Have you ever found yourself in an emotional funk? I know I have. How are we supposed to manage our emotions when we feel discouraged, like everyone around us is annoying and life feels untameable?
When we’re in an emotional funk like this we want practical ways to manage our emotions to work through our discouragement so we can stop feeling down in the dumps. Today, we’re covering three specific biblically based actions we can take when we want to get out of a funk.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- 2:42] Bible Verses for Comfort While in An Emotional Funk
- [8:10] You Can’t Pretend and Ignore The Emotional Funk If You Want To Heal
- [9:10] Goals As We Examine The Three Levels Of Getting Out Of A Funk
- [9:50] Helpful Resources If Managing Emotions Becomes Too Much
- [11:32] Emotions as “Check Engine Lights”
- [12:49] Stage One: Acceptance and Acknowledgement of The Emotional Funk
- [17:31] Stage Two: Comforting Ourselves, Offering Gentleness and Loving Care
- [25:47] Stage Three: Active Processing and Connecting With God For Healing
- [31:38] The Permission and Grace To Feel Your Feelings and Not Be Perfect
- [34:59] Final Tips on Working Through an Emotional Funk
[2:42] Alicia Shares Scriptures to Turn To When Managing Emotions
As we go into these different levels of getting out of an emotional funk, I want to share with you a few promises of God because I want you to understand what the Bible says about emotions and how God wants to walk with us as we manage life’s toughest emotions.
Here are a few encouraging scriptures:
Psalm 34:4-7 “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, he freed me from all of my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy. No shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation, I prayed, and the Lord listened. He saved me from all my troubles, for the angel of the Lord is a guard he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”
This scripture is a picture of us coming to God saying, “I am overwhelmed, I am depressed, I'm sad, I'm frustrated, I'm tired.” These are all the things we feel when we're stuck in an emotional funk, and often fear is a big part of it. We are afraid of this and afraid of that.
In this moment of transparency before the Lord, David is honestly sharing with God and letting God free him from the pain.
Psalm 34:17-18 “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all of their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
One of the most exciting things about God that speaks to the heart of his character is that over and over in Scripture, we see him going for those who have no vested interest in being able to help him. He goes to the people who are orphans; he goes to the people who have no power. He rescues those kinds of people, the people who need help.
That speaks volumes to me about the heart of God, his heart of love, his spirit of compassion, reaching us where we're at, and not having to have it all together to come to Him. And in this verse, we see he hears his people when they call him for help. He's close to us when we're brokenhearted and rescues us when our spirits are crushed. And that's a great way to describe this emotional funk. Isn't an emotional funk feeling like our spirits are crushed?
Psalm 9:9 “The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
As we process through the different levels of working through an emotional funk, there’s often a point where we need to be set apart and protected from what’s going on in order to work through what we're feeling.
This verse reminds us that he's a shelter for the oppressed. God is a shelter when we're feeling literally persecuted on the outside or if we're working through challenging things on the inside. He is a shelter for us to lean on during this emotional funk. Some verses say he's a place where we can go and be hidden as we work through this until the storm passes.
Psalm 37:39 “The Lord rescues the godly He is their fortress in times of trouble.”
Again, saying he's a place to go when things are complex and challenging. God is a welcome place. He's a welcome mat for us when we walk through these difficult emotional moments.
Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. He is there for us. When we are at our lowest, he walks with us through those valleys.”
Psalm 46:11 “The Lord of Heaven's Armies is here among us. The God of Israel is our fortress.”
I like this one because he is not only a place to be, a fortress to hide in, but he's the Lord of Heaven's army. So when we bring our discouragement and sadness to Him, we're not saying we’re coming to a meek God who can't do anything about the situation. We're talking to the one in control of all heaven and earth, who is in charge of heaven’s armies themselves. He's with us. And there's tremendous power in his presence as he sits with us.
And last, Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
He's doing the healing. He's bandaging our wounds. This is the God who's not afraid to be messy, who came down as a baby, lived among us as humans, experienced all that we experience in this life, died on the cross, and experienced the absolute most devastating way to be killed and tortured. He experienced that, and he understands pain. So he comes to us saying, “I want to be with you in this. I want to help you heal through this.”
