Pathway to Wellbeing - Week 4

Today we are looking at the subject of emotional health with input from psychologist Dr Roger Bretherton, Principal Lecturer for Enterprise in the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln; Will van der Hart, Associate Vicar at St Dionis Parsons Green in London, and a director of the Mind and Soul Foundation; and Dr Rosemary Gomes, a clinical psychologist in both an NHS role and independent practice.

Starter Questions

What do you like to do to refuel when you are under pressure?  Where do you like to go?

Which statement do you think your closest friends would say best describes you:
heart on your sleeve OR a closed book?  Why?

How does our Emotional Health impact our Wellbeing?

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think about the statement “emotions aren’t relevant”?

2. How often do you take note of how you feel? How might such awareness help us?

3. Reflecting on what the experts have said in this week’s film, how does faith, hope and love affect our wellbeing?

4. How do you respond when you face challenging times?

5. What do you do to recharge?


Discuss together in twos and threes In twos and threes, share as much as you feel able to.

1. Make a list of 10 things you love to do. Which three could you add to your diary in the next six weeks?

2. How do your emotions affect others? The Bible talks about the ‘fruit’ of God’s presence in our lives: ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control’ (Galatians 5:22–23, ESV). How could you help others experience more positive emotions?

3. What has touched your emotions in the past week making you happy, sad, or angry for example? How did you express those emotions? In the coming week, aim to take note of the things that provoke an emotional response in you?

4. How can you express gratitude? ‘Gratitude practices’ can range from gratitude letters, to gratitude visits, to writing down each night three things that went well and thinking about why they went well. What will you plan to do in the next week to express gratitude?

5. In his book ‘God’s Plan For Your Wellbeing’ Dave Smith outlines five steps in ‘The Prayer of Awareness’ (the ‘Prayer of Examen’ – available below). This prayer developed by the sixteenth-century saint Ignatius of Loyola, is often prayed at the end of each day as a way to become more self-aware. What steps can you take to become more aware of your emotions and to grow through life’s challenges?

Prayer of Examen

One of the key practices that has helped me in this is what is sometimes called ‘The Prayer of Awareness’ (or the ‘Prayer of Examen’ or ‘Daily Examen’), developed by the sixteenth-century saint Ignatius of Loyola. It is based on Psalm 139:23–24: ‘Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.’

Although there are different versions of this prayer of awareness, I use these five basic steps:
1. Thanks: I begin by recalling specific good things that I have recently experienced, and take time to thank God for them.
2. Search: I sensitise myself to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit by praying the ‘search me’ prayer of Psalm 139:23–24, viewing this as an invitation to freedom. Very often I don’t sense anything at this point, so I don’t strive but trust that by praying this way the Lord can speak to me at any point during my day.
3. Review: This is the heart of the prayer, where I look back over my previous day or time since my last Examen and review. Sometimes I find it helpful to ask myself: ‘Where have the interactions and circumstances of my life been taking me – towards God or away from God?’
4. Confess: Then I ask God to forgive me for anything that I have become aware of in Steps 2 and 3, being careful not to allow any feelings of condemnation, but rather to receive God’s forgiveness and experience his love.
5. Abide: Finally, I acknowledge that I cannot live a God-honouring life alone, but I need his abiding presence and an ever-deepening internalisation of his love for me and of his power working within me (see Ephesians 3:16–19).

Final Thought

Which emotions might we struggle to accept?  Why might this be?