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December 2, 2021 1:00 am
Is your emotional health on the back burner? Counselor, speaker, and relationship expert Debra Fileta explores how your emotional health might be controlling more than you think.
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So what I remember about going to church as a little boy like six, seven, eight years old with my mom. Yet memory so that I don't have memories of going to church because I really didn't go well or not. Good memories really, because I can remember. You know were going to church. My dad is just walked out with his girlfriend left our family.
My little brother just died of leukemia, and you know would walk in and I never hear this conversation many times so Denise, that's my mom's name, how you doing all good doing really good and I look up her like no were not doing this is really, but it church you were supposed to put. I learned this year is put on the mask welcome to family life today.
We want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most and Wilson Dave Wilson and you can find us if it we live today.com or on our family life Family life today. If you had problems or things going your life. Those were not shared there. It was put on the mask smile because God is good all the time in your life okay and sounds like, think of the trauma as a little boy that you are in that moment and it would've been great for you to be able to just share your little heart you know all the things going on so obviously as a pastor I always had a phrase like drop your mask at the door. We don't wear mascara because the truth is, were not okay and so they would get to talk about emotional health, spiritual health, even physical health. Author wrote a book which is a great title. Are you really okay Deborah for later welcome to family life today. Thank you so much for having me and for being brave enough to tackle that question. It's a great question that we should all ask very few people are writing about this emotional health, especially in the church and in the Christian community because it's the place where you sorta say God's got it.
I have faith in him.
Okay so you know I'm good when were not always good and so obviously this became a passion of yours as a therapist as a mom for kids amazing husband John. We met at lunch.
Her ear enough contributor to relevant magazine.
You have your own podcast which is cool because it's a call-in podcast with questions with the name of love and relationships so you have listeners calling in with their questions and answering their questions.
Yeah. So let's dive into what you've been: the deep end yeah you know where it where I don't always want to swim your soapbox. You said yeah this is the passion that God has given me right now is to really have Christians get real about how they're doing and realize that just because you're Christian doesn't mean you're healthy and why is it so important and passionate to you well for couple reasons. First of all with working with my clients seeing people from all over the country, different socioeconomic status, different leaders, teachers, pastor celebrities all have one thing in common and that's the journey with emotional and mental health. The struggle with emotional, mental help. They did this study called the better-than-average effect where they took a lot of people and they asked them questions about their self assessment questions how moral are you compared to peers. How good of a driver. Are you compared to your peers. How nice are you all these different questions writing themselves. The majority of people rated themselves as better-than-average, but the majority can't be better than taking someone's gotta fall below the mean right it's available. Maybe this is just like in the suburbs. What, let's take the same survey the same social study into the prisons and asked prisoners how they feel about themselves in comparison to the non-prisoner peers and were all assuming that it will be below average right, even prisoners had the same response. They rated themselves at the majority as better-than-average and just a reminder that we tend to assume that we are better than we really are and I think that problem is even bigger in the church. I think we can acknowledge easily that our souls are saved and that Jesus has saved us and we can focus on our spiritual growth in our spiritual health.
All the while our emotional and mental health are lacking and what we don't realize is that our lack of emotional and mental health is actually sabotaging our spiritual health because it keeps us limited in our growth and maturity, like God calls us to full healing. When the disciples asked Jesus.
What's the greatest commandment, Jesus said love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength for parts heart represents emotional health soul represents spiritual health. Mind represents mental health and strength represents our physical health. I think sometimes we get kinda caught up loving God with our soul who forget all the other areas are important to yet each one affects the other. Each one affects the other. We need them all to love God well surprised by that statistic of this data. Are you well I know I would rated myself that way about the conversation when I had given my life to Christ and I was so excited to tell everybody in my family and I was so wrong in the way I did this, but I didn't grow up in church so I come in the house, like we all need to be saved or were going remember sitting down with my dad like unique Jesus and he said no I really don't. I said no it says in the Bible we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He goes I'm a really good guy to get to heaven is not something yeah and so it goes along with this survey and add to that the effects of social media.
Now you know where we literally are conditioned to put our best face out there picture-perfect lives. Are these the snippets that I think sometimes we are so used to living on that superficial perfect level that we forget there is more going on underneath the surface and then we struggle with something as a society that I call toxic optimism where we want to be so optimistic everything is good hidden life is good and and make it Christian. God is good all the time that we forget to really acknowledge and grieve and get to the root of what is hurting what is wrong. What we need to adjust. But when we look at Jesus the most incredible example. He wasn't a man who ignored how he felt. Even the hard emotions. Biblical scholars have identified over 39 emotions that Jesus felt and expressed, and they were not good one yeah from grief and agony to sadness to anger Jesus felt the spectrum of emotions. What makes him different than us is how he handled his emotions.
