Labeling Our Emotions

A sound mind makes for a robust body, but runaway emotions corrode the bones

Proverbs 14:30 (The Message)

“I’m not angry, I’m just frustrated”. I hear that a lot, and I understand where that thinking comes from. Many of my clients do not want to say that they are feeling angry. There is nothing wrong with owning that we have anger, but somehow, we want to minimize that. Calling our anger “frustration” is a way to call anger another name.

I think the formula looks like this: Frustration = Anger + Sadness + Disappointment. The disappointment somewhat dampens the sense of anger, in that our expectations have not been met. We don’t feel that we have the right to be angry just because our expectations have been dashed. We have a mixture of feelings which we label frustration.

I am not saying that this is inaccurate. The label of frustration seems to be a reasonable definition of the feeling. I delve into this discussion so that we can clearly, honestly, and accurately label our emotions. Self-awareness of our emotions, and willingness to own them, is a very healthy practice. Sometimes, I ask my clients to keep a “feeling log” of those emotions so that we can really look into exactly what emotions they are experiencing at the moment.

It is a good practice. On all levels, the truth sets us free. So, as we start the year, maybe consider keeping track of your emotions, and the triggers for them. It is helpful to be aware of what is really happening with us so that we can own our emotions, and make sure that we are not blaming others for the things that we are responsible for.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the freedom and the experience of our emotions. Help us to own them and manage them for our good and your glory, Amen.

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