The Happiest Lives Podcast

E25: Engage: Your Emotions Are An Invitation

October 20, 2023 Jill M. Lillard, MA LPC Season 2023 Episode 25
The Happiest Lives Podcast
E25: Engage: Your Emotions Are An Invitation
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Today we discuss  step 3 of The Heart Scan Process: ENGAGE.  Are your emotions ruling your life or shaping your relationship with God?  Take a step back as we explore  the profound connection between our feelings and our faith.  We unravel how our emotions act as an invitation to foster a deeper understanding of ourselves and fortify our bond with our Creator. 

I introduce the Four P’s for navigating emotions, a roadmap to deciphering and dealing with our feelings. We discuss how panic often clouds our judgment and how taking a pause helps us accept and understand the emotion. We shed light on how prayer and praise can be potent weapons to combat anxiety and bring an oasis of peace. 

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Speaker 1:

You are listening to the Happiest Lives Podcast with Jill Lillard, episode number 25. Welcome to the Happiest Lives Podcast, where you'll learn to think better, feel better and become the woman God says you already are. Here's your host, jill Lillard. Welcome back to the Happiest Lives Podcast and the HeartScan series. Today we are going to discuss the third part of the HeartScan process engage. I have a subtitle. This your Emotions Are an Invitation. Have you ever thought about that? Emotions invite you to look at your heart and engage with the heart of God. Your feelings are calling for a response. They are there to be experienced, and today I'm going to show you why this is true and how to accept the invitation. To review. In the first week we learned step one of heart scanning how to expose a problem. In this part of heart scanning is where we ask the Lord to search our hearts as we willingly turn on the lights to see what we might be missing. You can use the self-coaching model to help you organize your problems and focus on one thought at a time. To do a model. I taught you to separate the facts from your thoughts, then to identify the feeling a thought generates and the actions you take when you're having that feeling. You will then see that the result created is not due to the circumstance but because of your thoughts about the situation. This is a really fun and interesting way to expose the problem and understand the real reason you're getting the results you are. The next step is renew. Here we ask what else is possible. So first we want to assess if our thoughts are serving us. We're going to look at the result we're getting when we think that, and if that thought is not serving us, then we are going to consider what result would we like to experience instead. Now, this is our result. We can't put a result that is created for somebody else because that would be getting into their model. So, hopefully, as a believer, you, preemptively, are always renewing your mind each day as you intentionally read God's word, and as you do you're planting seeds that are going to take root in your heart. This ongoing commitment and willingness positions us for perpetual renewal and it provides thoughts that the Holy Spirit can speak to us when we need those truths. In this part of heart scanning, you can create a new intentional model to replace your unintentional model by going down to the results line and reverse engineering a new thought If you don't know what I'm talking about or you aren't sure how to do a model, you can go back and listen to the previous two podcasts or, better yet, you can join me. You should join me at my favorite week of the whole year Heart Scan Week. It is the last week in October. It's only $27 and you are going to get daily coaching access to me as we take this work and we're going to apply it to real problems. We're going to do some actual models. We're going to expose, renew, engage and press on. I'm going to show you how we do that with things that are going on in your life, so you can come and get coached, or you can just come and watch others get coached, which is super powerful. It's going to be amazing. And so you can sign up at myhappyfaultcom and, if you're listening to this podcast after the fact, I do it again every year and you can still learn more about the heart scan and get coaching in my other coaching program, clarity and Courage, where we are going to apply this work all year long. So this brings us to the third stage of the heart scan, which is engage. In this phase, I encourage you to experience your emotions coming to the Lord as you are. When we receive negative emotions as an invitation to pause and connect intimately, we can draw near to God with our whole hearts, experiencing him as our comforter, corrector and the lifter of our heads. Sometimes we check out and disconnect emotionally by filling ourselves with substances cookies, cakes, alcohol, drugs or activities that are going to quiet that vibration that we feel inside of us. In other times, we may try and power our way to a new thought by resisting and dismissing the unwanted emotion. So neither of these strategies are going to work for the long term, as you will end up experiencing a net negative consequence when you're buffering your emotions, when you're resisting them and you're not willing to fill them. When you try to power your way to a new thought, like you're trying to run out of your emotions, you're going to find it possible to sustain that. As a young adult and a newly licensed therapist, I remember trying to figure out the role of emotions