Summary: This week we turn the focus on understanding ourselves and gaining emotional awareness so that we may know God. Four competancies will be shared to help us become emotionally aware so that we might be emotionally healthy spiritually.

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Know Thyself

Psalm 55:1-5, 16-17

October 25, 2009

This week and next week we are going to look at several emotional health competencies. These are qualities that emotionally healthy people cultivate and display. These give us plenty of things to work because none of us have all of these down. These are things to work on and grow in.

The primary quality that provides the basic foundation for an emotionally healthy spirituality is emotional awareness.

Emotional Awareness

There are several basic competencies that then (practical characteristics) that comprise emotional awareness. The idea is that each of us need to know who we are and what is going on inside of us. If we don’t know this, then none of the other qualities an emotionally healthy spirituality matter. We therefore really need to “Know Thyself.”

Our biblical example and model comes from King David. King David is called a man after God’s own heart. Therefore David must have been in touch with his own heart and soul. Although later, he strayed we do find examples of his writings that show us that he really was in touch with what he was feeling. He was emotionally aware. Psalm 55 is one such example.

A mother went shopping for groceries and when she returned her husband asked how she paid for it all. “Plastic,” she replied.

Then she heard her six-year-old tell her baby brother, “Mom’s been recycling again.”

Psalm 55 was read earlier. Did you notice how in touch David was? What are some of the emotions that David describes and shares?

“I am distraught.” His enemies are angry at him. His heart is in anguish. He is afraid even horrified. But he is comforted by his relationship with God. He is in distress.

What are some other emotions that you can imagine that might go along with what he stated? This is a basic component of another emotionally healthy quality called empathy. It is the ability to understand and feel alongside of what someone else is feeling. If you are not emotionally aware yourself, then you won’t be able to determine what others are feeling. And that brings us to the first and most basic competency:

• Know what emotions you are feeling and why.

There are really two parts here. Knowing what you are feeling and the reason why you are feeling these things.

As far as knowing what you are feeling, this lies in being able to identify and name the emotions. For example, in the realm of anger there are several different variations including frustration, which is not quite as intense as anger, to rage to bitterness to hatred.

I have made up a list of emotions and there definitions. This is not totally comprehensive but it will help you identify what it is you are feeling. What are you feeling right now? Bored. Afraid. Intriqued. Excited. Most likely some of these and more.

This brings us to the why. The reasons why we feel certain things takes a lifetime of work and reflection. Why are you angry? Because he or she did such and such. That may have precipitated your anger but usually there are other deeply seated reasons why you are angry—often these have some kind of basis in fear.

Have you ever heard someone say, “He made me so angry!” Then another responds by saying, “No one makes you angry, you choose to be angry.” Well it really is a little bit of both. However, we choose how we respond.

I strongly urge you to explore the reasons why you respond and feel the way you do at various times. Many times these reasons have deep roots into our childhood. This brings us to the next idea that is closely related to this first one

• Realize how your emotions direct what you think, say, and do.

This is something that if you are serious about becoming emotionally healthy will do the rest of your life. It is a journey realizing why you are feeling what you’re feeling.

I’m angry and I know why because this person said that I was didn’t do my job right. But why are you angry? Why not another emotion? Maybe you are angry to cover the deeper guilt because they were right. Why weren’t sad that someone thought that about you? There are a multitude of possible emotions for any given situation. The key is to ask “why?” And keep asking why until you are satisfied.

I’ve found sometimes the true depths of why I have felt the way that I do sometimes doesn’t become apparent until much later. I thought I knew why but God reveals another perspective or I experience a similar situation in a different way or I experience similar emotion reactions in a completely different context.

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