The Four Building Blocks of Every Emotion (and Why This Is Important)
How you think and feel about your marriage shapes your behavior towards your spouse and how you act within the relationship.
If you want a happy marriage, you must take charge of what you allow into your mind and heart.
You must discipline yourself emotionally and mentally to dwell on good, pure, and uplifting things that support you and your marriage.
The Bible says as we think, so we are.
Thoughts trigger emotions, and emotions trigger actions.
Let’s focus on emotions today because we often blame them for our choices and behavior. Understanding how emotions work allows us to intentionally create a supportive inner environment that improves our marriage and other areas of our lives.
Every emotion has four parts:
Typically, emotions are brought to life by a stimulus. The stimulus can come from the world outside us or from our thoughts.
Emotions are easily triggered. It could be a smell, a taste, a memory, a person, a place, or even an activity.
Life conditions can trigger emotions like hunger, discomfort, amusement, or trauma.
At some point, your mind becomes aware of the stimulus or situation, either consciously or unconsciously. It captures your attention, and you start processing what it means.
As you process the situation, you start deciding what it means and how you feel about it. Do you welcome the stimulus? Is it a threat? Do you disapprove of it? Your unconscious self already knows your standards, beliefs, pain, likes, and dislikes and points you toward a positive or negative emotional response.
Your body, as well as your emotions, responds to the stimulus. For example, suppose you see a spider crawling beside your hand and are deathly afraid of spiders. You’ll get a burst of adrenaline and jolt away! You might even scream!
Or if your spouse does something that hurts your feelings, you might shut down and withdraw instead of addressing the situation.
Why is this important?
Changing or controlling your feelings starts with these four building blocks. Processing these four building blocks creates emotional time and space to objectively evaluate the stimulus so you can make a healthy, informed decision and intentionally decide your response or course of action.
The difference is having a marriage by design or by default. Following this process puts you in charge.
It’s important to realize that you can shape how you think and feel about the stimulus. Remember the spider example? If you don’t want to be afraid of spiders, you might rehearse a different response, starting with a new thought or belief by telling yourself spiders aren’t scary, and you’ll try not to react when you see one. Eventually, your fear will decrease; you might even become curious.
Another belief might be, “I know my spouse would never intentionally hurt me, so whatever is happening here isn’t what it seems.” Processing the stimulus this way keeps your defenses down and opens the lines of communication. It keeps you from making faulty assumptions, too.
This takes practice, but taking control of your emotions is invaluable. Be consistent and manage your emotions firmly to keep them from running wild, making you behave in ways that damage you and your marriage.
Master your thoughts and emotions to unlock a happy marriage!