Have you ever been baffled by your overreaction to something trivial? Why does a song on the radio trigger crying? Or why does the smell of a certain perfume or aftershave raise the hairs on the back of some of our necks? Why do some things cause women to spit nails with their words at another person? The emotions of women are very complex.
Come along. Let’s explore and understand our emotions.
What are emotions?
Being a visual learner, I found that the written definition of emotions just did not resonate with me. So I developed this diagram to help me form a mental picture of what was happening. I hope it will help you as much as it did me. We will break it down in a minute.
A Response to something
The emotions of women are responses or reactions to something that happens. Furthermore, these responses can be elicited over and over long after the event occurred. What happened could have been years ago, but you still “can” experience the same response with the same intensity when something reminds you of that past event.
I say “can” because it is also possible to neutralize our response to the point of almost nothing. This is good news because some of us desperately need relief from some of our negative emotions.
Besides feelings, there are mental and physical responses.
There is an endless amount of thoughts that could be going on in our minds when something happens. However, when you boil it down to something simple, in the end, we think it is either good or bad. Like iced cream, though, good and bad have different flavors. Our life experiences, education, family dynamics and so much more influence our conclusions.
Not only do our minds and feelings react to what is going on around us, but our bodies do also. Our heart may race. Our breathing may become faster. Our skin may feel clammy.
Additionally, we may speak words in keeping with our beliefs and judgments about what happened. When we do this, we create a loop (thoughts-> words-> ears ->mind ->thoughts). This loop can easily reinforce our thinking- whether it is correct or not.
What influences the response?
What we think or believe about what happened is critical to how we respond.
Let’s say you pass someone who is wearing the scent of a perfume or aftershave that reminds you of someone in your past. When my father died, my mom gave me his bathrobe which still had the scent of his aftershave on it. It felt comforting to me and seemed like my dad was close by. My thoughts found this fragrance “good”. But let’s say my father was abusive. To smell that aftershave would cause me to feel apprehensive and maybe fearful because those thoughts and associations were “bad”. The same trigger, but two different responses involving my thoughts.
Our perceptions of what happened also play a role in our responses. We may read something into a situation that really was not there. Nonetheless, we respond to our perception, not what really happened. This could be highly embarrassing at times, or extremely detrimental at other times.
The different emotions of women
There are many theories about emotions. Some say there are 4 main human emotions, while others say 7, 13, or more. I personally like the 4 emotions theory, out of which springs all of our feelings. Those four emotions are:
- Happiness – leading to feelings of joy, optimism, serenity, love, admiration, confidence, contentment, trust, pride, and all of the positive feelings that we like.
- Fear – leading to feelings of distrust, apprehension, anxiety, insecurity, and many more uncomfortable feelings that most of us do not like.
- Sadness – leading to feelings of sorrow, remorse, guilt, loss, emptiness, disappointment, which most of us don’t like.
- Anger– leading to feelings of irritation, annoyance, contempt, rage, aggressiveness, which if not channeled correctly can become destructive.
Are the emotions of women good or bad?
Since we were created in the image of God, He didn’t make any mistakes. As humans, we tend to think that positive emotions are good and negative emotions are bad. But since God created us with the ability to experience all of them, they all are good when in the right context. We know this because when God was done creating, He said it was good.
You may be wondering what the purpose of emotions is, especially the negative ones. God created mankind for the purpose of connection to Himself. So everything about us, including our emotions are to direct us to Him. Our feelings tell us what we value and what is important to us. That is a key to remember as we look at scripture passages about our emotions.
Bible verses about the emotions of women
“As a woman thinks in her heart, so is she.” Proverbs 23:7
We might paraphrase this verse to say, “Ladies, what you think about is so closely tied to your heart, you become what you think”.
Thoughts and the emotions of women
Our hearts and minds are tethered together. Thus, our emotional responses are directly connected to what has been going on in our heads. This is not just Biblical, it is supported by modern science.