These Bible verses about God’s loving character when we’re in pain are meant to set the stage for our conversation today. As we talk about the different stages of processing the emotional funk we're in, I want you to know that God will be with you and that His heart is to love you in the middle of the pain.
I believe these emotional funks are an invitation to know God more fully, to grow in Him more deeply, and to create different patterns of thought around how we view him and these situations. There's healing that's going to come from this that only He can bring.
[8:10] You Can’t Pretend and Ignore The Funk If You Want To Heal
Our goal as we look at these different levels, or these different steps, is not number one, to shut down the emotional funk. We're really good at telling ourselves to just “stop feeling like this”. Or “it's bad to feel like this”, or “it's wrong to feel like this”. We're not here to shut down the difficult feelings and tell them to be quiet and pretend they’re not there.
At the same time, our goal is not to live forever in this state and to let it overwhelm us so that we are lead exclusively by our emotions.
Instead we’re saying that God can offer us a sacred place, like a fortress, to safely work through what we're feeling, without pushing it down, without shaming ourselves for it and without letting it take over the logical truth that God wants us to live by. So it's a balanced look at emotions, and it's a balanced look at managing what we're feeling inside.
[9:10] Goals As We Examine The Three Levels Of Getting Out Of A Funk
What is the goal of these three steps? The goal is to feel what we're feeling and ask God for wisdom in processing it. So while we're not going to dwell in it, live in it forever, let it go on and breed into these other deeper versions of these feelings and lead to depression and other things that may result from it. Those things may happen independently, and I'm not condemning them. We're not going to let this get out of control. Yet, at the same time, we're not going to shut it down too early so that God can't do the work he needs to do.
Our goal is to notice the feelings, seek godly wisdom, and then process what we’re feeling.
When we walk through these seasons, I'm not going to say they're painless. It is often quite painful to sit here in these funks, feel what we're feeling, and work through them. All that yet, what propels us through them, is this promise that God is with us, that God's going to give us wisdom and processing it, and that there's going to be growth and blessings on the other side. One of these blessings is increased closeness with God.
[9:50] Resources If This Work Becomes Too Much For You
As we're processing emotions, my caveat in all of this is that if your feelings ever get too overwhelming, where you think you may want to hurt yourself or other people, I encourage you to stop processing and reach out for help.
I will give some more resources at the end of the episode to discuss what you can do for some of this deeper processing. But if it's an immediate response that you need help with, one of the places that you can call is the National Suicide Hotline. If you're in the US, you will dial 988. It's free, and it's confidential, it's available 24/7.
If you're listening to this and outside of the US, I encourage you to google what resources are available in your specific country or area. But if you're in the US, that's something that if you feel like you're out of control in your emotions, and it's reached this critical point, friends, please take advantage of these resources and get help.
[11:32] The Check Engine Light Tool To Use When Checking With Yourself
As we're walking through the steps, I'm also going to use the illusion of this check engine light. If you've ever had that happen in your car, where you've been driving along, you see this little icon that says “Check Engine.” This phenomenon of having your engine checked is a way that I often think of our emotions in our bodies as little warning signs of something going on inside us that God may want us to look at or deal with.
We can outwardly manifest the behavior, the physical response caused by the more profound emotion and thought patterns. That's what we'll eventually help us try to get to. But to know that the check engine light, the feelings we're feeling, the reactions we're having, they are responses from something more profound happening inside. So we'll use that to see how we can process emotions when we're stuck in a funk, this check engine light phenomenon.
If you are in an emotional funk right now, or if you are going to be going through it in the future, there are three stages, and we'll walk through them individually. And I will give you different ways to help you identify each step. What are some of the signs that you're in this stage? What are some of the responses that you can have? What are the reminders that we need to know in this stage?
[12:49] Stage One: Acceptance and Acknowledgement of The Emotional Funk
Stage one is the acceptance and acknowledgment of the emotional funk. This is just saying, “Yep, I am struggling.”, “I am in a bad mood today,” or just feeling these deeper feelings and the need to have some space.
The sign in Stage one would be the check engine light coming on. And we're saying, “I'm going to pay attention to this. I'm not going to keep on driving and ignore it. I'm going to let myself see what's going on here.” You might feel the signs physically in your body (I think of these as response emotions instead of processing emotions), meaning because of the deeper emotion you might notice the physical sensation of wanting to cry or feel your chest or stomach tightening. Or you might be struggling with anxiety and see these outward manifestations of what you're feeling.
