Emotional Alignment vs. Emotional Control


August 4, 2011 by Heather Harris

One of my readers, Sam Kee, brought up a good point in response to my blog post, “Emotions Are Not Always Your Friends.”  In this post I discussed how it is important to control our emotions, so as not to let them get the best of us and cause unnecessary destruction in our lives and relationships.  However, Sam commented,

“…Instead of seeking to “control” your emotions, what if you “aligned” your emotions? Align them with/toward a higher purpose, like God’s will, for example…”

His comment completely changed my perspective.  Although we should seek to control our emotions and maintain a balance in our lives between emotion and logic, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can.  As humans, we will fail. We can’t expect to be able to completely control our naturally sinful selves.  So first and foremost, we should align ourselves with Christ-like attitudes and beliefs, so that our emotions, our thoughts, and our actions will then, consequently, fall in line behind them (hopefully).

For example, Christ had many outbursts of emotion, such as when he got angry with the money-changers in the temple (Matt. 21:12).  This was a  healthy, righteous burst of anger in alignment with whole-hearted commitment to God’s will.  God didn’t want money-changers in the church, so Christ got angry about it.  So should we align our thought processes and emotions with the things that God wants for us.

Does this mean that we should strive for a balance that stifles self-serving, manipulative emotions and lets loose emotions that mean to further the Kingdom of Christ? I would say no. All emotions still must be reined in. Even emotions with good intentions, if let run wild, will still cause destruction if we fail to keep control of them. This is also not to say that we should bottle up emotions that are self-indulgent. Instead, we should let them go.  They are not worth our time and energy, and will only lead us into destruction both personally and relationally.

But again, we are human, and because of this, we will fail in this area. We are emotional beings. So is God, and He understands that our sinful natures will sometimes cause something that was meant for good to go bad. He loves us for what we are, forgiving us of our sins when we ask it of him.  Aren’t we lucky to have an emotional, loving, and merciful God?


7 thoughts on “Emotional Alignment vs. Emotional Control

  1. sharonwhite64 says:

    You make a very good point. I think we should FEEL the emotion but chose not to act on the emotion. We should only act on it or respond to the thing that caused the emotion after the emotion has simmered down and isn’t as huge, but logic has had time to take a more active role. THEN we can/should respond. This is very difficult for some people, such as myself. I am learning this process still. As you pointed out, we are human and the learning process on some things comes with a large age curb. Some learn this early, some not so early.
    There is a difference between feeling the emotion and wallowing in it also. I think it’s good to feel it, experience it, think about it and respond as I said, but not to get caught in the feeling or experiencing stage. Those are the people that can’t let anything go.
    That’s what I’m thinkin’. :o)

  2. hrh413 says:

    I agree! It is healthy to feel our emotions and then use logic to discern what we should act on and what we shouldn’t. Good thoughts!

  3. So there I was at the discipleship summit for the district of the denomination I used to be in. The leader, Hal Perkins, called for 5 volunteers,had them come up to the stage and sat them around a table. (I’m only going to relate three of them here.)

    The first one Hal gives a crown and names him King Will. King Will represents our will. Seated to King Will’s immediate left is Reason. Reason represents our intellect. Reason unceasingly yaps in King Will’s ear. Always talking, reasoning all very logical. Reason wants King Will to do her bidding. To the left of Reason is her weird Siamese twin Feeling. Feeling represents our emotions. While Reason is incessantly talking into Kin Will’s ear Feeling is screaming his fool head off, at the top of his lungs, incessantly. Feeling wants to control King Will too.

    As a child of about 8 I decided I needed to lock Feeling away. I strove for apathy, in its strictest sense. Over the years I fairly achieved this. Kind of a barrier to relationship to not really have feelings let alone be in touch with them. So, there locked away on some inner dungeon my emotions lay in arrested development. Meanwhile Reason was exercised and got strong. I’m not saying that Feeling didn’t escape from time to time. And when he did it he was usually pretty angry, because he never learned how to express the true feelings as they should and needed to be expressed.

    It was at this discipleship summit that I realized that my taking refuge in Reason as a child actually crippled me. I effectively cut off about one third of me. I think that so called “normal” people (anyone actually ever met a normal person?) develop King Will learns to incorporate Reason and Feeling, get them aligned (yeah I like that) to do what King Will wants, rather than letting either Reason or Feeling take control. So, maybe the task before the vast majority of us abnormals is to get King Will to work with Reason and Feeling so that they are all on the same page and headed the same direction.

    And with God’s help……

    • hrh413 says:

      That’s a good analogy, and exactly what I was trying to say. Both emotion and reason need to be in alignment with a higher purpose in order to be controlled and balanced correctly. Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. maninacave says:

    It is not often I read something on a private blog that really makes me sit up and take notice. This did.

    Of course becoming Christ-like through sanctification is as much about our emotions as well as thought and actions. Repressed individuals like myself tend to forget that. I love controlling my emotion patting it down under my reason and logic, but perhaps the thought of aligning them ought to fly higher. If control can give way to repression, then I guess alignment can give way to Christlikeness. Mmm…. which one will I go for?

    BTW I know this is not totally right and is open to all sorts of critisism but a ‘WWJF’ might be a help.. (what would Jesus feel?).

    • hrh413 says:

      I agree. To be honest, the thought of aligning rather than controlling my emotions is an uncomfortable thought for me. It means I have to let go and give control to God, which is never easy. I am also a person who represses my emotions, and the thought of letting go of controlling who gets to see what I feel is scary. It makes me feel too open and vulnerable, but that’s what Christ wants us to be with the world: real. So instead of hiding away, I’m choosing to express my emotions in a healthy and Godly way.

      I like the acronym you came up with. In the same way that “WWJD” reminds us to keep our actions in line with Christ, it reminds us to keep our emotions in line with Christ as well. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I really like this post! Emotions truly is the barometer most of us measure our world with. To align them is giving up control like we may never have before. But, I gotta admit if we can get to that point it is so freeing. Like the woman who dances in the middle of the park because she is so inspired by the beauty of the trees and flowers and birds. I long for this. Thanks for sharing and I am excited you commented on my post so that I may know you are here.

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