Our society is obsessed with staying in shape. We spend thousands of dollars on gym equipment and memberships, supplements, and the latest fad diets. Not so much with emotional health. Yet, study after study has shown that of the two – emotional health has the dominant impact on our lives. Emotional health will, in many ways, govern our physical health. Jesus taught us three big ideas about building emotional health.
Three BIG Things Jesus Taught Us About Building Emotional Health
Jesus was the most balanced human being who ever lived. If you want to read about how he achieved this balance read my blog article, “How to Live a Balanced Life”.
He modeled how to live an emotionally healthy life. Here are three BIG things Jesus taught us about building emotional health into our lives.
1. Do not hold on to resentment
Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” – Job 5:2
Jesus repeatedly told his disciples not to live in the past. Don’t spend your life looking back, he told them (Lk. 9:62). You can’t move forward if you are focused on your rearview mirror.
This is why Jesus talked a lot about forgiveness.
Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:21-22). In other words – you never stop forgiving a person.
[NOTE: This does not mean that you continue to allow a toxic person to hurt you. You can forgive someone and stay away from them if they are hurting you. Be smart about this; Protect yourself from abuse.]
Jesus warned his disciples that if they held on to bitterness and resentment, refusing to forgive others, that God would deal with them on that issue (Matt. 6:15).
Paul echoes Jesus’ teaching when he said, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry …” and then he said, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” (Eph. 4:26, 31).
Paul gives us a list of the toxins that kill emotional health. If you are struggling to deal with them get professional help. These will not only zap your emotional strength, they will damage your physical health.
Clinging to bitterness is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
2. Stay connected to people.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” – John 15:12
Jesus was emotionally healthy because he invested himself in others. Jesus spent a lot of time alone [read my blog article, “Jesus and the Wilderness”], but his alone time was so that he could recharge and then reconnect with others.
Jesus always resisted the temptation to isolate himself. Even when the authorities were after him and he could no longer live in a city or village – he was forced to live in the wilderness – even then, he was still gathering disciples and investing in others (John 10:40-42).
When your emotional health goes off the rails there is a great temptation to isolate – to withdraw into your own little world of pain. That’s understandable. However, you must resist the temptation to withdraw. The secret to your healing is always found in a relationship. The key to emotional health is found in your connection to other people.
The night before his death, Jesus wanted to give his disciples the key to their success as a spiritual movement. He did it with both a command and a visual lesson to undergird the command. The command was this: “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He even told them – “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Then he gave them the visual for this command – he washed their feet. This was the task reserved for the lowliest of all slaves. And Jesus lowered himself to that position to serve his disciples. The message was clear – this is the secret to your success – the way you serve each other.
Do you want a clear and certain path to emotional health? Get outside of yourself and put other people first. Start serving others and you will begin to feel an emotional strength that comes from God.
3. Believe in something bigger than yourself.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” – John 10:18
Jesus was addressing the question of his own death. He had a strong sense that God was in control of his life. He knew that they were going to kill him, but he also knew that ultimately, those who would kill him were not in control. He knew that his existence was about something bigger than his own life.
In another place, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Jesus was not afraid of those who would crucify him. He knew that God was in control of all things and had a bigger plan. In other words, he believed in something bigger than himself.
There is a powerful emotional strength in the person who goes through life unafraid.
Believe in something bigger than yourself and you too will have the strength to stand strong and overcome anything that opposes your future.
12 Practical Tips for Building Emotional Health
Based on these BIG three lessons from Jesus, here are 12 practical tips for building emotional health a little every day.
Take a Regular Retreat from Social Media
Practice Mindfulness – Sitting Quietly with Your Own Thoughts
Start Being Kinder to Yourself
Do Something New
Take Responsibility for Who You Are
Stop Dwelling On the Past
Get Out in Nature!
Don’t be Afraid to Get Professional Help
Educate Yourself on Emotional Health
Get Higher Quality Sleep
Let Yourself Feel Sad at Times – It’s Healthy
Make Time for What You Love
I hope this helps!