He expressed them in a healthy way.
We sometimes don't even knowledge them or repress them or we handle them in unhealthy ways, and so the process of becoming an emotionally healthy person starts with acknowledging what I feel and then learning to express it in a healthy way to help us help us understand it is uniting come to Christ to my junior in college on 20 years old and one of the things I think I picked up maybe I thought it maybe I just picked it up was now that I'm in Christ. It's all about the spiritual emotions don't matter much anymore. You just sort of you're having a bad day or you're struggling and I was like I panic attacks and will have insecurities like everybody else on better than most people. That's what I'm thinking.
And so it's like I was sort of taught it's all spiritual and if you have any negative emotion just push it aside and you pray and you trust God and you move on.
You don't deal with that. That's not part of your life anymore is Jesus. Obviously, I've learned that was very bad theology yeah and you know that better than anybody. So help us understand wire the motions important, how do we deal with them. Why is this bad theology. Like you said and why is this important is because human beings are like a volcano you know when you think about it what's going on underneath the surface of a volcano is that there's pressure building the magma is creating all of this pressure. Emotions are kind of like that, the stress, the discouragement insecurities. Even good emotions are building pressure and when we don't acknowledge and identify those emotions.
The pressure just builds and builds and builds until it finds the point of least resistance and just like a volcano were faced with an emotional explosion. For some people that looks like addictions maybe an addiction to porn or infidelity.
Maybe it's conflict that comes up in our marriage.
Maybe it's depression or isolation and withdrawal panic attacks anxiety everyone's emotional explosion looks a little bit different, but the idea is that there are things going on underneath the surface that we haven't dealt with in a healthy way and they're going to come up at some point outside of your control and that's why this is important when we look at leaders and teachers who fall from the height of ministry. It's not because they want spiritual it's because they weren't emotionally healthy and there's all these underlying stuff that eventually comes out.
At the point of least resistance at the point of weakness.
We don't deal with it.
So part of being emotionally healthy people is learning, number one, to name what were feeling just like Jesus did. To put words to those feelings and let me remind you this is a gender thing. I think some people think will men as good as expressing their emotions. But if you're not convinced by the example of Jesus, look at David, look at the Psalms. This is in a gender thing because this is something we learn how to do or not, learn how to do and maybe society conditions men not to be good learners when it comes to emotional expression, but this is a big part of it. So when you say acknowledge it or name what you're feeling like talk to us as a listener.
This never done this. There listening and hearing this for the first time in their thinking.
I think I'm okay what you mean by let's just start naming what you're feeling. How did they begin yeah and are you really okay, I give you some practical things. Let's talk through some of those things home work in this book.
This is a book you read and just be done with it something you kinda have to work through almost like a therapy session. So one thing I'll have you do is a timeline talk me through the things in your life from childhood to today that have impacted you both good and bad. Let's talk to some of the significant things. Another thing I'll have you do is an assessment and that assessment is actually something you can download printout and it will talk you through checkboxes to go through some of the things in the past 12 months that have caused stress in your life because even good things can cause stress and marriage is ranked just a little bit lower on stress than a divorce. If you think about both significant life changes but I think sometimes we look at our life and we see all good. Ministry opportunity and publishing the book I got married I had a baby and we don't realize that all of that builds pressure when you said those I will await most of us think a marriage would just prorating emotional health. Rather than cause stress but it really is a stressor. It's a stressor while I'm thinking of even the timeline. I think if couples were listening to this because this is something Dave and I have done as a couple, but we've done it with other couples where someone will get up in the write out a little picture of their timeline and their life.
And then they'll share the highs and lows in the things that happen in their lives. I'm telling you almost every time we've done this with couples and even each other like to hear the pain you've gone through what trauma and we cry hearing people stories and maybe when other people are seeing the response like is that a big deal and then I think at the end we've always prayed for each other.
It's the most beautiful intimate thing that we've done for each other and within our family group of friends to. It's beautiful. So I love that. So you're doing the timeline, but even what was the second stress scale. The stress scale that's really good.
Another activity is on the emotional wheel. I talk about this man name Robert Sawchuk who came up with this emotional wheeled like a color wheel and gave each a motion a different color and the mixture of two emotions produces emotion. If you Google a list of emotions you can find lists with like 3 to 500 different words we think about all the emotions out there that we don't really take the time to identify.