The inner critic may flare because she might say, “What's wrong with you?” “Why can't you fix this?” “Why can't you be different?” It may feel overwhelming, or you might feel like “I don't even know where I'm supposed to go next.”
So we need to acknowledge and accept that we're here. It's okay to be here. We can say, “I don't have to push it down. I don't have to shove it off. I'm going to look at this check engine light. I can process it and see what's there.”
Sometimes we live in Stage One for a while. It's important to remind ourselves of this at the beginning because sometimes we try these little quick fixes to change our mindset patterns, but we know that, ultimately, they're not fixing us. So we can acknowledge that we're not going to be here forever, and bravely say, “It's okay, I'm not going to push it away this time.”
Another reminder is that emotions are okay. The check engine light sign is what it is, and it's an invitation to see what's happening inside. It doesn't mean that you're bad, it doesn't mean that you're broken. It means that something is going on inside, and God is inviting you to learn more about it. And also, it may take you a few minutes to calm down and unravel. Or it may take you a few days. You might be in Stage One for a few minutes or a few days, depending on where you're at, what you're feeling, how much has happened, how long it's been since you've been able to work through your emotions. The Bible is clear that emotions are a normal part of being human. We step into sin when we act on those emotions in a way that is not glorifying God in a way that is outside of how God wants us to live. That is when we move from an emotion being a natural human response to something that there may be some responsibility around needing to confess or needing to change because it has resulted in sin.
We also want to be careful not to permit ourselves to let our big emotions lead us into sinful action. This is why it's crucial to allow ourselves to keep that expression within the confines of our relationship with Jesus within a journal. Of course, we can share it with other people. We're not saying that. But at this stage, when things are most tender, when the emotions may feel most volatile, we're obviously at the most risk of injuring others with our actions that could be sinful. So it's essential to keep that awareness.
[17:31] Stage Two: Comforting Ourselves, Offering Gentleness and Loving Care
Stage Two is where we're comforting ourselves and offering gentleness and loving care. When we're feeling these emotions, our brains naturally trigger a response in the amygdala to say, “I'm going to fight, I'm going to freeze, or I'm going to run away from this.”
In the fight response we say “ I don't want to feel this, it's wrong, stop doing it.” In the freeze response we stay stuck in the spinning, thinking, “oh my gosh, I don't know what to do. This is scary.” That's where anxiety often lives. In the flight response we run from it, numbing ourselves from the pain. This is when we want to eat a brownie or go shopping, or whatever the thing is for you to quiet things down. Then in the fawn response we think, “Well, I'm just going to see if I can stop the pain of the situation by silencing my emotions (or changing my actions) in order to make someone else happy.”
So that's our natural response to feeling hard emotions. If we let ourselves fall into one of those patterns that have been established, then we're going to go right back into that the next time the situation comes up. One way to circumvent that is to sit in it and bring comfort to ourselves. And I don't mean doing things in any way that would ever be sinful. And I'm not talking about doing anything against God's word. And I'm not talking about doing things that would perpetuate a habit you're trying to break. Like if you're trying to avoid sugar. I'm not suggesting you go well for comfort, have a nice giant huge juicy sundae. Like, I'm not saying that.
One of the most remarkable ways to comfort ourselves is to give ourselves the space to process and be left alone. Silence, especially in a world where we are so overstimulated, overworked, and surrounded by things that need our attention, can be so healing. Silence is easier to find in some life stages more than others. For example, silence can be hard to find if we have young kids and we're in charge of them or caring for an older parent dependent on us for help.
Within all these levels, I'm encouraging you to listen to them and say, “How can I work that in a way that works for me?” So if you, for example, are a mom of young kids as I have been in the past, when you find the next break in your day (when they go take a nap, or if they sit down to watch a movie, or you run to the grocery store, or you go to the bathroom etc) simply take a second and breathe, and begin to give yourself some gentleness and loving care.
