Navigating the Negative Emotions of This Season

One of the things that I’m a little bit concerned about that I wanted to talk to you, Jeff, about, and also just get this conversation going, is that this can often be a tough season where I think a lot of negative emotions and even depression can hit us when there’s so much change. There’s a lot of loss, especially as we transition from the chaos of this, the virus, and all the stay home stuff to just the economic devastation that a lot of people are feeling. I know during the Great Depression, the stock market crashed, there was just this huge surge in suicide and depression. I think where a lot of that is coming from, is that, for especially a lot of men, we get a lot of our positive emotion from goal-directed action.

We’re seeing ourselves progress against big goals that we want to have in our life. Maybe it’s our career. Maybe it’s how we want to set our family up. It could be our house. It could be a lot of things. When there’s a sudden economic disruption and you see yourself being pushed back a year, two years, five years against that goal, it can be just overwhelming emotionally. I just want to talk about that, because I think that can be really, really, really tough to deal with. As believers, I think it’s really important that we think about how we handle just an onslaught of negative emotion that can come from just feeling like we’ve just been set back. Just a couple of tips and then, Jeff, I want to get your take on this.

One is that I think it’s really important, guys, that during these seasons, you take time to process through your emotions on a daily basis. That could be journaling in the morning. I think another aspect of this could be going for walks and really praying through your emotions. One of things that I find most helpful during times like this, if I’m really wrestling through some dark emotions, is just praying through the Psalms. I like to put the Psalms on audio and just pray through those as I walk.

Another really helpful tip is that if you’re really, really wrestling, definitely go outside and if you can’t get out of your mind, get into your body. Do something physically active. Usually when you’re in a dark state, you oftentimes don’t think that’ll work, but man, if you really go out for a run or you do something that’s really physically active, you’ll be surprised at the focus you’ll suddenly get. You’ll pop out of it when your body starts to really rev up. Those moments can be really helpful to get some clarity of thoughts so that you can enter into prayer, really process things with a little bit more full perspective. Jeff, what are your thoughts about guys who might be just wrestling with some dark moments, dark evenings, or just dark seasons?

Totally. Yeah, I think you nailed it, but I think the real big part of it, especially with guys, is we weren’t taught how to process our emotions, so we need to learn how to process our emotions. We need to learn being okay, being vulnerable. I think what I would say, too, is be encouraged that Jesus, Himself, the truly Human One, but also as a man, the True Man shows us clearly that He’s very in tune with His emotions, how He feels. He weeps; He’s sensitive, He’s thoughtful, He’s gentle. A lot of those things show us that that is what we’re called to get to. I think you get there by at least being comfortable with emotions, being, not the thing that’s lowered, but the thing that’s the things that tell a story.

You have to really use them as signals, as signposts of what am I feeling? Why am I feeling? What’s going on here? What’s this pointing towards? I think that’s a really, really helpful thing. A lot of times, because this is different if it starts going a little bit more clinical depression, etc., but a lot of times just the act of processing an emotion in a healthy manner is all it takes to just make it go away. You know what I mean? Just a conversation with a wife or a friend or whatever, where you really feel seen and heard and validated, and you feel like you were honest, true and vulnerable, 99% of the time it just goes away after that. It doesn’t feel as pent up. It feels diffused. It feels like a balloon that lets the air out of it, and then the balloon is just a deflated balloon and it’s like, “Okay, it’s empty. It’s fine. It’s moved on.”

Now not always. There’s caveats, like I said, but I think for most guys, if you can practice that and be honest with your wife to help you with that, you don’t need to play the dumb game of, “Oh, I’m strong.” I think that’s just annoying, ridiculous, not helpful. Your wife is there to actually be someone who listens, who takes it in, who absorbs it, who can be helpful. When you do that, then it really changes things. I think if you just spend the next couple of months on that, you’ll see a radical, radical change.

Yeah. I love that. Don’t let it build up, guys. Really process it and think about this on a daily basis, especially if you feel like it is building up, if you notice those times of just negative thoughts, just negative feelings are increasing, then you’ve got to increase that amount of processing Jeff’s describing.

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