Dealing with strong emotions


Photo courtesy of Pamela Logan.

God created us in His image. This image includes our emotions and desires. Emotions are a part of our human experience, a gift from God. Emotions are an essential aspect of being human.  Some emotions are pleasant and welcome: happiness, joy, contentment, while others hit us like waves on the rocks: grief, anger, or shame.

The intimacy anorexic has learned to suppress his emotions, especially strong or extreme emotions, in order to avoid appearing weak, vulnerable, or foolish. For an unhealthy individual or an intimacy anorexic, how did we react when experiencing a strong emotion such as anger, grief, or fear? In the old way (the pattern of this world), we suppressed our emotions, stuffed them, and did not validate them. In response of these pent up emotions, we eventually acted out in wrong behavior, hurting ourselves and pushing away those closest to us.

We avoided acknowledging and resolving our emotions.

What is an honest, healthy way to deal with strong emotions?  First, one must step back, recognize and identify the emotion. For example, “today I feel scared.” Next we have to rationally explore what lies under that emotion. We must ask: “What is causing this emotion? What unmet need is contributing to this emotion?” It may take time to honestly dig deeper underneath the surface of our apparent emotion.  This step is difficult, but to truly heal from emotional dysfunction, one must do the challenging work of identifying one’s unmet needs.   This process is the “renewing of the mind” that Paul urges.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will.     Romans 12:1-2

When you realize that you feel out of control, your unmet need may be more order and control in you life. Now you must dig even further. You must identify the lies you are believing, such as “the future is uncertain, dangerous things await around the corner”. Then, with each lie, you must counter it with truth. God’s Word is TRUTH. God loves you. He holds your future in His hands. He will never leave you or forsake you.

This is the renewing of the mind that brings transformation in our lives. When faced with strong emotions, the intimacy anorexic doesn’t know how to handle the emotion and lacks sufficient tools to do so.  Eventually these emotions become overwhelming, and thus the intimacy anorexic must act out to “self-medicate” the emotion (this is the root of addictive behavior). He did not recognize the unmet need and seek to find a safe, healthy way to meet that need. When faced with a strong emotion, even to the point of suffering, a thoughtful, transformed man will recognize his need, call on God’s truth in the situation, and chose to meet his need through a right, healthy action.

Those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do what is right.      I Peter 4:19

Through this mental and emotional discipline, we test and approve God’s will, and draw closer to Him. We begin to understand how He created us in His image. We take action that offer our bodies as holy sacrifices to God (through righteous acts rather than selfish sins). Our emotions become something to embrace as a precious gift from God rather than some evil to avoid and suppress.

What do you think? Do you know someone who struggles to acknowledge and deal with their strong emotions?  Take action today to help them see the TRUTH in their situation!

Should I admit I have a problem?


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9 Admitting our faults, flaws, and wrong behavior is a difficult thing. As men, we want to be seen in a good light. We want to be perceived as strong. We […]

Continue reading...

Weak and selfish

weak and selfish

I was listening to a friend in recovery discussing what he had recently learned and one of his phrases caught my attention. He described his past behavior as “weak and selfish.” I jotted it down and meditated on that phrase.  It is poignant. “Weak and selfish” aptly characterizes men living in addiction. An addict is weak, not […]

Continue reading...

Our thoughts

our thoughts

Recently I was watching an old science fiction television show. During the episode, the intrepid crew of our technologically advanced space ship was visiting an alien planet. During the visit with this alien civilization, one of the crew members was arrested for having “evil thoughts”. This alien species had laws not only against evil behavior […]

Continue reading...



Last week I introduced the concept of intimacy anorexia. To follow up on that subject, this week I will discuss shame.  Many intimacy anorexics and those recovering from addiction unnecessarily suffer with immense shame. I have known many men who have come to realize their wrongful ways and are  overwhelmed with the burden of shame […]

Continue reading...

Intimacy anorexia


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.    Genesis 1:27 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of […]

Continue reading...

Itching ears

itching ears

“Itching ears” – whenever I read that expression in Scriptures it piques my curiosity. It is an interesting metaphor. When our physical ears itch, we have an immediate, and almost instinctive desire to reach up and scratch that itch. Itching ears quickly draw our attention, yet rarely is an itching ear a serious health crisis. This […]

Continue reading...

White as snow


It is a cold, crisp morning here in Colorado. The temperature has dropped over night, and a very pretty, velvety layer of powdered snow lies across the land. The sun shines, which illuminates the whole mountainside making everything twinkle with beauty. In this setting, I reflected on the concept of forgiveness and being forgiving, a […]

Continue reading...

Taking offense


While driving down the highway in the right lane with several cars around me, all traveling the posted speed limit, a pick-up truck is seen to my right trying to merge from an on-ramp. There is nothing that I can do safely to help him. Eventually he speeds up and (unsafely) cuts in front of […]

Continue reading...



When I was working through the Twelve Step program, one of the lessons I accomplished required me to list and analyze my character flaws. One that I identified (amongst many others) was what I termed as “mediocrity”. I felt that I did not always strive for the best or give a task my 100% best effort. […]

Continue reading...