagnosis.  However, He didn’t share it with the woman.  Instead, Jesus gave her the chance to discover the truth herself.  But even though Jesus met the woman in her despair, embarrassment, and hiding, she withheld.  Consequently, Jesus named it for her when she lacked the courage to name it herself.

In conclusion, Jennifer adds:

“And [Jesus] met her with relationship, hope, and promise — not the shame and guilt she was accustomed to feeling.  He surprised her with His love for her, and they never could have connected unless the fear and guilt she felt were named.”

Today’s question: Do you find most of us opt to work with our emotions or against them?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Emotional wholeness and maturity”

About the author

Dave Henning

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