Taking a You-Turn with Your Emotions

Do you need to take a You-Turn? In the very reading of Alison Cook's blog I found oh-so-much help. And direction back to ME. Read on!


Taking a You-Turn with Your Emotions

By Alison Cook, PhD

A decade ago, when I was single and working my way through graduate school, I found myself envying a woman I worked for.

I didn't want to envy this lovely woman who'd been nothing but kind to me. I hated feeling that way. But beating myself up about this feeling got me nowhere.

I decided to get curious about my envy instead of trying to stifle it. What was is it about her life that stirred up this unpleasant feeling inside of me? I shifted from envying her to recognizing she had much to teach me - and I began to take notice.

There were many things about her that I admired: how she engaged her own work with passion but always took time to be present with her family ... the light-heartedness evident in her relationships with others ... the way her home was welcoming and lived-in.

There was always an extra seat at her dinner table, an open invitation for connection. The truth was that my own life had become a little out-of-balance. My work had taken over at the expense of connecting with others. Envy became a cue that something in my own life needed to change.

I had discovered what it means to take a "You-Turn." In Matthew 7:3-4, Jesus challenged the crowd to work on their own issues, before pointing fingers at others. "And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?" (NLT)

When you're feeling envy, anger or resentment, it's good to ask what else is going on inside. Is there another part of me that's hurting and that I've been exiling? If so, it needs to be drawn in closer so you can give it the care it needs. Or, Is there a part of me that's become reckless and needs some gentle boundaries? Notice the cues. Listen to your pain.

When challenging emotions make their presence known, take the opportunity to evaluate what is going on inside of you. Which parts of your soul need your time, attention and redirection? Painful or troubling emotions present opportunities for growth and healing: Internal conflict is often growth trying to happen.

Taking a You-Turn helps me gain clarity about my conflicted thoughts and feelings so I can respond intentionally instead of becoming reactive. It doesn't mean I start to criticize myself for having the difficult or uncomfortable emotion. Instead, it means getting curious and treating myself with compassion. Taking a You-Turn starts with these three steps:

1) Focus on the challenging or overwhelming part of yourself.

2) Befriend this part you don't like.

3) Invite Jesus to draw near.

Just the other night, I stopped to take a break from my work to snuggle up with the dog on the couch and watch a silly TV show with my daughter. As we laughed out loud in our very lived-in family room, I remembered that woman whose life I had once envied ... with gratitude. With the help of God's Spirit, I'd been able to focus on a feeling I didn't like and allow Jesus to transform it. As a result, I gained access to some of my deepest desires and was able to take steps to change my own life.

When you spend time with God, don't leave your unwanted thoughts and feelings at the door. Instead, get curious about them and invite Jesus to be near them, too. "The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper." Proverbs 19:8 (NIV)

Alison Cook, PhD is a counselor, speaker, and the co-author (with Kimberly Miller, MTh, LMFT) of Boundaries for Your Soul. For over 20 years, Alison has helped ministry leaders, students, couples, and families learn how to stand firm, develop confidence from the inside out, forge healthy relationships, and fully live out their God-given potential.

© Elisa Morgan 2020

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