G4 Emotions

emotions
counseling

Overcoming Anger - Step 9

Tue Aug 01 2017 (06:51)

Accepting the call to STEWARD all my life for God’s glory

In Step 6 we discussed the difference between running from sinful anger and running to the life God desires for us. This final chapter is devoted to the subject of “running to” God’s design. You will do most of the writing in this chapter. It is your life that is being stewarded for God’s glory.The goal is that you would find things that you could give yourself to more passionately than you once gave yourself to your anger. But not just temporal, slightly healthier things that would quickly beco ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 8

Tue Aug 01 2017 (09:16)

Recognizing that change requires PERSEVERING over a lifetime

Are you enjoying where you are? Even if you are not “there yet,” can you identify aspects of this part of your journey that make it significantly better than where you’ve been? Unless you can answer “yes” to this question and take delight in that answer, perseverance will be grueling. Striving without delighting is exhausting.One of the keys to persevering, especially with a struggle as recurrent as anger, is the ability to enjoy an imperfect, in-process life. God does not just delight in you at ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 7

Tue Aug 01 2017 (23:18)

Gaining the flexibility and humility necessary to IMPLEMENT my plan

We are now squarely in the present tense. Admitting, acknowledging, understanding, repenting, and confessing were all focused on things we had done or experienced (past tense). Restructuring life was all about what we intend to do (future tense). In the first six steps we were protected from dynamic things like the pressures and nuances of daily life. To this point, we have scripted and rehearsed our social interactions but now we are leaving the scripts behind.In order to engage with implementa ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 6

Tue Aug 01 2017 (24:28)

RESTRUCTURE LIFE to rely on the gospel for heart change expressed in action

As we get to the most “practical” part of the study, hopefully you are at a better place spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and in terms of self-understanding than you have ever been before (or at least in a long time). This foundation allows you to enact the plans you are about to make in a way you could not when you felt distant from God, isolated from people, emotionally frazzled, and your self-understanding was filled with lies and distortions.

Overcoming Anger - Step 5

Tue Aug 01 2017 (12:11)

Accepting the necessity to CONFESS to those affected

If we became active in Step 4, then we are going public in Step 5. Confession that is less public than the sin which prompted its necessity promotes short-lived change. Confession is when our new allegiance (from self to God) becomes public. Confession is to sanctification what baptism is to salvation – public evidence that a change has occurred and is impacting the core of our identity and how we relate to the world.Confession is often hard for someone who struggles with anger. Anger is about b ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 4

Tue Aug 01 2017 (16:11)

Recognizing my need to REPENT to God for my anger

This material is not another trip around the “try harder” merry-go-round!It is at Step 4 that you begin to experience the difference. Hopefully, you have a more complete understanding of your struggle with anger than you’ve ever had before. You probably have more ongoing Christian support than you’ve had in previous attempts to control your anger. But understanding, the absence of blame-shifting, community, and direction are not the source of change. God is.Change doesn’t involve white knuckles; ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 3

Tue Aug 01 2017 (26:13)

UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my anger

It is unfortunate that this step will likely not be as satisfying as we would like. We often fall into the trap of thinking that if we understand the “why” better, then the “what” will be easy, or at least easier. There are at least two realities that disrupt this seemingly sound logic.First, sin is not rational, so it refuses to play by our rules of logic. Sin is not a simple behavior that plays by single-variable motivations. Rather sin is a condition and a predator. Sin has its roots in our f ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 2

Tue Aug 01 2017 (23:26)

Humbly ACKNOWLEDGING the breadth and impact of my anger problem

It is hard to admit how “off” we get when we are angry. One reason is because we often get angry for right reasons or legitimate causes. We must start Step 2 by admitting that a legitimate trigger is only the first test of righteous anger.Below are seven test questions for righteous anger taken from David Powlison’s article (bold text only) “Anger Part 1: Understanding Anger” from The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Fall 1995). The journaling tool provided in Step 3 will include these seven test ...

