They’re lines I’ve heard many times in counseling sessions: “She’s too emotional” or “I’m just not an emotional person” or “guys just don’t have feelings.”
When it comes to emotions it can get pretty confusing sometimes. Often it can be difficult to even figure out what we’re feeling, and once we’ve figured it out, what’s the point? Does it really make any difference? Sometimes emotions just seem to get in the way.
As Steve Shores points out in Minding Your Emotions, some people seem to be all for feeling and expressing. “We’ve held our emotions in far too long,” they say. “We’d all be better off if people would stop being so buttoned up, and started expressing their feelings.” Others see emotions as unimportant. “Logic and reasoning are what is important,” they say. “Emotions just get in the way of logic, so ignore them.”
Perhaps there is room for a third view, one which sees emotions as neither less than or more than. God has made us with intellect, emotion, will, and imagination in equal parts and if we don’t really understand our emotions and the God-given role they play in our lives we will end up either running from them or being run by them.
As Christians, we live between the now that is unfulfilled and the not-yet that is full of hope and promise. We live with an ache, a yearning for heaven, and our emotions reveal this longing. If we give free reign to our emotions we end up living with a demand that refuses to wait for what we can’t have until heaven. And if we shut our emotions down we may live for the hope of the world to come, yet with a coldness that refuses to embrace both the joy and suffering that fill our world. Either way, there is a danger that we’ll end up going it alone, walking by ourselves on a journey that was meant to be shared.
I recall commenting to a friend once that it was difficult to feel close to him because he wouldn’t let me in, wouldn’t allow me to care for him, as I could have done if only he’d opened up about what was going on inside him. The sad thing is that it kept his wife and children away, too, and it was like a stiff-arm to God.
Psalm 73 is a good example of why it can be healthy for us, and ultimately for our relationship with God, to acknowledge our emotions and try to understand them. The Psalmist begins by saying, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those whose hearts are pure. But as for me, I almost lost my footing. My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone. For I envied the proud when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness. They seem to live such painless lives; their bodies are so healthy and strong. They don’t have troubles like other people; they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.” Later he says, “Does the Most High even know what’s happening? . . . Did I keep my heart pure for nothing? . . . I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain.”
Have you ever felt this way? I sure have. But the Psalm doesn’t end there. He goes on to say, “If I had really spoken this way to others, I would have been a traitor to your people. So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.” There in the fellowship of God he finally sees where the path of the wicked takes them, and he understands his own foolishness. And he ends by saying, “as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.” He ends up worshipping God yet that would not have happened if he hadn’t examined his emotions honestly in God’s presence and let them lead him more fully to him. Do you want to feel closer to God and others? Then give emotions their proper place, listen to what they’re trying to reveal to you about your God-given longings, and learn to share them with others.
But He's Only Playing!!
by Linda Manning Ramirez, RN, LPC-S, RPT-S
(from the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Newsletter, Summer 1999)
Parents, School officials, and teachers are often baffled when the counselor takes the child who has been acting out in class; aggressive towards other children and adults; unable to sit in his seat and follow directions, to the play room for counseling.
"How can you just allow him to play?" "Aren't you just rewarding him and reinforcing his "bad" behavior in class?" Teachers and parents are sometimes confused by this process called Play Therapy or counseling with toys. Adults expect children to be "talked to" and "straightened out" by a counselor talking to the child in order to "fix" the child or gain "control" over him. If this is your attitude about what needs to be done or if you have ever felt confused as to the wisdom of letting a child "just play" this article is for you.
How is play useful? How and why does it help children who are having emotional and behavioral difficulties? The question is often asked how play therapy can help when "all he's doing is playing"? Play is a natural process for children. Children do not have to be taught how to play. It is a child's way of expressing what is important to him and what is affecting him. The child's point of view of the world, himself, and others is communicated through the play in ways that verbal speech cannot facilitate. "Talking" is only one way to express ideas and feelings. And "Talk Therapy" is an adult realm where children are at a disadvantage.
Play utilizes metaphor, fantasy, and imagination to express feelings and ideas that are at the root of the child's behavior. The child communicates through his play in many ways that speech cannot. Play will put a child at ease and cut through their resistance to reveal themselves. Revealing our inner selves to others is risky and frightening because we may fear judgement and rejection. Through play a child can reveal his inner thoughts, feelings, including doubts, conflicts, etc. in a less threatening, less anxiety-producing manner. Play also is a way for a child to "experience" and therefore "learn" a new behavior. Numerous books have been written on how play is important and facilitates growth.
A counselor skilled in play therapy techniques assists the child to change by providing a psychologically safe environment for the child to express and master those areas of conflict which are the source of the child's problematic behaviors. Play is a language in itself and is not used to get the child to "talk". Adults feel better when a problem is "talked out" - that is, discussed, thought out, solutions decided upon and action taken. Children feel better and behave better when they "play it out".
Adults are "cognitive and verbal". Children are "playful and nonverbal".
The top predictors of women's marital happiness, in order of importance:
(Over the next several months we will highlight one of the seven top predictors)
Staying at home.
Wives who stay at home tend to be happier in their marriages than wives who work outside the home. This is particularly true for women who have children in the home. Women often find it difficult to juggle kids, a career, and a marriage all at the same time. In fact, the study finds that working women are less likely to spend quality time with their husbands. They are also more likely to report that the division of housework is unfair. So time pressures and role overload help to explain why working wives are typically less happy in their marriages.
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