in my life, for myself and for my clients. I wasn't sure what it meant to feel an emotion without indulging it, and yet I knew that thought swapping and dismissing and suppressing my emotions wasn't working either. I knew when others minimized or tried to talk me out of my feelings. I only wanted to hold on to them more. In my research, interactions, observations with clients and personal experiences, I discovered that being willing to feel emotions is essential to being human. Being emotionally attuned contributes to our well-being, personal growth and meaningful connections. The alternative to accepting emotions is to simply ignore them. And when we dismiss our feelings, when we ignore them, pretend they're not there, when we try to push them down, we end up doing really that same thing with other people's feelings and we miss out on opportunities for intimate connections. As we disconnect, we may even mute the voice of the Holy Spirit, disconnecting from what's happening inside us. We tend to focus on getting the actions right. We clean the outside of the dish, but we ignore what's going on in our heart. Emotions are a natural part of being human and acknowledging them allows us to live authentically. When we receive emotion as an invitation to engage, we develop a deeper understanding of who God is, who we are and who other people are. So if you're white-knuckling your way to a new thought, if you're unwilling to feel an emotion, you will find that you get stuck in that unintentional model. This is because we cannot outrun ourselves. We cannot outrun our feelings. Eventually they catch up, eventually they will be heard. It's unsustainable to create a new result by sheer willpower, as our willpower eventually will run out. So emotions often are carrying a message that guide us toward addressing unresolved issues and finding closure. Allowing ourselves to feel sadness, anger, grief and other challenging emotions is going to provide an opportunity for healing and, because our thoughts create feelings, acknowledging them helps us identify what is happening in our minds. Empathy is built on recognizing and resonating with the emotions of other people, so sharing emotions with others is going to foster empathy, compassion and understanding. We create authentic connections and build stronger relationships when we express our feelings openly. Thank you. Emotions can be a wellspring of creativity, an artistic expression. Many artists, writers, musicians, different creators out there will draw inspiration from their own emotions and they produce powerful and evocative works that so many of us enjoy. Tuning into my emotions leads me to moments of introspection, prayer, meditation and a more profound connection with the Holy Spirit. Coming to God as I am, I leave changed, which inspires secondary feelings of awe, gratitude and reverence, because our mind, emotions and body are interconnected. Suppressing emotions can lead to stress, tension and even physical health issues. However, when we allow ourselves to feel and express feelings that will contribute to an overall better health. Emotions are part of the human experience and in fact they are part of a God experience. We are made in God's image and as we study scripture, we can see that God himself expresses emotion. There are numerous instances in the Bible demonstrating God having a range of feelings such as love, compassion, anger, grief and joy. In the New Testament there are several instances where Jesus is depicted as experiencing and expressing emotions. One of the most well-known instances is when he weeps at the death of his friend Lazarus, and in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 3, verse 1 through 6, there's a story where Jesus becomes angry at the hardness of heart exhibited by religious leaders when they start to challenge him about healing on the Sabbath. Throughout the Gospels, there are numerous instances where Jesus shows compassion and love towards people. For example, matthew 936 says when he saw the crowds he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. This highlights his empathy for those who are suffering. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26, verse 36 through 39, there is a poignant moment when Jesus expresses a deep distress and sorrow in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his arrest and crucifixion Quote. Then he said to them my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed my father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. In Matthew 2746, we read that Jesus felt forsaken as he hung on the cross and cried out to his father my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? These are just a few examples, but they illustrate that the New Testament portrays Jesus as a complex figure who experiences various human emotions, including sorrow, anger, compassion and distress, even though he was God. So if Christ felt this way, then it is not unspiritual for us to feel these things. So the next thing I want to address is how do you feel Now? I don't mean how you feel right now, though I think that is an excellent question to ask yourself. I mean, how do you experience emotions? What is an effective and productive way to engage with a feeling Inside the happiest lives? We devised the four Ps to approach feelings. They are panic, pause, pray and praise, often when we even slightly notice an unwanted emotion, we panic about it. Our instinct is that we shouldn't feel that way. So whether you try to silence the emotion by talking bad about someone else, going on a shopping spree, drinking a bottle of wine, eating