This post is an excerpt from the study guide which accompanies the “Overcoming Codependency” seminar. This portion is an excerpt from Appendix C. To RSVP for this and other Summit counseling seminars visit bradhambrick.com/events.

Why ask a question like, “Would a rose by any other name smell just as sweet?” What could we hope to get from this deliberation that would be of value? Doesn’t everything “flowery” smell good? I remember when I learned that the answer is a definitive no.

Our trash can was beginning to smell. I was sure that I had an ingenious double solution that would win the admiration of my wife: potpourri roach spray. With one thorough application any odor from the trash can would be gone and any potential bug problem would be eliminated. When my wife arrived from the other room, I was informed that a roach spray by any other name smells just as foul. To this day I still think it should have worked.

What about with our emotions? If we mislabel an emotion, does that impact our ability to respond to a situation biblically? The clear answer is yes. This is because emotions are not passive. Emotions are not inconsequential fluctuations in our heart that “just happen to us.”

Emotions are (among other things) a call to specific actions. One of the ways that our emotions reveal our hearts is that they call us to do something about the events around us. Consider the following list of examples:

  • Guilt is a call to acknowledge wrongdoing, repent, and make restoration.
  • Shame is a call to hide or make up for a deficiency.
  • Anger is a call to aggressively correct an injustice.
  • Joy is a call to celebrate a significant, good event.
  • Anxiety is a call to eliminate a threat or to plan for protection.
  • Peace is a call to rest.
  • Frustration is a call to solve a recurring problem.
  • Annoyance is a call to quiet a relatively insignificant interference.
  • Depression is a call to give up in the face of hopelessness.
  • Offendedness is a call to defend rules of decency and respect.
  • Passion is a call to deliver a significant message or carry out an important vision.
  • Confusion is a call to look for answers.

What happens if we mislabel confusion (lack of clarity about how to resolve a situation) as guilt (a sense that we should take responsibility and repent)? What happens if we confuse anxiety (a timid, defensive planning to protect) with offendedness (a bold, righteous defense of decency)? What happens if we call hurt (let down from a reasonable expectation) anger (the desire to aggressively defend what should have been mine)?

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Codependency” post which address other facets of this subject.