I have road rage. It’s shameful to admit, but I do. I get angry if people are driving too slowly. I get angry if people are driving too fast. I am generally just angry when other people are driving. I want the road all to myself. I feel as though I somehow deserve that.
When I am driving and my road rage kicks in, I have two options: I can act on my anger or I can choose not to. Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. When my feelings are strong enough it feels like my ability to choose goes out the window. When someone cuts me off, I instinctively lay on the horn and throw out some choice insults. I have been known to flip people off a time or two. It’s easy to not give this a second thought because I feel it’s justified. They hurt me. I was angry. I responded.
It’s easy to think that, if we feel something strong enough, we have to act on it. I was overwhelmed so I didn’t finish what I said I would. I was scared so I didn’t say what I was actually feeling. I was hurt so I gave him the silent treatment. I was angry so I snapped at her. The thing is, we do have a choice. Our reactions to things are choices that we actively make. Even when we don’t do anything in response to a situation, we are choosing not to act. Our reactions are our responsibility.
I have a huge fear of other people thinking badly about me. It is the motivating factor behind many of my choices. Just the other night my husband and I were talking about my blogging. He told me that he worried how I would respond to negative feedback that I could receive if my blog reaches a wide audience. I’m not known for having thick skin. One bad opinion of me and I feel devastated.
The battle to not be controlled by emotions is one that I see most women fighting. We need to remind ourselves that, just because you feel something, doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Let me say that again: just because you feel a certain emotion doesn’t mean that you are obligated to act on that emotion. You can say no. In fact, you probably should say no more often. Here are six steps you can take to help you say “no” to your feelings and “yes” to God’s truth:
- Pray. This is key. This is the most important part. We have to go to God first if we want our hearts to be changed. If we’re not talking to God, how can He help us grow? Fight for regular time with God each day. Put up post-it notes to remind you to pray about this. Add it to your prayer cards or prayer journal. Put a reminder in your phone. Pray, pray, and then pray some more.
- Memorize Scripture. God’s word is alive and active. It is God’s truth given to us. Memorizing scripture is such a useful tool because it gives us something to redirect our minds to when we have a strong reaction to something and we are trying to sort through how we should respond. There have been many times that a verse that I memorized popped into my head at a very timely moment and prevented me from doing something I would later regret.
- Think about your reactions. When we react to a situation, we are revealing what is already in our heart. If we take the time to analyze why we reacted the way that we did, we can get to the root of whatever sin area is taking hold of us. This involves some deeper thought and prayer. It is helpful for many people to journal about things or talk through feelings with others. You may even want to seek the guidance of a professional counselor for help working through deeper heart issues.
- Focus on what is true about you. Many negative reactions that we have are a result of us believing something that isn’t true. If we regularly meditate on scripture that tells us how God views us, we will be able to fight these lies. This point ties in with the first and second point. Talk to God about what lies you’re believing and memorize verses that talk about your identity now that you are in Christ.
- Talk to others. Sometimes it’s hard to get outside of our own head. When we voice our thoughts and feelings to others we are able to hear God speaking through them. Often our friends are able to view situations with more clarity than we can, especially if they are also actively trying to follow God. They can show us grace and truth and help us see more clearly the path God is asking us to take.
- Practice saying no. Just because you have a feeling doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Just because you have a thought about someone doesn’t mean it’s true. Learn to take your thoughts captive and take the action steps listed above before you act.
What about you? Do you often feel controlled by your emotions? How do you choose to say “yes” to God and “no” to negative feelings? Leave a comment and let me know!