Overcoming Anger - Step 1

Tue Aug 01 2017 (25:38)

ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God

Do you hear yourself in any of these statements?I’m not angry! I’m just frustrated!But if you don’t stop asking “what’s wrong” I may get angry.Why can’t I have a bad day without it being a big deal?Your family was just perfect and didn’t do conflict, so that’s why you’re so sensitive.You knew I was this way when you married me. Am I not good enough for you anymore?So you’re saying I’m just a lazy idiot and you’re life would be better off without me.[Silence] Fine! I just won’t say anything if I’ ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 9

Tue Aug 01 2017 (11:51)

STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

At the end of chapter 8 we began to discuss the question, “What am I living for?” That is an essential question in our grief journey. Unless we answer it, our past will remain brighter than our future, and we will be set up for despair. With a question like this, however, you will be doing most of the writing in this chapter. The goal is that you would find things that you could engage as passionately as you engaged your loved one. This is not a form of replacement, but a necessity of enjoying l ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 8

Tue Aug 01 2017 (12:06)

PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me

New and normal are words that do not belong together. But that is precisely what step eight is all about, establishing a new normal. For most of us, at this stage in our journey, we still do not want a new normal. The residual grief in our heart still longs for the old normal. If this conflict exists within you, do not let it pull you backwards on your journey. It is not hypocritical to pursue a new normal against your heart’s desire when reality insists that you must.Even if you are optimistic ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 7

Tue Aug 01 2017 (20:19)

IDENTIFY GOALS that allow me to combat the impact of my suffering

Goals and grief can be hard concepts to mesh. We wish they got along better. We want to be able to say, “I have Saturday open so I plan to get half my grief out by journaling, looking at pictures, having an extended time of candid prayer, crying several times, and then updating my good-bye letter to capture the progress I’ve made during the day.” But thinking of goal setting as a time table or schedule, will become extremely frustrating and ineffective.Also, if we think of goal setting as “overc ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 6

Tue Aug 01 2017 (23:22)

LEARN MY GOSPEL STORY by which God gives meaning to my experience

There are two competing narratives for our grief: God’s and Satan’s. Every experience surrenders to an interpretation. Our interpretation of grief will influence how we understand past, present, and future events. It reinterprets the past when we think things like, “Maybe God is not who I thought he was. Maybe life does not operate the way I thought. If I had [blank] to do over again, I would do it differently.” It reinterprets the future as we apply what we learned (accurately or inaccurately) ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 5

Tue Aug 01 2017 (17:03)

MOURN the wrongness of what happened and receive God’s comfort

No matter how “clean” our interpretations or how pure our story, the sadness of grief will remain. It will hurt because someone precious is missing. Mourning (which has been happening before we named it as “step five” and will continue to happen through step nine) simply acknowledges that we will never “master grief” to the point that it does not hurt. Sometimes Christians can believe (or at least feel) as if any negative emotional experience is a lack of confidence in God or a violation of the ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 4

Tue Aug 01 2017 (18:00)

LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience.

At several points in the study you have probably begun to question God, doubt Him, be angry at Him, or wonder if what you think about Him really makes any difference. We’ve brought many painful pieces of grief to mind. When we look at it, we naturally ask, “Where does ‘the buck’ stop?” It stops with God (or whoever, whatever is in control… if anything is). It has been said that animals divide between herbivores (those eating plants) and carnivores (those eating meat), but the humans are verbivor ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 3

Tue Aug 01 2017 (23:27)

UNDERSTAND the impact of my suffering.

The most common way to “understand” grief is to think of it in terms of stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) developed from the research of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.While useful, stages miss much of the personal significance that is present in grief. Stages may prepare us for what is probable (which means not everyone will follow the same path), but they do not help “me” understand or process that pain of “my grief.”In this study we will focus more on story and journey tha ...

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 2

Tue Aug 01 2017 (18:29)

ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering.

Too often we hear the word “denial” and we think it means simply the willful resistance to acknowledging an obvious fact. When you’re in the midst of denial, you wish it were that simple and overt. The question, “How do I live as if they are really gone?” is not a simple question.

