Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Processing Emotions

Greetings to all of you!!!!
I hope and pray you are well.  I wanted to follow up with some ideas on processing emotion and dealing with what we are feeling. 
For those who have not heard my talk I will repeat that it is important to be mindful of what we are feeling.  And it is ok to feel what we feel. We have been created with these complex emotions and we are facing a time when we:
1)    Will be feeling things we may not have felt before.  We have not faced a global pandemic to this caliber and expectation.  We have not been isolated from society for so long or had our entertainment sector shut down.  This is a whole new emotional world for us, and it is prolonged.  We will experience this for a while.  This will crate new feelings in us, or it will rekindle very old ones. We should be prepared to feel things we have not faced before.
2)    Have very few distractions.  We have surrounded ourselves with many distractions, such as sports, entertainment, 24 hour shopping, other social interactions.  These by themselves are not a negative, but they have for too long allowed us to gloss over, hide from, or ignore what we are feeling.  They have drawn energy away from the deep mining of our emotions and our relationships.  Now with those distractions gone we face these emotions, feelings, thoughts in a new and vibrant way.  They are there in front of us.  We have to work much harder to find ways around them, when in reality we should face them.
It is okay to feel what you are feeling.  There is nothing wrong with you and there is no reason to shame yourself for what you feel.  The key is what do you do with what you are feeling.

-Acknowledge your feeling.  Acknowledge the feeling you are having.  Give it a name and allow it to exist.  When we can identify something, we can take some control over it.  Put a name to the feeling you are having.  And be settled with the feeling.  Resist the urge to push it away or ignore it.  It is there so let it be.  Let it flow through your as water through a filter.  It may be slow but that is Okay.  Let the feeling be part of who you are.

-Realize that it won’t last forever.  The feeling you are having will not last forever.  It will pass in time.  You all have experience with feelings passing.  That is how we live our lives, with a mix of feelings that come and go.  Every day we experience joy, sadness, hope, peace, unease.  It is part of the daily journey of life.  And in the daily journey those feelings come and go, they flow in and out.  Some reside longer than others, and require more attention, but they fade or are replaced with other feelings.  These feelings are no different, they will not last forever.  And they will come back, they will flow in and out. 

-Accept that there is nothing wrong with how you feel.  Our feelings are based on impulses from our brain formed over years and years of repeated experience, or the complete lack of experience.  They are not meant to be judged positive of negative.  They are how you feel.  The is no reason to place judgment or shame on them.  

-There is no need to dwell in them.  We have these feelings and they ebb and flow.  The come and go as we alter our focus.  That is the way it should be.  Yet the desire to draw them back or hold on to feelings can be strong.  Let them flow through you.  The joys and the sorrows.  It is okay to experience joy in this time.  As well it is okay to experience sorrow in this time.  We are not required to dwell in any one specific emotional category, even if others are choosing to remain there.  We get to choose where we will dwell emotionally. 

-Some things that can help:
Journaling: The process of writing down your thoughts and feelings.  There really is no right or wrong way to journal.  Journaling can be done in narrative form, telling a story.  Thought journaling, which is writing out thoughts in sentence or paragraph form.  Or just simple words to express how you feel or what you think.  Putting things down on paper can help to realize them.  Also it can give you a frame of reference to examine if you have felt or through that before.

Deep questioning: This is the process of mining the feeling or thought.  Why am I thinking this way?  What is driving my feeling around this or at this time?  What is going on inside me or around me?  Is it physical: over tired, hungry, thirsty, caffeine deprived, lack of sun light?  Is it emotional:  Fear, anxiety, worry, disconnection?  Spending time questioning the emotion, asking those deep questions.  Does this have to do with my past or future?

Light Therapy:  Getting outside in the sun light.  Taking in the light and warmth.  Receiving a does of vitamin D.  It is proven that people respond better and feel better when they get a good dose of sunlight.  It helps physically and mentally.

Exercise:  Moving is very important.  Taking a walk around the block, going up and down stairs, anything to get your body moving.  It does not have to be an intense workout, just move. 

Talking to someone:  Communication is a big part of our identity.  We are social creatures, so we need to communicate with others.  Talking to someone can change how we feel.  It does not have to be a “Therapy session” though those are not bad, but a simple conversation about life, dinner menu, favorite TV show.  Anything to draw one into the realm of communication and connection to another person’ existence. 

Focused breathing:  Take a moment to focus on your breathing.  Take a few deep breaths in and out.  Inhale for a 3 count, hold for a 3 count, exhale for a 3 count.  By focusing on your breathing, you make your mind work on something else.  This will allow what your feeling to flow through you more the get stuck in you. 

Meditation:  Set aside a few minutes of quiet time to free your mind This can be done in conjunction with the focused breathing.

Pets:  Studies have shown that spending time with a pet, can lower anxiety and can increase mood.  If you have pets spend time with them.

Disconnect:  It is important to get information.  It is also important to disconnect and let you brain process the information, placing it in levels of importance.  Making sure you have plenty of time for your brain to chew through and deal with what you put in will help to regulate emotion.  It is okay to leave social media for a span of time.  It is okay to turn off the news or the opinion shows.  It is okay to listen to music or dwell in silence.  Disconnecting and giving our brain time to process. 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Guidance on prayer


As I mentioned in the sermon about praying together, I have put this together as a jumping off point. 

The following is a simple six step process for prayer.

1)    Identify the one you are addressing.  (Heavenly Father, Holy God, Almighty God, Gracious God.)
2)    Give thanks.  It is important to come before God in thanks for what we do have. (We thank you for this day, or I thank you for my family…)
3)    Identify a need or petition.  (Protect us in this time, heal my friend, take away my anxiety.)
4)    Request intervention.  (Be with them, heal them, etc..)
5)    Speak the name of the one through whom you pray.  In the name of Jesus..
6)    Amen ( I agree, this is true)

Dear heavenly Father.  Thank you for this day and the ability to wake in peace.  Thank you for those who love me and the resources I have in this time.  We pray for those whoa re struggling right now with fear or uncertainty.  Be present with them and send your Spirit of love to them.  Help me to know what I am to do.  In Jesus name.  Amen

Gracious God.  I thank you for listening to me.  Hear my cries.  I am scared and frightened and alone.  I need reassurance that it will all be okay.  Speak to me in any way that I can hear to know that you are present and active in my life.  Through Jesus Christ.  Amen

A few things to remember:
-The is no required length of prayer.  It can be short, long or somewhere in between.
-Prayer does not have to be perfect.  You can stumble and stop and start and go back.  God     is very patient.
-Prayer is an outpouring of where you are and what is going on.   
-God wants us to pray, to speak and listen
-The more you pray the better you will be at it.