Editor’s note: The following is a report on the practical application of Lysa TerKheurst's book, Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions (Zondervan, 2012).

Do you often feel unglued emotionally? Life is full of stress that can lead to overwhelming emotions such as fear and anger. Those feelings can well up inside your soul to the point where you struggle with emotional outbursts, which can significantly damage your relationships with God and other people.

Even if you’ve developed a habit of losing control of your emotions, God can give you the self-control you need to manage them wisely and enjoy the healthy relationships He intends for you. 

Here’s how:

Admit your struggles. Be honest with yourself about the destructive ways you’ve been managing your emotions, confess your sins (such as hurting people against whom you’ve unleashed emotional outbursts) to God, and ask God to empower you to change so that you can start dealing with your emotions in healthy ways.

Recognize that your emotions can work for you rather than against you. Your emotions aren’t bad; they’re good when you use them for the purpose for which God created them: to fully experience life. Step into the healing process with confidence.  Don’t get overwhelmed when you think about how hard it seems to change. Instead, rely on the grace that God will give you day by day for the healing process. Whenever you make mistakes, learn from them and move on, knowing that imperfect progress is still progress that matters.

Change your thought patterns. Since your thoughts determine the way you choose to respond to the emotions you feel, you need to replace unhealthy thoughts with healthy thoughts that will help you wisely manage your emotions. Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind every day, empowering you to think thoughts that reflect the truth. Remind yourself that God is constantly working for good in your life, so you can stop feeling freaked out from trying to fix your problems on your own. Realize that you can face situations that are out of your control without acting out of control emotionally, because God is ultimately in control of your life, and He wants the best for you.

View emotionally unglued moments as wake-up calls. When you feel overwhelmed by your emotions and unable to manage them, pay attention to what triggers you to feel that way, and then ask God to help you heal and grow in whatever areas in which you need His help. Don’t label yourself as a mess and stay stuck in your struggles. Instead, trust that God really can help you change for the better over time.

Identify your style of reacting to troubling emotions. People tend to react in one of two ways to emotions that feel troubling to them: exploding (pushing emotions outward) or stuffing (pushing emotions inward). Once you’ve identified how you naturally react to emotions that disturb you, you can choose to respond to them intentionally rather than react to them without thinking first. Instead of exploding or stuffing, aim to process troubling emotions with integrity, relying on the Holy Spirit’s help to do so.

Overcome emotionally exploding. Create a response template you can use in a heated moment (when you’re tempted to explode into an emotional outburst), so you can respond in a healthier way that spewing your emotions out. Start by honoring the person with whom you’re in conflict as someone whom God loves. Respect his or her dignity when you respond. Aim to respond in a brief and graceful way, by acknowledging your hurt, clarifying your intentions, honestly yet gently expressing your thoughts about the issue, apologizing if appropriate, asking the person to give you grace in this situation, and extending compassion to him or her. Read and memorize some Bible verses that help you calm down when you’re upset and inspire you to trust God in difficult situations. Then ask the Holy Spirit to bring them to mind whenever you find yourself in a heated moment. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you learn how to restrain your emotions well. Spend some time with God in a quiet place regularly, humbling yourself, asking God to reveal what He wants you to learn from your emotional struggles, and listening for God’s answers.