Taking the Journey of Grief - Step 1

Tue Aug 01 2017 (33:14)

PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering

Even though it is only the beginning of this study, thank you for getting this far. It is a testimony to your strength and courage that in the midst of your loss and pain you have not abandoned the search for hope. You may not feel strong or courageous at this point. In reality, you probably feel numb, weak, afraid, intimidated, or overwhelmed. But the mark of courage is not the absence of fear, but continuing on in the face of fear. That is what you are doing. It is commendable and good. We are ...

STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

If the law of God can be summarized in a positive command, then we must end this study talking about how to “run to” God rather than merely how to “run from” sin. Life is not about what we avoid, but what pursue. How we run to God’s design for our life finds a unique expression in each person’s life. For this reason, you will do most of the writing in this chapter. It is your life that is being stewarded for God’s glory. The goal for this chapter is that you would find things that you could give ...

PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me.

Are you enjoying where you are? Even if you are not “there yet,” can you identify aspects of this part of your journey that make it significantly better than where you’ve been? Unless you can answer “yes” to this question and take delight in that answer, perseverance will be grueling.Striving without delighting is exhausting.One of the keys to persevering, especially with a struggle as recurrent as depression-anxiety, is the ability to enjoy an imperfect, in-process life. God does not just delig ...

IMPLEMENT the new structure pervasively with humility and flexibility

As you reach this chapter the momentum of change has probably already fluctuated several times. Getting started was hard. It felt like an uphill battle. Fear and despair didn’t want to let go of you and you didn’t want to admit it had a hold on you. Doubting your emotions can feel like betraying a friend; breakups are never easy even when they’re good.But honesty with self, others, and God has a great way of building momentum. You began to let go of the weights of sin that clung to you so you co ...

RESTRUCTURE MY LIFE to rely on God’s grace and Word to transform my life

Depression-anxiety crowds out peace and hope in our lives. Conversely, peace and hope can crowd out depression-anxiety from our lives. The more space we a lot for one set of emotions the less room we will have for the other. This inverse relationship sets up the approach we will take in this chapter.We will take a two-fold approach – advocating strategies that decrease depression-anxiety and strategies that increase peace-hope. It is recommended that you implement a “balanced diet” – relatively ...

CONFESS TO THOSE AFFECTED and enlist help

It is easier to see why we need to confess sins like anger or lust to others; these are sins that are more clearly against another person. But whatever lack of faith or self-destructiveness is present in anxiety-depression seems to be much more internally corrosive than externally offensive. This is not as true as we are prone to believe – rarely can we be emotionally disrupted and loving optimally – but it is a good place to start this conversation.The pursuit of forgiveness is not the only rea ...

REPENT TO GOD for how my sin replaced and misrepresented Him

Let’s play with the double entendre (e.g., word or phrase with two meanings) “emotional repentance” for a moment. Many readers may be thinking, “My emotions are already down, why do you want me to repent? How does feeling bad about feeling bad help me feel any better?” The difficulty with this logic is that it confuses “feeling bad about something” with repentance; God does not forgive us because we are emotionally self-lacerating. That is masochism not the gospel. The image behind the Hebrew wo ...

UNDERSTAND the origin, motive, and history of my sin

This is the chapter where we trace the smoke back to its fire. Hopefully the steps you’ve taken to understand your experience of depression-anxiety have equipped you to begin to answer the “why” question more accurately. Too often, in the intensity of our emotion, we come to the “why” question as a form of desperation; wanting deliverance more than an answer that would make the next step in our journey clearer. One of the benefits of slowing this journey down with steps is that it allows us to a ...

ACKNOWLEDGE the breadth and impact of my sin

Let’s be honest, acknowledging the breadth and impact of your depressive-anxious struggle is not going to make it better at first. If our only goal is relief, then this is a bad strategy. But if our goal is to overcome our depressive-anxious struggle, to whatever degree this is possible, then this type of assessment is the only strategy. Ignorance may allay our fear-despair in the moment, but compounds them in the long run.Why bring this up? Because many who struggle with anxiety-depression get ...

ADMIT I have a struggle I cannot overcome without God

Human beings are unique from all other creatures in our ability to experience anxiety-depression at times that do not immediately demand the response of fear or despair. Our twin abilities to anticipate and reflect, which account for the major advancements of civilization, also give these unpleasant emotions a chronic place in our lives. Human beings can not only learn from the past, we can be shamed or traumatized by our past. We can not only plan for the future, we can project many different w ...

STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

It would be easy to want this study, like this season of your life, to just be over. But this study, like your life, has at least one more chapter (and several appendices) left. When you put a great deal of effort, as you undoubtedly have, into getting past something, it can be easy to forget that there is something next. The fact that God has brought you to this point should be evidence enough that He has more in store for you and more to do through you. In this chapter you will be doing most o ...

PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me

New and normal are words that do not belong together. But that is precisely what step eight is all about, establishing a new normal. If we were grieving the loss of a loved one, we might resist the idea of a new normal. If we were processing a betrayal, we might prefer “things be like they were before the infidelity.” But with anxiety-depression, the tendency is often more cynicism and doubt than resistance.Depression-anxiety made “normal” feel painful for so long we wonder if “normal” can be go ...

IDENTIFY GOALS that allow me to combat the impact of my suffering

One of the biggest challenges in identifying goals for combatting the effects of suffering is to be active without accepting false guilt. It is easy to think if there is something I “can do” to offset the impact of my suffering, then it is something I “should have been doing” all along.The embedded deception in this kind of thinking is that the new strategy would have prevented the experience of depression-anxiety from ever occurring. If this were true, then you would be facing a sin-based exper ...

LEARN MY GOSPEL STORY by which God gives meaning to my experience

Chapter four may have left you without a story. You looked at the events and impact of your depression-anxiety in chapters two and three, then let go of the destructive narratives that you used to explain them in chapter four. In chapter five you learned to mourn the presence of depression-anxiety without giving in to unhealthy wallowing.To this point it is as if you found an old pocket watch on a walk through the woods. It was dirty and tarnished. You’ve disassembled its parts to clean and poli ...

MOURN the wrongness of what happened and receive God’s comfort

What are we supposed to do with bad news? Step four reveals a large amount of “bad news” – narratives we place upon our experience of depression-anxiety which leave us feeling shame or like God is absent. What are we supposed to do with that kind of bad news?The tempting answer is “make it better… spin it positive… fast… if we can use the Bible, all the better; that way we’re more likely to believe what we’re telling ourselves.” Chances are you’ve tried that and have the scars which rushed emoti ...

LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience

This may be the darkest step in your journey. It will be where your fears find words and they move from being a haunting echo in your emotions to overt statements that feel more true than they are. You will be asked to question what is real so that you can embrace what is true and find the freedom this brings.Imagine the child who is afraid of learning to swim. Each time she is carried near the water she clinches her parent’s neck with all her might. Her fear is real. We need not assign the moti ...

UNDERSTAND the impact of my suffering

After acknowledging the history and realness of your depressive-anxious experience, you need to understand the impact of these experiences on your life. Unless we understand the impact, we will be forced to “just try to feel better;” which leads us to the trapping question, “How can I change my emotions when they do not respond to my will like my hands and feet do?”Merely trying to feel better reinforces a disposition of helplessness and despair.But the other rebuttal is, “Looking at the impact ...

ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering

“It’s not that big of a deal. I’ll just press through this. What is a little sadness or anxiety? I can still do my job, pass my tests, take care of my kids, etc… I don’t want people to think I’m weak, weird, needy, ‘have issues’ etc…” These are the kind of thoughts that are often used to minimize or dismiss the experience of depression-anxiety. Some of these messages may be good and true. Assessing how well you care for your self, family, and responsibilities is important. Often we are “just sad ...

PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering

What is the only thing more overwhelming than being asked to lift an unbearable load? Being asked to move while carrying an unbearable load. That is what many people feel is being asked of them when they begin a journey like this one. When you’re emotionally taxed beyond your max, then even the most practical and compassionate advice either feels like it comes from an enemy (someone against you) or a stranger (someone who “just doesn’t understand”). There is no way around this obstacle, so let m ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 9

Tue Aug 01 2017 (09:55)

STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory

It might be easy to want this study, like this season of your life, to just be over. But this study, like your life, has at least one more chapter (and several appendices) left. When you put a great deal of effort, as you undoubtedly have, into getting past something, it can be easy to forget that there is something next. The fact that God has brought you to this point should be evidence enough that He has more in store for you and more to do through you. In this chapter you will be doing most o ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 8