Never underestimate how much the constant stream of information coming into your mind influences how you feel. Scripture tells us that we need to guard our hearts and minds (Proverbs 4:23), and for good reason. This is the first place we must start if we want to change our feelings.
To take it a step further, we can then take that stream of information and replay it over and over like TV reruns. Our minds will believe whatever we tell them, so we need to be careful what we think about. Repetitive thoughts eventually become our belief system.
Values and the emotions of women
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)
The things that we think are important will govern our feelings. Therefore, when what we value is threatened, we will be angry and protective. In contrast, things that are not important to us will hardly arouse our emotions.
So how do we apply this verse to our lives? If I am irritated at someone because they were late to our lunch date, I clearly value my time over theirs. But what if they were detained in traffic? What if they got a call from the school that their child fell and hit her head and is in the emergency room? In a panic, they forgot to call me. Yet I am irritated. You see, my feelings were based on what I valued, which wasn’t my friend. The problem was that I didn’t have enough facts. It would have been better for me to send a text and ask, “are you alright?” That would be valuing her time and her situation. Are we not called to love others more than ourselves?
Positive and negative emotions
Most people value positive emotions and do not value negative ones. In fact, most people avoid negative feelings if at all possible. Yet, there are times when both are good, and times when they are not. Let’s take a closer look.
A teen is afraid of what his peers think of him. Because of this, he steals money to buy designer clothing. He then feels happy and valued since he gets the attention of his peers.
Later down the road, he starts to feel guilty and another student leads him to Jesus for repentance. He learns that his sin is forgiven, but he continues to feel guilty.
This teen’s fear is a negative emotion and in this case, is not good. Scripture teaches that the fear of the opinions of other people is a trap and this teen fell right into it. Scripture also teaches that fear can be good, especially the fear of God’s opinion. When we value what God thinks, it is “the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)
This teen then experiences several positive feelings that are not good. He is finding his personal worth in his possessions and not in who he could be in Jesus.
Finally, he feels guilty. The first instance is good because it leads him to the cross of Jesus and forgiveness. Unfortunately, he apparently doesn’t believe he is forgiven and his subsequent feelings of guilt are not good.
When a person feels happy and satisfied after cheating on their spouse, these positive feelings are not good. This person values sin over the teachings of scripture.
When a person is sorrowful after the death of their spouse, these negative feelings are good for a season. This person values relationships and people. It also can lead them to God to find comfort.
Triggers to the emotions of women
When you think about a firearm, the trigger is what sets off the release of ammunition. Likewise, environmental or internal triggers set off feelings, thoughts, and physical responses.
Common emotional triggers (1)
- the anniversary dates of losses or trauma.
- frightening news events.
- too much to do, feeling overwhelmed.
- family friction.
- the end of a relationship.
- spending too much time alone.
- being judged, criticized, teased, or put down.
- financial problems, getting a big bill.
This list could be endless. Do you know what your emotional triggers are?
How to handle emotional triggers
Strong emotions and feelings can surface rapidly. It is important to stop and think about what set off your response. Ask yourself these questions.
- What just happened?
- What are my thoughts about it?
- Do I believe what happened is good or bad? Why?
- What exactly am I feeling, both physically and emotionally?
- Are my feelings rooted in something from the past?
- Does the past really apply now? Why?
- Do my feelings tell me something about what I value?
- Are my values in keeping with the teachings of scripture?
A gift to help you sort out your emotions
The emotions of women are complex, but not impossible to understand. If you have tried the suggestions above and still are distressed or baffled by your emotions, you may need professional help. Sometimes medications and hormonal changes complicate this thing we call emotions.
However, if the suggestions above are helpful, I have prepared a worksheet that you can use as one of your journal pages. It will help you explore your emotions and feelings. It is a free gift. No email required. Simply download it.
You may also like to read Are your thoughts holding you captive?
(1) Thanks to Mentalhealth.net for the list of common emotional triggers.