Only Negative Responses
I’ve been thinking about emotions lately. How we’re quick to call some good (positive) and others bad (negative). I’ve done my best to keep the “negative” emotions out of my life. Like hate, rage, sadness or depression. Aren’t these the bad emotions we shouldn’t have? And so I pursue the “good” emotions of love, peace and contentment. But they don’t come without a fight.
Without a resolution of the less popular emotions, I find I cannot respond authentically. My realisation: there are no negative emotions. Only negative responses. There will be times when you and I are called to love, or to hate, to feel anger or to express peace. Emotions (e=motion) mobilise us to action. It’s HOW we react that determines the outcome. An ancient biblical proverb says, “When you are angry, do not sin.” It’s guaranteed that you and I will feel anger. It’s in how I respond that makes my anger positive or negative. Here’s an example: We need to get angry about things that are wrong; about injustice, about someone abusing us or someone else, or even our own failings. When we are positively angry, we do something constructive about the problem. If we don’t get angry, we don’t do anything. If we do get angry, and decide to resolve the anger negatively e.g. blaming someone else, pretending the problem doesn’t exist, we bring the opposite of life – death – into our lives. And our heart is shaped by this.
So I’ve been digging deeper. I’ve been asking myself, “What determines how I respond to life?” I’m sure most people know this, but I need to be reminded. The answer: It’s my values. What I believe. What I hold as most important. Values sit deep inside of me, hardly speaking at all, until there’s a challenge, and I need to choose. I’ve realised that I don’t know all of my values. Values are very deep. Some are thoughts; some are convictions. Others, we’ve simply taken on. What I’ve learned from this recent season is that I can choose my values and know them. They help me navigate powerful emotions according to my conscience and my true self. This means I grow, mature and become a safe person. Know your values. Know your heart. Live your values. Become the person you’d like to know.