This is when you can remember some of those scriptures we discussed in the beginning, remember the promises of God, letting those bring you comfort. Finding even simple ways to get comfort through your physical body is incredible, for example, by lighting a candle, putting a warm blanket around you, and having a cup of tea. Those are things that I always turn to when I feel like I need comfort. I need to know that I'm safe and that I'm going to be okay. Those are physical ways that God has given me to do that. So you can find ways to do that yourself, that work for your life.
Loving curiosity is another important aspect of our response in this stage. We're not trying to shame ourselves for feeling a certain way or even shame other people. We're just sitting in it.
As you’re comforting yourself in the emotions, we often notice we’re tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted. These are real emotions, but I think of these as “top layer emotions”. We can dig down deeper to see, “Well, what is it that I’m tired of? What do I need rest from?” You can need physical rest, and you may need intellectual rest or emotional rest. You might need rest from other people, like social rest or stimuli from loud noises. Dig into that a little bit.
And that goes with the next question. “What do you need right now spiritually? What would help you?” And, again, cautioning yourself here, you may say, “well, I need a cupcake.” And those things, again, may bring relief, but we're looking for deeper. We can ask ourselves, “what is that cupcake going to give me? What is the pleasure that it brings? And how can I use something else to have that same kind of effect?”
But another reminder is just that there is tons of grace here. This is hard, and God doesn't expect us to be perfect to try to figure it out. One of the best ways we can reframe our thoughts and help ourselves in Stage Two is to ask ourselves, “if I was own my best friend, what would I say? What are things that I would do for somebody else in a position like this?” Sometimes, this can help us step outside of our brain and what we're thinking at the moment to think of how we would care for someone else. We practice this concept in the Christian Mindset Makeover.
Also, just again, to remind us that having needs, having these emotions doesn't mean we're weak, doesn't mean we're broken, doesn't mean we're incapable. It means we're human, and that we're responding to what's going on in the world around us. It’'s an opportunity for us to invite God in. This is the stage that's going to prepare us for deeper processing in level three.
[25:47] Stage Three: Active Processing and Connecting With God For Healing
Stage three is active processing and connecting with God for healing. The part where you're at the auto mechanic, and you're like, “Okay, he's popped the hood. He's told me what's going on, and now he's fixing it.”
For the signs, we're still emotionally upset, and this is still something we're actively working through. But we're calmer, and we're ready to hear, and we're prepared to listen. And at this stage, we have to be honest with ourselves. This is the step we most often ignore because we think, Okay, I've calmed down. It's over, and I can move on.
And some of the responses here would be silence, contemplation, and hearing. It may involve a friend or a trusted mentor to help us process. I always encourage you to go to God first. Because as we shared in the beginning, If emotions are an invitation for us to see what's going on more profoundly, the person who has the answers to what's happening inside us and wants us to grow close to him is Jesus himself.
God speaks primarily through his Word (and this is where we should start). But He also speaks through His world and other people and situations. His council will always line up the Bible.
These situations are an incredible opportunity to get curious about what's going on under our hood, so to speak. We can do so through the eyes of honest loving compassion for ourselves because that's the heart that God has when he looks at us.
What might be some of the questions we could ask? What are the tangible things we can look at? We can start with, “What is the root cause behind this? What's going on here?” It might be somebody who made you mad, might be something that did something against you. But as you dig deeper and begin to ask, ”But why would that be something that bothers me? And what is the root of that? And what is the source behind that? What is going on under it?” God is so good; he is the master at helping us see the critical thought or root behind what's happening here.
We invite God into this process, reading truths and scriptures about how God is with us, how He comforts and heals. It could be wisdom scriptures about specific directions to take, and you could hear wisdom and have heard it before in the process. But this is the process, the point where we're finally open a little bit, and the emotions have subsided enough that we can hear the truth more.
The reminders during Stage Three are to uncover what the deeper issues are underneath. What are the thoughts? That's the critical question because thoughts create emotions and emotions create behaviors.
[31:38] The Permission and Grace To Feel Your Feelings and Not Be Perfect
Other notes I wanted to add about this process: In general, number one, again, you are human. We’re expected to have these moments of feeling off or up and down. This was a big realization that I had because I, for so long, never gave myself the grace to be able to be anything but what I considered to be correct or perfect.
