One of the sessions at our seminar on Mental Health and the Believer addressed the need to deal with emotional damage from our past in order to enjoy full mental health. Emotional pain needs to be identified and addressed properly through true biblical forgiveness in order to be released from it to move on to healing.
We also looked at the need to identify our learned self-protection and coping strategies that build walls around our soul to protect us from the pain of emotional damage. The problem with these walls is that they stifle proper emotional expression and end up damaging us further instead of protecting us as we had expected.
Emotions reflect what we really believe
They are a revelation of our deepest inner being, self-disclosure that leaves us vulnerable to rejection and further hurt BUT also make it possible to connect with others at the deepest of levels. The following three questions were the discussion questions for this session. Please feel free to add your comments to any or all of these questions.
What importance should we give to emotions in our discussion on Mental Health and the Believer?
Emotions play a very important role in our mental health. Sometimes Mental Health and Emotional Health are used interchangeably. Emotions are closely related to our deep inner perception of truth and reality and therefore can be of great help in leading us to the real inner cause of problems. Emotions are more than just “gauges”, they also are powerful motivators in the choices that we make. Joy gives energy while despair drains energy.
How can our fear of emotional expression add to the burden of those suffering from mental illness?
Often we don’t clearly understand what is causing our emotions, we only know what we are feeling and our feelings are very real. Feelings should not be judged or criticized. Stifling our feelings eventually leads to losing a degree of contact with our own inner reality. I believe we are often emotionally numb because we do not allow ourselves to express our emotions in a healthy way.
A refusal to express our emotions is a form of hypocrisy and an implicit statement that the inner person is not to be displayed to others. Caring for someone with a stomach disturbance sometimes means that we need to do some messy cleanup as part of our care. Emotional disturbance may also lead to some messy soulish discharge at times.
We need to be able to deal with this with the same non-judgmental attitude. (For the sake of all involved we do prefer that both of these situations be dealt with out of the public eye as much as possible!)
How could a greater expression of emotion be helpful?
We can all be so emotionally guarded that we have no idea what other people around us are dealing with in their lives. No one else is talking about their emotional struggles so it becomes part of our non-verbal agreement that it is not acceptable to do so. We need to demonstrate that it is acceptable to express our emotions.
I know of no other healthy way to get people to trust you with their deep inner reality. It is also important that we model a healthy expression of emotions. We can express our emotions in a way that drives people away or in a manner that draws them toward us.
These are only a few thoughts on a vast subject. Once more I pray that these questions and comments will lead you in some healthy personal meditation and dialogue with others.