7 Relationship Sins 07 | Stuffing

Emotions start wars. Although they are invisible, weightless, and volumeless, they are nonetheless very real and very powerful. To stuff them is really to engage in a futility, for they will come out somehow.

We spend much time these days talking about emotional regulation, controlling our thought lives and being rational, reasonable human beings. And this is well and good. Allowing our emotions to drive our choices can harm us psychologically, relationally and even physically—as health problems have been correlated with labile emotional states. But there’s a tendency in human nature to go to extremes. We might reject emotionalism and end up stuffing our emotions. See, emotions are like children. We might not let them drive, but we do attune to them, listen to them, and gather valid information from them. And ultimately, we want to learn to express them.

Replace stuffing with appropriate emotional expression. One if the most important sentences you can learn is “I feel _____.” Admitting the way you feel to yourself and to people you can trust, can stop an emotional cascade in its tracks. Paradoxically, accepting emotion is the first step of changing it. Admitting feelings puts us in a position where we take responsibility for what we feel. Apart from that responsibility-taking, we will likely try to shift the responsibility to someone else, accusing and attacking them, and thus harming the relationship.

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Jennifer Jill Schwirzer LPC

In 1999 Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from Atlantic Union College. She is the founder of Michael Ministries, a music/speaking/writing ministry. She has produced six CDs of her own music and given concerts in the United States, Canada, Africa, South America, and Europe. Previous books include Testimony of a Seeker, A Most Precious Message, and I Want It All. Jennifer and husband, Michael, have been married for more than 20 years and have two children, Alison and Kimberly.

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