God took on human form in the person of Jesus to reveal Himself to you, establish a relationship with you, and to help you know and understand the emotions you experience in this life (reference Hebrews 2:14-18). Like you, Jesus had emotions. Jesus had compassion on the crowds (reference Matthew 9:36). Jesus was angry in the Temple when He saw the dealings of the money changers (reference Matthew 21:12-17). Jesus was both angry and wept at the death of His friend Lazarus (reference John 11:33-38).
Like Jesus’ emotions, your emotions reveal your response or reaction to a situation or person. However, the difference is that Jesus, fully human and divine, experienced emotions like you, yet Jesus did not sin (reference Hebrews 4:14-16).
You could spend time studying who Jesus is and His emotions throughout the gospels to better understand your own emotions. Courage For Life provides visual storytelling through our gospel videos and dramatic reading of God’s Word on our audio Bible app. These resources could help you gain a sense of Jesus’ emotions and, potentially, help you grow in your own understanding of your emotions.
Your emotions are purposeful. God designed you with a brain that processes emotions first and then rational thoughts. Your ability to notice and understand your own emotional responses and others’ emotions describes your self-awareness.
Your self-awareness encompasses how well you identify the specific emotions you are feeling in a situation and how likely you are to know why you are feeling those specific emotions. You demonstrate evidence of high self-awareness when you can effectively identify and manage your emotions. But your self-awareness is not only about you; it also applies to your relationships with God and others. Do you notice and understand the emotions of God when you read the Bible? Are you aware of others’ emotions in conversations or situations?
You could be thinking you are pretty good at these abilities, and you would not be alone because approximately 95% of people think they are self-aware. Unfortunately, researchers have determined that only 15-30% of people are truly self-aware. Researchers also have discovered that people do not naturally know and understand their emotional reactions or their impact on others, which makes improving your self-awareness more difficult without the help of others (reference Insight (2017) by Tasha Eurich; Emotional Intelligence 2.0 (2009) by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves).
God created you with emotions and designed your brain to have emotional reactions first and rational thoughts afterward, making both for specific purposes. Recognizing and understanding your emotions in real-time and understanding your emotional tendencies across situations and among others provides you with an opportunity to improve your emotional health and spiritual growth.
Your emotional responses happen for a reason. Asking trusted people for help to identify both the positive and negative emotions you feel in the moment can help you improve your self-awareness. By taking time to determine what emotions you feel and understand them, you can expose your emotional patterns that could lead to greater intimacy and closeness with God and others. For example, you may have emotional tendencies that result in division or separation from God and others, but you are unaware. When you become more aware of how your emotions lead to separation, this new awareness could help you reduce the negative impact these emotions are having on your relationships.
When you remain ignorant or unaware of your emotional tendencies, while others are aware, these are your blind spots. Everyone has blind spots because everyone is limited in their knowledge of themselves. Having a relationship with God through Jesus provides you with insight about yourself that you would not otherwise know. God reveals things to you about Himself and about you, but He can also use others to help you know your emotions better.
How can you grow spiritually through improved self-awareness?
God created you with emotions. Your emotions are purposeful. God also designed your brain to react with emotions first. The emotions you feel in a situation or around people happen for a reason. If you increase your awareness of how you feel and then discover why you felt that way, you put in the hard work to know yourself and your emotional tendencies. This self-awareness work demonstrates you want to know the truth about yourself which creates an environment for you to improve your emotional health and spiritual growth.
Begin today learning how your emotional reactions can positively or negatively impact others. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you want your emotional tendencies to become more like His with the appropriate emotions, pure motives, and emotional intensity, but without sinning.
Practical help to improve your self-awareness.
- Own your emotional reactions – your feelings, motives, and intensity. Try to record your emotional reactions or create a habit of journaling your emotional responses. Make sure you focus on your feelings. Can you identify what you felt (i.e., specific emotions)? Do you know why you felt those emotions in the situation or among those individuals? After some time of journaling your feelings, are you able to discover any patterns about how you react emotionally to certain situations, people, opportunities, failures, disappointments, accomplishments, etc.? Consider conducting a similar journaling exercise focused on Jesus’ emotional responses in the Bible. Since Jesus is God and never sinned in His emotional responses, what were you able to discover about Jesus’ emotional responses? What did you learn from Jesus’ emotional responses that agrees (or disagrees) with your emotional responses? How are Jesus’ emotional tendencies like (or dislike) your own?
- Rely on God and God’s Word. Your emotional reactions are going to happen. You are an emotional being. But what if you could improve your ability to identify and understand your emotions quickly and move into rational thoughts based on the truth of God’s Word to appropriately manage your emotions and behaviors. Then, you could pursue emotional health and spiritual growth through improving your self-awareness. God’s Word is powerful – it exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. God knows everything about you – your emotions, your motives, your tendencies (reference Hebrews 4:12-13). God also desires that you know the truth about yourself so you can enjoy relationships with Him and others (reference 1 John 1:5-10). Through prayer and your study of God’s Word, God can guide you to know the truth about yourself and your emotions.
- Seek honest feedback from others who can be trusted. Do you have any trusted people in your life whom you could ask for honest feedback regarding your emotional reactions? You have blind spots (everyone does) because you are a finite, limited human being. You have things about yourself that others know that you don’t seem to know about you. Honest feedback that is helpful and timely can be beneficial and lead to wisdom and life (Proverbs 12:6, 15, 26; 19:8, 20). If you are willing to seek and accept honest feedback, you will be well on your way to improving your self-awareness. The goal of the feedback is for a trusted person to help you recognize and understand your emotional responses? Why might you be having those specific feelings? How do your emotional reactions impact others? Pray and discern who this person could be that can observe you and share honest and helpful feedback for the purpose of improving your self-awareness in your pursuit of emotional health and spiritual growth.
Watch the LIVE REPLAY to learn more about how self-awareness is not only about you but also involves your relationship with God and others. Join us LIVE every Monday at 3 p.m. ET on @GodGivesCourage Instagram for our Spiritual Growth Series and check back here on Tuesdays for the companion blog post.