Tue Aug 01 2017 (08:56)

PERSEVERE in the new life and identity to which God has called me

New and normal are words that do not belong together. But that is precisely what step eight is all about, establishing a new normal. In steps 2-4, you looked at the things that disrupted your old normal. In step 5, you grieved the loss of your old normal. In steps 6-7, you began to piece together a new, healthy normal. Now, in step 8, you will begin to rest in that new normal and allow it to solidify.Unfortunately, the post-traumatic responses of intrusion, constriction, hyper-arousal, shame, an ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 7

Tue Aug 01 2017 (29:56)

IDENTIFY GOALS that allow me to combat the impact of my suffering

One of the biggest challenges in identifying goals for combatting the effects of suffering is to be active without accepting false guilt. It is easy to think if there is something I “can do” to offset the impact of my suffering, then it is something I “should have been doing” all along.In order to help you avoid this mindset, we will arrange the strategies for combatting the impact of your suffering around the three areas of symptoms most common to the post-traumatic experience. Settling Hyper-A ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 6

Tue Aug 01 2017 (19:58)

LEARN MY GOSPEL STORY by which God gives meaning to my experience

When you experienced your trauma, life stopped, at least parts of your life stopped, yet the rest of life has continued in a way that can be both disorienting and offensive. So far this study has been a major deconstruction project; we have broken down your experience and its fallout in many ways. The result is, while you may feel like there is hope for things to be better, you likely also feel like a person without a story. That is what this chapter begins to address. In this chapter you will b ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 5

Tue Aug 01 2017 (18:02)

MOURN the wrongness of what happened and receive God’s comfort

What are you supposed to do with the heaviness of step four? Those narratives are very “sticky” or wouldn’t be able to create the level of disruption that they do. They are also plausible; if they didn’t make so much sense in light of a trauma, then we would just shake them off and move on with our lives.The fifth step may not seem intuitive at first, but once you think about it, it should seem very logical. You need to take time to mourn the trauma you experienced and its impact. Now that you’v ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 4

Tue Aug 01 2017 (19:21)

LEARN MY SUFFERING STORY which I use to make sense of my experience.

This is not the step in which you will answer, “Why did this happen to me?” But that is the question that drives us to make sense out of the defining experiences of our life, of which traumas are typically included. From the time we begin to annoy our parents with the incessant question “Why?” people seek to make meaning of and find order in life. Trauma crashes the narrative. Life no longer makes sense when something traumatic happens. If an event fit our existing narrative, it would have been ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 3

Tue Aug 01 2017 (22:48)

UNDERSTAND the impact of my suffering

Scars and casts, as painful as they are, come with advantages; they can be seen, they elicit sympathy, and they make our limitations understandable. Trauma does not afford us these luxuries. The impact of trauma is usually unseen, unknown, and therefore the limitations it creates are deemed “unacceptable.”It is not just “them” who are guilty of these reactions. We, those who have experienced the trauma, often do not understand its impact because we cannot see its injuries; so we are often harder ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 2

Tue Aug 01 2017 (26:55)

ACKNOWLEDGE the specific history and realness of my suffering

There is nothing “fun” or enjoyable about this step. However, it is a good and needed part of the process. But do not allow these first two statements to cause you to think, “Alright then, let’s get it over with as quickly as possible.” That would be a mistake that could result in re-traumatizing yourself.“Though the single most common therapeutic error is avoidance of the traumatic material, probably the second most common error is premature or precipitate engagement in exploratory work, withou ...

Post-Traumatic Stress - Step 1

Tue Aug 01 2017 (25:14)

PREPARE yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually to face your suffering.

Thank you for the courage represented in your willingness to engage this material. After a trauma any act of recovery, which involves memory, can be very frightening. While you may not feel courageous, it is important to remember – courage is not the absence of fear, but facing your fears wisely. This material is designed to help you do that.“Often it is necessary… to reframe accepting help as an act of courage. Acknowledging the reality of one's condition and taking steps to change it become si ...