How Your Emotions Help You When You Are Crazy Busy

Posted on February 29, 2020
 by Leslie Newman

Running Away

“It seems like you’re running away from something.” That statement irritated me, and I couldn’t connect it in any way to me. I liked doing things. So what was wrong with being busy? Thankfully, I’ve learned over time to listen for the truth inside of comments that come from people who know me well. 

Being busy isn’t always bad, but the truth is, I was running away.

My life was like so many other women’s lives. I had a lot of responsibilities. I loved my family and my church I was working part-time to help make ends meet. Whatever I was doing, I threw myself into it. I brought work home, and I took on extracurricular activities. When the kids came along I kept that being busy, on-the-go, always “on” lifestyle. They were the love of my life and I poured myself into them without letting go of the busy life I had before they were born.

I had added without subtracting. 

It worked for a while – a long time actually, at least on a surface level. But eventually, I ran out of steam. I was frustrated and exhausted. If I had been more aware, I would have recognized my exhaustion was a signal - the red flag so to speak. It would have waved this warning in bold letters. 

You are running away from your emotions.

The List

I had two lists. The Show-It-to-the-World List and the Run-Away-and-Hide-It List. 

woman being busy expressing multiple emotions

My Show-It-to-the-World List

  • Happy
  • Enthusiastic
  • Confident
  • Optimistic
  • Caring
  • Friendly
  • Helpful

My Run-Away-and-Hide-It List

  • Frustrated
  • Stressed
  • Overwhelmed
  • Exhausted
  • Discouraged
  • Lonely
  • Resentful
  • Angry

Both lists show real feelings I had, but my Run-Away-and-Hide-It List was taking up a lot of my mental energy. Those feelings were all bottled up. They grew bigger inside and it was messy and overpowering and led to a lot of negative thinking.

You see, I believed that because I was a Christian and knew Jesus that I should not be feeling certain things. (Read more about that in last week’s post, 4 Lies that Keep You Stuck and Exhausted.) I told myself those emotions were “bad” and I stuffed them away. I spent a lot of energy trying not to feel them. And being busy was my method of doing that.

I was good at this, and eventually I was out of touch with my feelings. Somewhere along the way, my life lost the vibrancy that it had once had.

The Change

Years later, I was listening in a class and our teacher read us a quote. 

The gospel writers paint their portraits of Jesus using a kaleidoscope of brilliant "emotional" colors. Jesus felt compassion; he was angry, indignant, and consumed with zeal; he was troubled, greatly distressed, very sorrowful, depressed, deeply moved, and grieved; he sighed; he wept and sobbed; he groaned; he was in agony; he was surprised and amazed; he rejoiced very greatly and was full of joy; he greatly desired, and he loved.

G. Walter Hansen, “The Emotions of Jesus,” Christianity Today, February 3, 2017, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1997/february3/7t2042.html

It proved to be a defining moment. 

I thought to myself, “Why do I feel bad about the emotions I have if Jesus had them, too?” 

And then it came to me, something so simple and true and obvious, but something I had completely ignored. God created us with emotions for a reason. God expressed emotions, too. I could see it that day in the person of Jesus, who is also God. The beauty of that colorful kaleidoscope of emotions emerged in front of my eyes as I read along while my teacher spoke the words out loud. 

God created us with emotions for a reason. #feelings #emotions #beingbusy Click To Tweet

That day I began to change the way I thought about my emotions. I began to see my feelings as assets. I learned to pay attention. They could give me valuable information that I could use to make better decisions, sort out my life, and get back to a pace that didn’t exhaust me. 

What is the Answer?

Often, emotions get a bad wrap. We feel like our feelings should not factor into any decision making. We think we should check our emotions at the door and only use the facts. How many times have we been told that to think critically, we have to leave our feelings out of it? 

This puts us in a mental energy drain of ignoring our feelings and dismissing them as if they are weak. Essentially, we are squelching one of the most vibrant gifts we’ve been given by our Creator - our emotions.

Essentially, we are squelching one of the most vibrant gifts we’ve been given by our Creator - our emotions. #feelings #emotions #beingbusy Click To Tweet

What is the answer? Can our emotions help us or do they cause more harm than good? 

The answer lies in how we handle them. 

Some of us have handled our emotions by being busy. It’s our coping mechanism to protect ourselves from feeling difficult things. When we stay in a rush from one thing to the next, we don’t have to face our feelings. There isn’t time for it. 

The irony is that the more we work to diminish and ignore our feelings, the more magnified they can become. They grow bigger and more intense inside of us with no way out. This causes that I-look-good-from-the-outside, but I-feel-all-messy-inside feeling.

The Tool Box

Here are some tips that may help if you struggle in this area. 

We All Have Emotions

We all have emotions. It’s part of the way God made us. Emotions are chemicals within our brains and bodies. All people have these neurological structures. These chemicals are called “neuropeptides” and they are a type of neurotransmitter that carries emotional signals through our bodies. Scientists can even show our emotions at work on the brain in real-time by using PET and fMRI scanning. So don’t feel bad about having emotions! It’s natural! 