A lot of times are just like long distressed or how you feel fine. Good, I'm good, isn't actually an emotion is a description of a motion. Some emotions feel good.
Some feel not so good but good in itself is not an emotion when the number one answers people give me when I asked them how they're feeling about something is I don't know.
I'm not sure about it. We got to do some digging to identify put words to what were feeling and then express what were feeling that step two audio for good. Because when you said that if I go, my goodness, how many times did I say that they would say Sony feeling like don't know just you do a meeting earlier would be you deafly are feeling some you you won't tell me Mike, I really don't think I have a feeling that I didn't know how to process it. Now I know there was stuff connected to my childhood. I'd never know what you set down your feeling but as a married man.
I'm wanting to tell her I really felt like I don't know if you know something. But you know something that strikes me about your story and I know this is a go go when you just in the intro talked about what you went through your parents divorcing your sibling dying of leukemia when we go through such intense emotional incidents what our body does often times is it numbs our feelings because that's how we survive. I have emotions are so loud if I don't turn down the volume. I'm not can survive this. So we turn down the volume of the emotions are body kind of naturally does that, but then what ends up happening is we live life with the volume down, so interesting and that's what I know, this is Dave therapy session, but that is what many of complemented me on this, so you're just so steady ranked your steady and that's what it looks like from the outside.
The steadiness you know that you've done the work to know this but really it's an inability to go there.
I'd rather not. I'm just so you comfortable with being here in this easy zone will just last month. Dave happened to talk to his sister.
Can we be done with love and someone else is so interesting because their family was so filled with trauma and his siblings really don't talk to one another that his sister has become a therapist and she sent her 70 while she said my client are just now teaching me what it means to feel man and so is exactly what you're saying Deborah, I've had to turn down all of my emotions to the point where I wasn't feeling and now for the first time I'm able to turn it up to just give grace and that's why even asking your spouse talk about our stories and what you felt.
That's a great beginning. I like this even naming the feelings. That's good.
Yeah, I think it's interesting and you knows better. Anyway, when you do sort of trace that extension cord what I thought about this as a preacher I had an extension cord wrapped around me and submit. I've learned that my emotions and things my life are connected or plugged in something and yeah go on this journey.
I remember early in our marriage, and said to me one day when I blew up at her for something she just turned to me like the kids were very little so married, seven, eight, maybe 10 years. She said you know I'm I can share things with you anymore because that's all you do, you just blow up that I love about is when she said that a dog she just looked at me today. You know it all. Never forget to begin a journey for me this is 30 some years ago I went to my men's group. Read through the guys that I said to these guys one Wednesday morning 6 AM. We met or we can say to me if you question of all the emotions you experience as a man which one you experience the most of their forget they all look to me like what's an emotion that may then say that would give me an example, like happiness, like sadness, like anger and discouragement which one they all said oh it's easy anger. Anger is deafly a how I knew his anger is a secondary emotion. And that's the journey I went on safe emotion. I didn't know that the easiest one to express because it really doesn't require vulnerability during control. You are the lion right keeps people away. You know what, what's underneath anger. There's always something more like frustration, hurt her embarrassment insecurity. You know, feeling like you're not appreciated. There's always something a little bit more painful and vulnerable underneath anger and for so many people the journey of learning to express how you feel is questioning. That's the third step so identifying what you feel.
Expressing what you feel but number three questioning what you feel your feelings are real, but they're not always true. The motto is truth like you talked about the extension cord I talked about a string of Christmas lights that the emotion lights up in different seasons. It might not be a true emotion.
It might feel it's real and I feel it. Maybe my body is signaling something that's not true.
For example, when you get worried about something, but bit. Let's say you've got something coming up. Let's even give you an example of for my life traveling often times I find myself feeling worried that something might happen to the kid. My brain just starts going on these rabbit trails of worry and fear and stress that feeling is real, but it's not necessarily rooted in truth, the truth is that God is in control. The truth is that this is what he's called me to do. The truth is that worrying cannot add one day to my life. And so, though my feelings are rooted in something they might not always be true. And learning to differentiate. That is really important to give to question those emotions where it's coming from is this real is this rooted in God's word like what is this feeling rooted in and then you begin to have control over your emotions and having the being control of you.
One of my favorite things as I was writing the chapter on emotional health was looking at the life of Jesus and the different emotions he experienced in one of my favorite most powerful things was seeing Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane when he was bleeding sweat was pouring out out of his body and in little droplets of blood there is only three times in history that they've identified that and it's called he Metro sis and it's a condition where your body is under so much stress that they think it's a fight or flight response that causes your body to react in that way and when you think about Jesus feeling that his body was telling him to run his feelings were like get out here. This isn't safe. His feelings were real, but what did he do next. He relied on God's truth Lord. If this is your will. Whatever your will is that's what I'm choosing, and he chose to stay even though his feelings told him to run. He question those emotions and he didn't listen to them. He listened to the father and so for all of us.
