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We certainly have said to our children, “Why did you do that?!?!”  What was their response, “I…I just don’t know.”  In reality, they mostly don’t.  “Don’t you know better?” we ask.  “What’s the matter with you?”  Yep, I’ve said them all.

Doooon’t kid yourself.  We all have those moments.  The things you think, do, or say that you tell yourself, “Stop That!”  Only you can’t.  You remind yourself to “Look on the bright side.  Always remember what your mother said.  Don’t you know that?  Haven’t you realized this by now?  Scripture says…”  How many of these things have someone said to you, have you said to someone else, or have you even told yourself?  It is typically preceded by an action or thought that was quite undesirable in your eyes.  You find yourself having done or said something you just didn’t want to do, say, and especially feel.  “Why do I keep doing this?” you ask.  May I offer something for you to think about?  I may.

Before I go there, let me define two terms.  They are “right brained” and “left brained.”  Now, for you magazine personality test taking types you are about to tell me that one is artsy and the other is academic.  You’ll say that one is a dreamer and the other a realist.  If you are a “figure yourself out” enthusiast you’ll probably tell me that you’re an otter, or fox, or left handed emu (or some other random animal used to describe personality types) and the red tipped rambunctious rhino falls into the urgent but strong left brained octoquadrant.

No, I’m not talking about all of that.  As I do with most things,  let me keep it simple…ish.  We all are actually both brained.  If you weren’t you would only have half a brain (insert joke about someone you know here).  Again, keeping it simple, the left side is your logical, factual, reasonable side.  The right side is your emotional side.  Both sides have an impact on our actions in a big way.  Do you tend to be more logic and stoic or more emotional?  Well, that’s what all of those other tests are for but doesn’t get to the heart of what I’m explaining today.

You see, this is one of those things we just learned “down in Texas.”  Here it is.  Your right brain, the emotional side, turns out to be much faster than your left side.  How do I/they know this to be true?  Well, those in the brain science business have been tracking and testing it for years and have come to said conclusion over the past 4 or so (again, this is one of those things that the folks at the CRC have learned since we were there 5 years ago).  Both sides of the brain are crucial to healthy living it’s just that the right side, the emotional one, synapses and processes faster.

“So what?” you ask, “Both sides get there eventually right?”  They do.  However it is important to realize the impact of your emotional side preceding the logical side.  Imagine when you are hurt (oh, pick any, we both know that there are millions of them).  Bing bang boom, you are racing away in your mind reacting to your pain.  Eventually, old logical lefty shows up and begins to “make sense” of the madness.  It begins to sort out the emotional mess that you are in and hopes to correct any mistakes you made while your emotions ran roughshod all over the place.

This is a huge discovery as so much of our life we keep asking ourselves (and sadly, others), “Why did I do this?  Don’t I know that…?  Why didn’t you realize that…?  If you would only remember…”  Well, you did know, you do realize, you do remember.  You just felt (and most likely hurt) first.

This is incredibly important as so much counseling (armchair from friends/loved ones/even pastors or even professionals) deal with left brained logical stats/facts/tenets.  Meanwhile, your right brain is just cruising along, fueled by the much faster emotions.  To some degree we’ve known this as we get those great tips like, “count to three”, “don’t send an email while you are still angry”, “take a deep breath”, etc.  These are all remedies designed to allow the left side of your brain to catch up and rein in quick righty.

Once more, this is essential in realizing why you can’t just memorize buzz words/nice redirection phrases/or even scripture to manage our behavior.  It doesn’t go that way.  Your emotions always win the race.  You have to learn how to deal with your emotions and manage (read: comfort) your hurts so that they don’t race to a point where your left side never catches up or you leave yourself in some really bad places.  To simply say, “You shouldn’t get angry.  You need to let (insert logical statement/reminder/redirection here) change how you think/act/and feel.” is just not possible or accurate.  By the time your left brain communicates that, the emotion has already taken place and the behavior with it.  Your left brain is then left with damage control duty.

If you think I’m wrong think of the number of times you ask yourself, “Why did I think, do, or say that?  I know better.”  That’s the problem, you do know better.  You just weren’t working off of knowledge at the time.  Are all of the left brained truths thus meaningless?  Absolutely not.  They just fail at dictating a response to hurt and the immediate actions that result.  What saddens me is when we then beat ourselves up because someone, something, even scripture tells us the optimal way to act but our emotions take us elsewhere.  Then, we not only have the hurt which triggered the destructive behavior to deal with but also the guilt for “failing” to enact ways to keep it from happening.

To be “healthy” emotionally is to have as few unprocessed hurts (hurts not comforted by others who love us and join us in our pain) as possible.  Thus, the hurts are fewer and not as raw.  They are then much easier to rein in with the wonderful left brain logic.

So, slow down.  Rather, really seek to help others (and yourself) by addressing hurts of today and overall.  Attach comfort, grieve with someone, share your emotions with someone who you trust/love/and know will not tell you how to feel but will feel with you.  Otherwise, you’ll always just be playing catch up and feeling bad about not stopping it in the first place.

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