Emotions Give Information

Your emotions can give you important information. You can use that information for making good decisions or gaining insight and understanding. For example, anger can  mean, “There is something I don’t like about this situation,” or “I’m not able to go where I want to go because something is blocking the way.”

Instead of immediately reacting back in anger, take a few moments to evaluate it. “What is that something?” Can my anger point me to that obstacle so I can identify it and figure out how to get around it?” The responses to these questions can give you insight.

Emotions Are a Gift from God 

Emotions were given to us by God. They are part of our natural make up and can be a knowledge base if we pay attention to them. That knowledge can help us learn to deal with situations God’s way if our focus is in the right place. We can keep His commands and have emotions, too. We should remember that God doesn’t stuff or ignore emotions.. The Bible full of them! 

Our emotions are a gift from God. 

Our emotions are a gift from God. #feelings #emotions #beingbusy Click To Tweet

Emotions Arent Bad  

There's no doubt that our emotions influence the way we think and act. We can't deny that we sometimes make bad decisions when we are highly emotional. Feelings can be confusing and hard to manage.

We blame bad reactions on the emotion and often think that emotions are the problem. Perhaps the problem is not the emotion itself, but how we choose to process and handle that emotion. 

It’s as if we’re on a raft being driven by a river. We can hang out on the raft and ignore the river and end up being tossed around. Or we can get our hands and feet wet and assert a great deal of influence on the way the raft moves.”

At the Heart of Leadership, Joshua Freedman
Perhaps the problem is not the emotion itself, but how we choose to process and handle that emotion. #feelings #emotions #beingbusy Click To Tweet

Feel Your Feelings

Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let yourself sit with your emotions and don’t block them. Talk to a trusted friend or mentor. Write about them in a journal. Getting our emotions out into the open in some way keeps them from stewing inside of us where they can get magnified in unhealthy ways.

Get help if your emotions are overwhelming you. Counseling is valuable if you need to look into your past. Coaching can help if you feel stuck and want to identify your obstacles and figure out how to move forward.

Being Busy Questions

Does being busy mean you are avoiding your feelings? Not necessarily, but if you are unsure of the answer to that question, ask yourself these questions. 

  • When you are busy do you feel like you are running away from something? (vs. having a purpose and moving toward it)
  • Are you busy for the sake of being busy - just because that feels normal to you? (vs. intentional and balanced busy-ness that fulfills your life callings) 
  • Do you feel uncomfortable or anxious when there isn’t a task immediately in front of you? 
  • Are you uncomfortable with downtime? 
  • When you have unexpected free time, do you automatically fill it up with to-do’s, work-related tasks, or other distractions such as social media? 
  • Do you feel exhausted? 

Answering yes to these questions can be an indicator that you are running away from your emotions. We all know that running away isn’t a good answer. Running just delays the process.

We have a God who helps us through each difficult situation and gives us the strength to face our fears. We don’t have to be afraid to connect with our emotions. Connecting with our feelings helps us stay in touch with ourselves and with our Creator who made us and lives inside our hearts. 

A Challenge

Try it this week. Pay attention to your feelings. What are you learning from them? Would anything you are learning help you sort our your priorities and deal with managing the commitments that you have? 

Choose to see your feelings in a positive light (even the ones you feel are negative) and see what happens! It’s surprising what a simple thing like paying attention can do! 

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7 comments on “How Your Emotions Help You When You Are Crazy Busy”

  1. Wow. This is so helpful and I'm sharing it with my daughter who is struggling with feeling like everyone expects her to be happy go lucky all the time. Visiting you from the lets have coffee link up.

  2. So good Leslie! I wish we were all taught this as children. I grew up thinking there were bad emotions and good emotions. Anger = bad. Happy = good. So from an early age I was stuffing my bad emotions. Or at least trying not to let them show and then feeling bad that I had bad emotions. How freeing it was to realize, years later, that emotions are neutral. Neither good and bad. God and Jesus feel all the emotions. It is how we deal with the emotions that can give emotions a bad rap. Love this article. And by the way, stuffing never works long term. It's like stuffing a garbage bag with something. You stuff a little and then a little more. And it works. But soon the bag gets fuller and fuller and boom, a tear erupts in the side and stuff spills and scatters from the over stuffed bag. It's a great word picture a counselor painted. But so true.

    1. Love the comparison to stuffing a garbage bag. That’s so true! It’s going to tear at some point if we keep on stuffing. Thank you for sharing about your experiences with how you thought about emotions. I think that’s soooo common! Obviously, I had the same issue of classifying my emotions and then stuffing the “bad” ones. So appreciate you sharing your experience, Theresa!

  3. This is so good, Leslie! And I can so relate to that tendency of running away from emotions that are either uncomfortable for me to feel or embarrassing to admit to others. Gotta take my running shoes off and let those emotions walk around with a good friend or two--including with the Lord! Oh! And I absolutely love the quote about Jesus' emotions! Gotta tuck that away in my heart, as well as in my notebook for future reference! Love it! Pinning and tweeting, my friend!

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