Emotional Attunement

6 mins read

I used to think that the goal with emotions was to find a way to always be happy. No sadness, no anger, no emotional fluctuation at all, solely happiness. 

I think this was partially construed because I am a recovering emotional avoider. So, to think that health was actually leaning into emotional fluctuation was a daunting thought. And, for a while, I had the misconstrued conception that to be a follower of Jesus meant you should be in a constant state of joy and happiness. 

But, engaging in my therapy and pouring myself into emotional and mental health and growth over the past few years has changed my perception. Now, I think that the goal is unobstructed emotional attunement. 

By this, I mean that I think there should be emotional fluctuation. But, presently, we have barriers to this. Perhaps you are like me and are an emotional avoider, and attuning to emotions is foreign to you because your go-to is avoidance and suppression. Maybe you were never taught how to lean into emotions, so awareness of emotions is a foreign concept.  

The most common barrier, I believe, is shame. For a variety of reasons, we believe that our emotions will potentially make us unworthy of love and belonging. So, to protect ourselves, we turn to a variety of defenses that leave us and our emotions in discord. 

Biblically, we see emotional fluctuation in both God and Jesus. God’s anger in the Old Testament is sometimes uncomfortable for me to read. I fear a God who has that kind of wrath. But I’m equally struck that underneath His anger is persistence and dedication to creating a covenant with humanity, which continually does not trust and fails to lean into His divine plan. Jesus also sets an example of the divine way to interact with emotions. He gets angry, He weeps, He is joyful, He gets exhausted. But Jesus knows that through all His emotional fluctuation there is His Father who loves Him endlessly. Jesus never hides as Adam and Eve did in the garden after eating from the Tree of Good and Evil, the first representation of shame. He knows that with God He is fully seen and equally fully loved. 

And while this may be a very abstract concept, as we currently live in a world where shame is running rampant, I have encountered moments where I am convinced I am seeing a glimpse into what Heaven will be like. Moments that catch my breath and create a stillness rooted in reverence at a glimpse into the beauty that is God’s divine creation.

I’ve had these moments the past few mornings as I’ve sat outside with my son at the beginning of the day. There is something about the calm stillness in the morning as the animals are beginning their day, but much of humanity is still asleep. I reach an attunement with myself when I’m in nature that I have a hard time replicating elsewhere. My breath naturally slows and deepens. I freely attune to experiences in my body and give them needed attention but don’t get stuck in judgment about them as I often do in my hurried days. Meaning I’m able to notice experiences in my body, such as the tension in my lower back. These mornings I name that tension as stress, but I breathe deep into it and continue about my awareness versus getting stuck in stress about my stress and fretting about how I need to not be so stressed. 

So, maybe today, try to get outside. And let yourself just be for a few minutes. I find any time of day to be beneficial, but the slow mornings or the beauty of the golden hour are particular times when I find deep resonance. Slow your breath down and lean into deep, belly breaths. Lean into the present moment. Do you hear birds chirping? Do you see squirrels playing a game of tag? Do you look up in the sky and see a breathtaking, flawless blue, or are there clouds that turn into images if you look hard enough? When the wind blows, do you see the grass swaying? This is also another opportune time to lean into Gretchen Moran’s previous article about “Stop and Smell the Flowers” … into the new life that Spring reminds us of. 

This is God’s creation. In moments of deep attunement like this, even after a hard day or amid stress, nature helps give me a glimpse into unobstructed attunement with my emotions and what I think it very well may be like in Heaven.

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Outside of the therapy room, Kylie enjoys spending time with her family, exploring the world through the eyes of her son, adventuring with her husband, running around with her dogs, cheering on our Kansas City teams, gardening, being active, reading and exploring new recipes.

Professional Background
Bachelors in Elementary Education from Kansas State University, 2015
Master of Arts in Counseling from MidAmerica Nazarene University, 2020

Kansas Counseling Association
American Counseling Association

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