Feelings Influence Our Behavior
At any time it is possible to encounter a situation that will produce a positive or negative feeling. The result of that emotional response will have an influence, productive or destructive, on the way we behave or respond to the event. It is possible to experience sadness, grief, rage, ecstasy, apprehension, joy, happiness, anger, fear, distraction, boredom, disgust, annoyance, resentment, surprise or excitement all within a short time. Any one of these responses will produce an observable behavior. These experiences may create sudden behavioral responses, or they may lie dormant for a period of time before the behavioral response is observed.
We express our negative and positive feelings with verbal behavior (words) or with non-verbal behavior (actions, reactions or inactions). Our personality reflects the combination of our thoughts, actions and feelings. The way we behave will depend upon what we think and how we feel about what we think. What we do and how we behave communicate as much, if not more than, what we say.
God Gave Us Feelings
God created us with the capacity to feel or experience emotions. We can therefore conclude that God has also given us the ability to understand these emotions so we can enjoy them and use them rather than be victimized by them. The challenge we have is to understand the nature of emotions, how they affect our decisions and how we can learn to harness them for God's glory.
Feelings Are In Our Mind
Emotions, be they feelings of love or fear, are in the mind. They are the product of what the mind dwells on or perceives. Emotions respond to our thoughts and behaviors. It doesn't matter whether the mind knows if a statement or event is true or not; it will produce emotions in harmony with what it's thinking. Placing a wrong interpretation on a fact will create an inaccurate emotion. It is not the actual event but our perception of the event that results in changes in our feelings. A distorted view and interpretation of a fact will produce a corresponding emotion.
Feelings, some would say, "are the subjective awareness of one's own emotional state." In these New Life studies, we have come to understand that the mind is the core of our thoughts, feelings and actions. The "heart" is in the mind. Feelings are an important part of an emotionally healthy person. In the emotionally healthy person, these feelings tend toward love and away from fear, toward sharing and away from selfishness.
Feelings Are Reactions
Any given situation we encounter may trigger an emotional response. The following is a description of how we might react to an event:
All four of these steps take place in a "split" second.
- First we will experience a feeling or emotion (fear, panic, joy sadness, etc.).
- Simultaneously we will think about the event. We will realize or know what has just happened to us (cognitive reaction to the event).
- We then experience chemical changes in our bodies. These chemical reactions will either produce a natural calming effect (parasympathetic response) or will stimulate our bodies by producing hormones (sympathetic response).
- Lastly, there will be an observable response.