The Driving Force of Emotion

by Feb 8, 2017

What We Feel We Tend To Do

Though we probably do not want to admit it, emotional pain is a primary motivator that drives us to do much of what we do.  We feel something and so we do something.  If indeed we are influenced by what we feel, and if what we feel happens to be caused by our lie-based belief, the outcome of our behavior is doomed for failure. This is important to remember when we are in the heat of the moment making decisions that  are charged by lie-based pain. Nothing good will come of it.
How can we expect to do what is right if our motivations are rooted in falsehood? I can say without reservation, the many stupid decisions I have made in life occurred in the context of my lie-based pain being triggered. Someone may have said something or done something to me, triggering my lie-based pain and set off my “knee-jerk” reaction. This never turns out well. For example: have you ever received a troublesome email and then with unbridled thought and in emotionally charged haste, sent back a response?
Do you remember that sick feeling of regret you had in your stomach and wishing you could hit the UNDO key and bring it back? There needs to be a message that pops up on the computer screen when the keypad senses heightened emotion pulsing in our fingertips, one that says, “ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THIS? WHAT ARE YOU  FEELING RIGHT NOW?  IF PEACE — CLICK SEND.  IF NEGATIVE  EMOTION — CLICK ABORT AND GET TMP NOW!”  


What’s Controlling Who


Some people claim that their emotions do not control their behavior. As much as they would like to believe this, it simply is not so. What we feel in any given situation has great bearing on what we do. As a matter of fact, much of what we do is either an expression of our pain or an avoidance of it – pain management.  Sin is often an expression of one or both of these behaviors.

The man who says that his emotions do not control him, but rather, that he controls his emotions, fails to see the obvious. The very fact that he has to expend energy to suppress what he feels says that his feelings are controlling him. His efforts to control what he feels, also known as suppression, indicate that his emotions are dictating his behavior. If his emotions were not a problem, he would not need to suppress them in the first place.


Because we feel whatever we believe, we tend to act out what we feel.

This perspective and consequential behavior (suppressing what we feel) views emotion as an enemy that has to be warded off. The truth is, emotions are not our enemy; they are part of God’s creation and design — not something we need to control, but rather something that needs our attention. Emotions are direct indicators of what we believe in any given moment. We feel whatever we believe. Because this is true, our emotions should be welcomed and well-received if we are believing the truth. However, if we do not like what we are feeling, there may be a problem with what we believe that needs our attention.

While life happens around us, our minds automatically and instantaneously search through our inventory of experientially learned core beliefs to interpret our current circumstance. When the mind selects the core belief that best fits or matches the situation, we automatically feel the emotion that corresponds with that particular belief. What we feel in any given moment tends to have a great influence on what we decide to do next. Most of us make initial choices from this emotionally-charged position.

We can try to choose to behave contrary to the emotion we feel, but such a choice involves great internal struggle. We can try not to be controlled by what we feel, but the very fact that we struggle proves otherwise. The fight not to feel something and the struggle to be in control, are being dictated by what we are feeling.  So, ultimately, what is in control?


Default Options to Emotional Pain: Blame and Distraction


People typically respond to lie-based emotional pain in two ways – blame or distraction. They either blame someone or something for feeling what they feel, or they do something to distract themselves from their emotions: have food, drink or sex, do church work, seek entertainment, etc. To the degree that our solutions for managing our pain are based upon our ability to change others or our situation, failure is inevitable. Even if we can change locations and get all new relationships, and eat 32 different flavors of ice cream, before very long, we will find ourselves experiencing the same bad feelings all over again. There is a common denominator here and it is not location, other people or what we put in our mouths.
None of these approaches to pain management address the real cause of our pain, so it remains. The common denominator is our personal belief system. If we think our feelings are the problem, we are destined for failure. Since what we feel is not the true problem, trying to make the pain go away is not the solution. We must identify the source of our pain – which is our core belief – and receive the Lord’s perspective.  When this occurs, transformation will follow.
Transformation is a work of God that is a natural and expected outcome of knowing the truth in our heart – experientially. When our solution for dealing with our emotional pain involves self-effort, discipline or controlling our behavior, we are on the wrong path. You cannot make yourself feel anything different from what you believe. You may succeed in suppressing what you feel out of your conscious awareness, but this does not make it go away, nor does it decrease the impact produced by lie-based thinking.  You cannot make yourself believe differently than what you believe at the core level.  You can increase your biblical knowledge, but becoming smarter in what the Bible says is no guarantee of transformation. There are many very biblically educated people who are not walking in genuine freedom and peace.  


Performance Equals Predictable Failure.  


All solutions that are dependent upon me attaining and sustaining them will fail. True success is the completion of something. I successfully run a race when I cross the finish line, not because I am running well. Success is not determined by longevity – how long I can keep running or how far I get – but finality. Only the Lord can accomplish this level of success. Only He can bring about a finished work. No one, including myself, can talk me out of the lies I believe; however, when the Lord grants me His perspective, the lies I believe will no longer feel true and will never feel true again. Finality! He can truly resolve the real sources of our emotional pain which are the lies we harbor. He does this when He grants us the truth within our hearts. He will do this when we are in the right position to receive it.
We can educate ourselves with the Bible, but only He can open the eyes of our hearts to KNOW it. The Apostle Paul prayed, “… may [GOD] give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you…” (Eph. 1:17-18). When the Lord does a work in us, it is complete and requires no maintenance on our part to sustain. Mind renewal is His work and is followed by transformation (Rom. 12:2) which is an expression of the fruit of the  Spirit.