One day I suddenly realized that it was not possible that EVERYONE in my life was against me. That was the day I started to get control over these crazy things we call chemically-induced emotions.
Whether it is from lack of sleep (the toddler years…followed by the teen years and menopause) or stress (all the time in between), there are days and even weeks when our body creates a false reality in our minds.
For reasons I don’t understand, I’ve recently been through a new wave of transient emotions. Some days, the negative parts of life seem unending, then the next day I’m full of purpose and hope. Which leads me to … “sometimes, emotions lie.” Just because I’m feeling something, doesn’t mean it is true.
How do you know if you are experiencing an emotion that needs to be figured out, or one that is just chemically-induced? Are all chemically-induced emotions to be ignored?
I’m not sure I have the answers, but I know a few things from years on the emotional yoyo of life. Let’s take the Foxworthy approach – You might have chemically-induced emotions if:
- Ripping someone limb-from-limb is suddenly a real possibility.
- Puppies and bubbles send you into euphoria, followed by sobbing.
- Your eyes suddenly pop open at 2am like a five year old on Christmas morning.
- That feeling of dread you get in action movies right before the plot climax? Yeah – four times a day with no provocation – it crawls right up your back and whispers creepily that something MUST be wrong – somewhere.
- Chocolate…and more chocolate…followed by ice cream.
So how can we limit the crazy times?
1. Eat right. Do an internet search – what foods cause your particular emotion (anger, anxiety and depression seem to be the main ones) – DON’T EAT THEM. For me, sugar and wheat seem to send me into a tailspin.
2. Exercise. Stretching helps move your body fluids around. Stretching with power poses will increase your ability to handle stress. Aerobic exercise helps your body release tension, and it will up your serotonin levels.
3. Smile. Your body can manipulate your brain chemicals – one of the best ways is to smile -whether you mean it or not. Smile for at least 2 minutes several times an hour the first day – it won’t be long before you aren’t faking it – you will actually want to smile. In a similar way, frowning, especially with furrowed eyebrows will add stress to your body and your mood.
4. Phone a friend. We were created to be in community, and when you are caught in a mental loop, find someone to call. They don’t even need to know why you called – just listen to them talk about their life. This will break the negative loop in your mind and help you focus on better things.
5. Pray. You’d think that praying should be first – and sometimes it is – but if you aren’t taking care of your body, you can still be caught in a negative loop of chemically-induced emotions. However, praying to listening instead of talk, praying in the Spirit, and praising all have positive effects on our moods. In fact, there are studies that show that what some call meditation (praying to listen and praying in the Spirit for the rest of us) will calm the amigdala, which is the anxiety center of the brain. God really is in charge, and if you spend time letting Him be in charge, you are letting go of stress and letting the negative loop unfurrow.
6. Forgive. Don’t carry around emotions you don’t have to. Your brain will thank you if you identify what you lost and let it go.
I wish I could say that we shouldn’t have the negative loop, but the truth is that we are human – we aren’t machines. Perfect doesn’t exist this side of heaven, and we are in bodies that are not eternal. It is important to remember that when Jesus said that He is going to prepare a place for us, He was letting us know that we don’t have to be defined by the negative here and now. We can be defined by our place in eternity. God is wild about you. He delights over you. Take a moment and dance with Him.