How Do I Become Emotionally Aware?

emotionally aware
When understood and taken to God, emotions create an intimate relationship with God and friends like no other.

What stops us from being emotionally aware is not wanting to deal with what is inside and the uncertainty that comes with our emotions.

Will I feel better after talking about my emotions? Will I feel worse off than before and out of control? Will I feel shame or embarrassment?

Our hope is that these scriptures will help you to become emotionally aware so that you can help those in your life do the same.

“In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the LORD.

Isaiah 66:9 (NCV)

This scripture gives me comfort knowing that, despite the painful or negative emotions I may experience, God ultimately has a greater plan that involves taking care of me and others.

Before looking at how to get in touch with our emotions, let’s examine some of the “blocks” we use that stop us from becoming emotionally aware.

Emotional blocks

Busy-ness: “If I keep myself busy, I won’t have time to feel.”

I also saw that a person works hard and accomplishes a lot. But they do it only because they want what another person has. That doesn’t have any meaning either. It’s like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIrV

This scripture says that when our hard work is for the wrong motive, it’s pointless, like chasing the wind. Similarly, rather than dealing with my emotions, I can believe the lie that “If I get a lot of stuff done, my work/accomplishments will make me feel better and give me a sense of peace on the inside.”

I stay busy so I don’t have to feel or face the reality of what I am feeling. I make the excuse that I don’t have time to feel. Being quarantined exposes how, even though I’m physically stuck in one place and have the “time”, I still stay busy to avoid what I’m actually feeling.

Reflection questions

  • Is your hard work motivated by a heart to serve God/others, or by a desire for self improvement and emotional avoidance? 
  • How do you busy yourself to avoid dealing with what is on the inside?

Deflection: “If I ignore it long enough, maybe it will go away.”

Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.

-Proverbs 14:13 NLT

This scripture says that laughter can cover up what we actually feel on the inside. And unfortunately, as time passes, the pain does not leave when we choose to deflect.

I am skilled at emotional deflection. Any hard or painful situation that I faced growing up I coped with by making a joke and making light of the situation. I saw myself as a happy-go-lucky kind of person.

When I studied the Bible, I saw how much my jokes were covering up a sad and angry heart.

Maybe you can’t relate to cracking a joke anytime something feels painful. We all have our ways we choose to deflect, divert or distract ourselves from facing and dealing with truth in our hearts.

Reflection questions

  • How do you deflect, divert or distract yourself or others from seeing and facing what’s really going on? 
  • What emotions are you deflecting?

Comfort Seeking: “I’d rather feel good than deal with what’s on the inside.”

[10] I gave myself everything my eyes wanted. There wasn’t any pleasure that I refused to give myself. I took delight in everything I did. And that was what I got for all my work.

[11] But then I looked over everything my hands had done. I saw what I had worked so hard to get. And nothing had any meaning. It was like chasing the wind. Nothing was gained on this earth.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIrV

This scripture describes the emptiness that comes with having everything we want and having no limit to the amount of pleasure we chase. Running to pleasure and numbing out makes our lives lack impact, and like the scripture describes, empty.

I am often unaware of my emotions because I run to anything that feels good, and I don’t identify what I am feeling. It often takes my wife noting how long I have been watching YouTube or me confessing my lust to realize that I am hardening to emotions I do not want to feel and talk about.

The hardest emotions for me to share are:

  1. Shame and embarrassment from guilty thoughts I have
  2. Pain and sadness caused by a situation, a friend in pain, or from seeing something that reminds me of a lost loved one
  3. Insecurity when I feel like I should have known better

Reflection questions

  • What ways do you seek comfort instead of vulnerability? 
  • What are your warning signs that you are checking out emotionally?

How to become emotionally aware

Slow down: make the time

There is a time to weep. And there’s a time to laugh. There is a time to be sad. And there’s a time to dance.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIrV

This scripture gives me comfort because God says there is a time for each one of our emotions. Growing up I thought I wasn’t allowed to have or share any negative emotions.

I’ve learned that it is as simple as giving myself the permission to feel – that having emotions is not a “bad” thing but rather something that can draw me closer to God and others. God wants to hear what we are feeling. Slow down and allow yourself the permission to feel.

Take action

  • Take a prayer walk or create a quiet space with God, free of distractions, where you can slow down and listen to God.

Admit your need: humility

As for me, since I am poor and needy, let the Lord keep me in his thoughts. You are my helper and my savior. O my God, do not delay.

Psalm 40:17 NLT

The psalmist in this scripture recognizes his need for God and that things are not in his control. Humility and asking God for help is a way to get in touch with our emotions.

The words “I need you” are sometimes the most vulnerable and hardest for me to say to God, my husband and friends. When I choose humility over pride, I am able to let down my walls.

When we no longer feel like we have to control and hold things together, we can be free to be ourselves and admit our weaknesses to God and others.

Take action

  • Pick a scripture to help you get in touch emotionally
  • Pray through a Psalm that reflects what you are going through

Ask for God’s help: pray

[26] And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

[27] And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 NLT

This scripture says that God already knows our hearts. This means he knows everything we are feeling.

Even when we do not know what we are feeling, God is able to understand our groans and sighs. It’s the simple act of praying and turning to God that helps us become emotionally aware.

Take action

  • Decide to pray through the areas of your life and relationships you feel the most about! (You can reference the emotions chart at the conclusion of this article for help too.)

Ask for others’ help: phone a friend

Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out. 

Proverbs 20:5 (NLT)

In my quest to learn how to deal with my emotions, I learned that friends are vital to becoming emotionally aware – not just any friends, but a friend who understands you and is willing to draw you out.

I have had countless interactions with my wife and friends where they could just look at me and know that I was stuffing down emotions I did not want to feel. Even though I can sometimes give those close to me a hard time, I appreciate them engaging me until I end up talking about everything I am feeling and holding nothing back.

Take action

  • Decide to call a friend who will help draw out your emotions.
  • Decide to be this kind of friend for someone else!

Decide to be honest: unload and unleash

Then I will go to God’s altar with nothing to hide. I will go to God, my rapture; I will sing praises to You and play my strings, unloading my cares, unleashing my joys, to You, God, my God.

Psalm 43:4 Voice

One of the greatest ways to become emotionally aware is to decide to be honest with God, completely honest about all you feel – the good, the bad and the ugly. Unload your cares and unleash your joys with God!

Another way to unleash is through music. This psalmist was expressing his emotions through music. Sometimes a song can help us get in touch with what we are feeling.

Finally, since I can often start off my prayers unaware of what I am actually feeling, another helpful tool to use is an emotions chart.

Take action

  • Make a playlist that helps you think about and express your emotions toward God.
  •  If you start to pray and are having trouble identifying what you’re feeling, just look down at the emotions chart below (or any other of your liking). Tell God which emotions you feel and why!
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