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Posted on May 15th, 2014

“It’s when you’re breaking down with your insides coming out. That’s when you find out what your heart is made of.” Jon Foreman

Circumstances change but your ability to react holds the key to whether your life is lived in peace or agitation. You may come from a happy household. You may come from an unhappy household. You may have been abused. You may have lost loved ones. You may have, insert any situation here. Unfortunately, despite the situation, you must choose how to respond…and here is the difficult part…emotion…we can not choose our emotions…

e·mo·tion [ih-moh-shuhn]
1. an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.
2. any of the feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, hate, love, etc.
3. any strong agitation of the feelings actuated by experiencing love, hate, fear, etc., and usually accompanied by certain physiological changes, as increased heartbeat or respiration, and often overt manifestation, as crying or shaking.
4. an instance of this.
5. something that causes such a reaction: the powerful emotion of a great symphony.

Emotions are real, natural, healthy pieces of our existence. Do not be ashamed of your emotions. Do not try to stop or control your emotions. Honestly, I do not believe we can “control” emotions, nor do I believe it is healthy to try. When we attempt to put a lid on our emotions we set ourselves up for failure. Humans are emotional creatures. We are wired to “feel” things; happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, content, surprise, etc. are all wonderful things. When we stop our emotions we stop learning how to be human. When we try to control our emotions we lessen our ability to understand the world around us. We must experience the fullness of our emotions because they teach about life: real, deep, meaningful life.

But what happens when an emotion becomes destructive? I would suggest that it is not the emotion that is destructive but our reaction to the emotion that is destructive. It may sound like I’m playing with semantics here but I am not. I am looking at the root issue and I do not believe an emotion can be destructive. I believe trying to control, dampen or stop an emotion can be destructive and will lead to destructive behavior. Emotions must be processed because they are built into the fabric of our humanity. The trick is in experiencing an emotion without allowing it to cause destructive or damaging actions. We can choose actions that do not follow the promptings of an extremely powerful emotion. This becomes more and more difficult when dealing with overwhelming or recurring circumstances like abuse (emotional or physical), death and illness. So how do we control our response? I don’t exactly know nor do I think there is one blanket answer. Some people depend on faith while others use sheer will. To each of these I say, “yes.” Emotions are extremely personal. Life is extremely personal. We must each find a healthy response to our built in, God given, emotions…as I experience more I will write more…

In closing I submit the following song and lyrics for your consideration. The song is called “Yet” by a band called Switchfoot. It doesn’t address how to deal with emotions but it does address a powerful concept that a co-worker once explained to me. The power of “yet”. Nothing is finished, yet. There is always a chance to learn new responses. No matter how damaged we are by life, we are not lost, yet. If you are struggling, please keep going. Please keep searching for new ways to respond to your natural emotions. If you are trying to stuff your emotions and think you can control them, I encourage you to instead figure out how to fully experience your emotions. They will help you learn about life. Take a different approach and try to find healthy responses to your emotions.

I should also add that my thoughts concerning “yet” are only my interpretation of this song.


All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She’s got teary eyes
I’ve got reasons why

I’m losing ground and gaining speed
I’ve lost myself or most of me
I’m headed for the final precipice

But you haven’t lost me yet
No, you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights

I’m so confused
What’s true of false
What’s fact or fiction after all
I feel like I’m an apparition’s pet

But you haven’t lost me yet
No you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet

If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break
If it doesn’t break your heart
It isn’t love
If it doesn’t break your heart
It’s not enough
It’s when you’re breaking down
With your insides coming out
That’s when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven’t lost me yet but
No you haven’t lost me yet
I’ll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven’t lost me yet
Cause you haven’t lost me yet

This song can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes.
The header image is from wikimedia commons, used under the Creative Commons License.

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