45 Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder.
46 And ye also know that by the power of his almighty word he can cause the earth that it shall pass away; yea, and ye know that by his word he can cause the rough places to be made smooth, and smooth places shall be broken up. O, then, why is it, that ye can be so hard in your hearts?
(1 Nephi 17:45-46)
Governing our emotions wisely means more than reducing the impact of our negative emotions. It also includes being aware of quiet, uplifting emotions and allowing them to exercise their influence in our lives. We know that strong emotions, such as anger, anxiety, or discouragement, can overcome our reason and cause us to behave unwisely. But we can also go astray by ignoring righteous feelings, which are generally more delicate and require more sensitivity to detect.
In the passage above, Nephi tells his brothers that they are “past feeling” and hard-hearted. Their perception of reality has become distorted because of their insensitivity to some important emotions. Only by opening their hearts again and beginning to experience those feelings will they be able to recognize the truth and progress.
Elder Richard G. Scott taught that negative emotions can overpower the still, small voice of the Spirit and render us unable to hear His voice:
The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit (“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” General Conference, October 2009).
Today, I will make sure that my heart is open to the quiet feelings that come through the still, small voice. I will remember that these feelings are difficult to detect and can be easily blocked by noise, internal or external. I will take care to remove distractions so that I will be able to feel the quiet promptings of the Spirit of the Lord.