It's like just because I feel something doesn't mean it's true it could be rooted in my past history I triggers my trauma. My family patterns. What is God's truth and how does that inform what I do not exist as we wrap up today and talking about emotional health. Deborah give us some homework as our listeners like one is get the book kind of go through it, but is there listening, what, what's the first step for them to take. I think emotional journaling is such an important part of the process. If you've never really taken the time to think about how you feel and express it and maybe you feel like you don't know somebody that you can express your emotions to start my journaling get a blank page. Open your heart before the Lord and just say okay if I'm going underneath the surface. What are some things that I have felt over the past months some feelings when I say I'm stressed right out some of the things that are actually happening in the feeling that they induce begin to put words to how you feel and bring it before the Lord's good. I know that you know my journey with the anger be in a second motion, which before the conversation with my buddies. I have never heard that because I went on a sort of a journey like you're saying I like what is going on with this anger thing with me and I learned the things you are saying like oh I'm skipping right past the first emotion hurt frustration to the thing that I learned over the years. I'm assuming great at it but I called the ABCs of handling your motion and they acknowledge it, which often even as follow Christ like on that angry. Oh yes you are, but we think it's soon. It is not soon, but it can lead to soon be his backtrack to the first emotion, what was it that I went by, often for me it was emotional hurt, like I don't want to admit that that what you said what you did hurt me just to respond in anger. a bad way to him with C then was confesses or you don't speak out that emotion. An appropriate way. I never knew how to do that and it was two things I'm not okay. But God can help me to be okay right. It's everything you're saying in your book is such a gift. If we would take the journey that your toes to take it can change not only me, you don't change my marriage will chain my legacy is your land patterns for your future generations out of your home, you probably heard it said at some point, but people hurt people. But if you have been hurt yourself. If you are hurt, you're more likely to hurt other people.
Jesus comes to us and says I will heal those hurts.
I want to help you become healthy.
I want to give you abundant life, so that out of bed.
Abundant life you can help other people get healthy.
Deborah Floyd has been talking today about how we diagnose our own spiritual and emotional and mental health, and I think in this particular season many of us need to pull back and go. How am I really, really okay. Deborah's book is called are you really okay and it's a book to help us do just that. To do a self analysis regarding our family life to the resource center, go to our website. Family life today.com to get a copy or you can call one 800 FL today by phone again. Our website is family life today.com, the number to call to get Deborah Floyd's book are you really okay is 1-800-358-6329 that's one 800 F is in family L as in life, and then the word today. You know here at family life. Our goal is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world one horrible time in the month of December is actually a critical one for us as it is for most ministries.
It's during this month when we hear from listeners who let us know how God has used the ministry of family life in their lives over the past year and they make a urine contribution to help continue the work of family life into the coming year. So were asking every family life today listener, would you take just a minute and ask yourself this question is God used family life in my life this year through the bent or resource may be something you read online. Maybe it's this daily radio program or podcast that you connect with God has been using this to help strengthen your marriage, your family, your walk with Jesus. If that's the case, would you consider making a year-end contribution to help this ministry continue, not just for you but for the hundreds of thousands of people were connecting with us every day from all around the world. When you make a donation during the month of December. Whatever amount you donate is going to be matched dollar for dollar but up to a total of million of them have dollars. We got a matching gift fund that some generous friends who put together for us. So every donation we received this month is matched dollar for dollar to the total of a million will have dollars. In addition, we will send you as a thank you gift a devotional book from Dana Portland called in the Lord. I take refuge, hundred and 50 daily devotions from the book of Psalms to beautiful hardcover book were also send you a form item, a deck of playing cards. Each card has a conversation starter on it so that as you play games as a family. You can have some meaningful conversations the book and the cards are our way of saying thank you for your you're in support of this ministry. You can donate email@example.com or you can call one 800 FL today to donate and pleased to be praying for us that we would be able to take full advantage of the matching gift that's been made available during the month of December. We look forward to hearing from you and we hope you can join us again tomorrow when working with talk about how hurts from the past can sometimes show up in the present and to cosponsor products. What we do when that happens.
Deborah Floyd will be here. We hope you can be here as well on behalf of our hosts David and Wilson on Bob team will see you back next time for another edition of family life today.
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