I was not allowing space for myself to feel off one day or be in an uncomfortable position with something. It was, “oh, well, I have to feel joyful, I have to snap out of it, I have to move forward. That's not acceptable. That's not allowed.” And yet, we are human. Even Ecclesiastes says there's a time for everything under heaven. We are created to experience all the different aspects of this world. We can't expect every moment to be perfect and an a feeling of joy.
This leads me to my second point, while joy is lovely, we are not meant to exist from one joy cloud to another. I see this massive issue in the western church, where we expect always to be up and joyful. If we're not optimistic, that there's something wrong with us that we need to fix, wow, there's something terrible going on in you that you need to be more grateful that there's something wrong now, okay, there could be things blocking joy. But that doesn't mean happiness; if we're not feeling joy, there's something wrong.
When we see these significant issues inside the check engine lights, especially around and in these funks, we need to process them, not run away from them. They're invitations to deepen with God. Again, no need to rush may take a short period and is more prolonged than the process. Stay connected to God. Let them lead you through it. You may even bounce back and forth between the stages, but there's no right or wrong way.
You may even listen to what I share today and be annoyed by what I'm saying if you're in the middle of an emotional funk. And that's okay because as we walk through these funks, there's a point in the emotional funk where we feel like, “I don't want to hear anything.” So if you're feeling like that today, it's all good. Let these things simmer, and if they resonate later for you, they resonate later for you.
[34:59] Active Steps You Can Take When You’re Actively Surviving an Emotional Funk
Let's talk about some active steps you can take after going through and talking through what we did in this episode today. First, if you are actively surviving an emotional funk, if you're in the middle of that, I would encourage you to try to discern where you are in the process and to see how you can lean on God in different ways that we suggested today, as you're walking through it.
And if you're not actively in an emotional funk, but you know, you have them from time to time, as we all do, or if you have walked through an emotional funk, and it's fresh for you, and you're like, Okay, now what do I do?
Here are two things that I encourage you to do. First, I want you to ask yourself this question. Are there traumatic issues, like death, divorce, or abuse, causing that funk inside? That is something that's happened, something, a Big T trauma, or a little T trauma that's happened that you need to talk through with a Christian counselor? If you're in a place where it's not safe, always, I encourage you to move to a place of safety. Abuse is not ever okay.
But if you are dealing with these traumatic issues, providing that you are in a safe place, what might you need to do to process them further with a Christian counselor? I can recommend Faithful Counseling: an affordable, online Christian counseling service that's available anywhere in the world..
Next, I would ask this second question: Are these emotional funks you're dealing with related to feeling like you're not loved, or you're not wanted, or you can never be enough, or you don't feel worthy, or there's shame or fear inside all of that? That is an area that I would love to work with you on within the Christian Mindset Makeover.
We use a specific brain science tool called brain priming, where we look at the root causes behind all of that and get to what's going on inside. What are those thought patterns that are there? How did they get there? Why does it make sense that they're there? How can we surrender some of it? How can we pick up our responsibility in our role in it, and then we craft brain priming from that knowledge and that information? This specific neurological process rewires the subconscious thought patterns from the inside out; It's a 63 to 67-day process that I would walk you through. We create this script to work on that addresses your specific needs, your specific concerns, and the broken soundtrack that's there. Every brand priming is unique, which is why I love brain priming.
I also have free training there that talks about how to use brain priming and the Bible to break free from feeling never enough. I invite you to check it out–it’s totally free!
I’ve shared lots of great information here today, and practical tools that I'm praying that you will implement. I would love to hear from you as you implement these tools for yourself the next time you find yourself walking through an emotional funk. You can always reach out to me on Instagram.
Connect with Alicia:
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON COMBATTING AN EMOTIONAL FUNK:
- 162: 7 Ways to Stay Strong During a Spiritual Battle
- 166: How to Manage Your Mind to Hear God’s Voice
- 171: It’s Time to Take Responsibility for Your Anxiety + Discover More Calm
- Ep 91: 5 Soul Care Gifts to Give Yourself This Year Pt. 3: Embrace Self Compassion
- Ep. 92: What To Do When You Feel Spiritually Lost
- Ep 116: Mindset Matters: What is Mindfulness and is Mindfulness Appropriate for Christians?
- 133: Brain Priming: #1 Brain Hack to Renew Your Mind and Overcome Negative Thoughts
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