a pint of ice cream, checking out for hours on social media or Netflix, or white-knuckling your way to a new thought, you want to be willing to become aware of that resistance, that buffering behavior, so that you're noticing it, so that you can hit pause. The only way we can hit pause is we have to be aware we want to stop the buffering. We want to sit still. We want to welcome the emotion, to come on in and have a seat. This is the pause. You never have to obey the feeling. I don't want you to indulge the feeling, but locking it out is equally harmful. Emotions can be quite skillful and crafty and if ignored, they will find a way to be heard, whether through tension in your body, headaches, nausea, or you unexpectedly lash out at a stranger. Keep this in mind Feelings are harmless. Feelings can't hurt you. Okay, they're harmless. It is your ongoing unconscious resisting and reacting. That's what gets you in trouble, not the feeling itself. Buffering a feeling may bring relief for a moment, but it creates a net negative consequence in the long haul. So, to pause a feeling, I personally like to set a timer for 10 minutes and then I find a place to sit down. So I notice maybe some tension in my body, or I am aware of a specific emotion that I'm feeling, or maybe I know a thought triggered me, and so as soon as I notice that, then I will intentionally go and sit down, or maybe I have a habit of being bored and I don't want to be bored, and so then I might go bake cookies or eat something to stop the boredom. Waste my time doing stupid things when I have things that I need to do, right, so that may be a time where I may just go. Okay, I'm just going to sit still here for 10 minutes and feel that boredom. Why do I not want to feel that boredom? I've even been known to stop dead in my tracks and lay on the floor as I created a dramatic and clear pause. Okay, that happened one time when I had such intense emotion and when I laid there on the floor and went through the process. I'm going to tell you about a feeling, the feeling and I didn't even have to stay there the whole 10 minutes. Really, within probably five or six minutes, that feeling had completely dissipated. It was so amazing, because that feeling was so intense I didn't think I could go on with my day, and so that was a pretty cool experience. So, as I pause the moment in my reaction to the feeling and just let the timer manage my time, I'll take some breaths and I will just try to be right there in the here and now. I am mentally staying in my body by observing what I'm physically feeling. I'm experiencing the motion, I'm tuning into the sensations. I may notice where the feeling is located is in my chest or my stomach. A lot of times I'll feel it in my throat. Some people might feel it more in their hands or their head. I notice that there's movement or if it's more of a heavy weight. I know one time I had an emotion and it just felt like a vortex in my chest, and that vortex kind of became smaller and smaller and then it kind of worked its way down my stomach and down my legs until it just eventually vanished. I notice if it feels tight or if it's more of a racing feeling. So try not to overthink anything but just observe your body, observe those internal sensations, and thoughts will offer themselves to you. You will have assessments about what you're doing right there in the moment. Your mind may want to go to the situation that upset you, so you don't have to fight off those thoughts. They are invited to, they get to be there. Just gently, let them drift almost like clouds above you, just let them kind of drift by and just when you notice that, bring your mind back to your body. Experiencing the feeling is very different than getting caught up in the thoughts about the events that cause the feelings. So allowing emotion isn't continuing to assess the situation or even trying to identify what you're upset about, whether it's boredom, anxiety, hurt or anger. You want to pause and watch yourself having the feeling as you sit there. Pretend you're describing the sensations to a doctor, so you're tuning into what actually is happening in your body and maybe trying to put words to it to describe it. You will notice that there is going to be movement with the feeling. You're going to notice it starts to decrease in intensity and eventually it's going to completely dissipate. As it works, it's way through. So feel free to stay longer if you're still processing the feeling. When the timer goes off, you want to give yourself time to let the feeling move through, and you don't even have to use a timer. This is just a little hack that helps me be present in the moment and not concern myself with the time. So we notice the panic or resistance to the feeling and then we pause. The third P is pray. Philippians 4-6-7,. