It is God’s design for each person to be able to feel emotions and express them. Many people, however, never learned how to express their feelings on a deep level.
Why do some people numb their emotions rather than feel them? In their home growing up, children were probably seen rather than heard. Their parents did not help them process their feelings. Anger was met with rage, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. So, they numbed their difficult emotions by turning to something like eating, shopping, watching pornography, or other things.
Does this sound familiar? Instead of numbing feelings, take out a journal and try the Comfort Circle exercise.
- Keep a list of feeling words handy (This is sometimes known as Soul Words or a Feelings List).
Milan and Kay Yerkovich’s book, How We Love, has a list of Soul Words that can be used and explains more about how to use the Comfort Circle in marriage or another close relationship.
- Take out the Soul Words or Feelings List and pick out the top three feelings.
For example, when feeling anxious, look at the list and pick a word that describes anxiety. For example, write down, “I feel scared, tense, and frightened.”
- Scan the body and describe how it feels.
Is there any pressure, tension, or pain? Notice how the heart feels. Is it slow or pounding? Take a moment to write down how it feels in the body.
- Discover any false beliefs, lies, or assumptions because of the feelings.
For example, write down, “When I feel this way, I believe ____________ about myself, God, or others…”
- Find out the root of when the feelings first occurred.
Ask, “When did I first feel like this? How old was I?” Then, record the answers in a journal.
- Connect your past to the present.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how much are your current feelings about the past versus the present? Does this same feeling keep coming up? Remember, whatever isn’t healed from the past will keep coming up in the present.
- Bring feelings and needs into current relationships.
Write a request or a statement of how to ask for help. Make sure to use “I” statements rather than “you.” For example, write “I feel ____________. I need ____________. Then share this with a friend, family member, spouse, or someone else.
It’s never easy to work through emotions—especially for someone who has been numbing their emotions for a long time—but God designed humans to feel their feelings. Ecclesiastes 3:1,4b (NLT) says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…A time to cry and a time to laugh.”
For more help on the Comfort Circle, attend New Life’s Intimacy in Marriage Workshop. To learn more, call 800-639-5433.
by Kimberlee Bousman