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with Thanksgiving, present your request to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Notice this prayer starts with anxiety when we feel anxious. We don't want to be anxious. As soon as we notice we're having a thought that causes anxiety, or as soon as we notice the feeling of anxiety, or as soon as we notice that we're acting out of our anxiety, we hit pause. That awareness becomes the cue to pause and get still in our spirit. This passage directs us to present our request to God in all our circumstances, all our situations, and we do so with praise and thanksgiving. The result this promises us is that we will experience the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Jesus will guard our hearts and our minds In his compassion and goodness. God shows us a spiritually healthy way to relate to him and express our feelings, no matter what we feel. We find this in the Psalms. It is a beautiful template for navigating emotion. As we read the book, we are witnessing what is going on in the hearts of people who walk with the Lord and face various emotions. God is giving us permission to make complaints. He even gives us the words to do so, as the Psalms comes to God as he is. If you struggle to find the words to express your feelings, you can find them in the Psalms. This book reminds us that God wants our hearts and he wants our whole self. He is a relational God. He uses this emotional part of ourselves as a portal to him. Our feelings are an invitation to pause and experience his presence. And he doesn't just want my heart. His heart is with me. Use the Psalms to enter into God's presence and talk to God about your longings, fears and pain. Our emotions are not the final word. We aren't parking there. They are a place we pass through. As we read the Psalms, we see that they descend sometimes into those depths of despair, but they are followed by an ascent, that focuses on God's presence, goodness and faithfulness and that brings us to the fourth and final P phrase. The Bible speaks of spiritual warfare, where believers battle against the spiritual forces of darkness. Ephesians 612 says for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil and the heavenly realms. Praise can be seen as a weapon in this battle, because it shifts our focus off of ourselves and the challenges we face onto the greatness and power of God. By praising God amid difficulties, we declare our trust in His sovereignty and authority over every situation. Praise can lift our spirits and combat discouragement. In Psalms 4211, the Psalms says why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. In the Psalms, he is speaking to His very soul, instructing it what to do. Praising God in difficult times can help dispel hopelessness and renew our hope and strength. Praise can change the spiritual atmosphere around us. In 2 Chronicles 20-22, one of my favorite stories you should go read the whole story, but Jehoshaphat's victory illustrates this. As they begin to sing and praise. The Lord set ambushes against the men of Amon and Moab and Mount Seer who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. Praise can release the presence and power of God, leading to breakthroughs in seemingly impossible situations. Praise directs our attention to the truth of who God is and what he has done. When we praise God for his character, faithfulness and past victories, we are strengthening our faith. We're aligning ourselves with his perspective, and this is helping us overcome doubt and fear. In Psalms 22-3, it says Yet you are holy and thrown on the praises of Israel. Praise invites the presence of God into our life and situations. When we magnify God through praise, we allow his power and glory to manifest. Praise is closely connected to gratitude. When we cultivate a heart of thanksgiving and praise, we become more content and less focused on the negatives, a mindset shift that can significantly impact our overall well-being. It's important to note that praise isn't just about uttering words. It's about the condition of the heart. Genuine praise comes from a sincere and surrendered heart that acknowledges God's greatness regardless of our circumstances. When I'm moving from where I am to where I want to be, it's not a quick check off list. Do this thing and then you're done. Follow these 12 steps and then you get this result. Now, sometimes I can have an unintentional model and I can create a new intentional model identifying a new belief, and it seems like that new model just takes form, that it's quick for me to believe it and I can take those actions and get that new result. But a lot of the time I find that it is more of a process where I'm holding space for my unintentional model even as I move into the new, that I have to be willing to feel that feeling and connect to the Lord, connect to the Holy Spirit, in the process of my change, in growth. In this space between the two models, I find that the Lord is binding my heart to His. I call this the Sea of Suffering, which is also known as the Sea of Surrender, and I'll talk a little bit more about that next week on Next Week's Podcast. I am so grateful that the Lord binds my heart to His. I'm thankful that he turns my suffering into surrender. More than a writing at my desire destination is the gift of knowing God, knowing His heart and Him wanting my heart, knowing he wants my heart. I'm so thankful when I cry to the Lord for help that he hears my prayer as I turn toward Jesus and wait on Him or maybe he's actually waiting on me. It may feel like nothing is happening, but don't be fooled the most important work of our hearts being knitted to His is taking place as we willfully and continually turn toward Him. When I feel weak, I'm being made strong. This is the part of the process where I engage. Thank you all for joining me today. I hope to meet you in the HeartScan workshop. I would love to put some faces with you guys. I would love to talk to you. It starts on Monday, monday the 23rd, and it's going to go all week over Zoom. We're also going to have a private Slack group. You can sign up at myhappyvaultcom. There will be call replays to those who sign up. It's going to be an epic week. It's only $27 for a ton of support. I can't wait to see you guys there.

Engaging With Your Emotions
The Four Ps for Approaching Feelings
The Sea of Suffering and Surrender