Wednesday, April 21, 2021

How to help our patients explore difficult feelings

Often in counseling, asking, talking about, describing, and processing feelings can be really difficult for some folks, especially for “non or less feeling” users.

Instead of asking them ....

How do you feel?
What’s your feeling at the moment?
Why do you feel that way?


If your feeling has a voice, what is it trying to say?
What is it trying to tell you?
What is it trying to tell others?
What is it trying to tell me?

So whenever we want to explore difficult “feelings”, try those and see if we can get more clarity and less resistance.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Helping our patients learn how to urge surf

When we become super focused on a particular thought or feeling, it may create a strong urge and compulsion to act on those thoughts and feelings.

When those thoughts and feelings are helpful, we call that “passion”.

When it’s not so useful and disruptive, we call it OCD/obsessive compulsive tendencies.

So how can we “fight the urge” if it’s not useful?

There are a number of options...

1. We can try to suppress it.
2. We can find ways to distract ourselves away from the urges.
3. We can argue with it. 
4. Or we can learn to “urge surf”.

So what is “urge surfing”?

It’s a strategy where we can “zoom out” from our thoughts, feelings and urges, and notice it with curiosity and non judgement. We aim to ride it out, and at the same time, noticing our urges without acting on them. And like surfing, it also requires a degree of “grounding” ourselves in our body.

Not easy, but it can be a very useful life skill for ourselves and our patients.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Helping our patients to gain better emotional literacy to understand and navigate difficult relationships

Have you ever heard of the term “emotional vampires” described by American author Albert Bernstein?

He uses the phrase "emotional vampire" for people with various personality disorders who are often considered to drain emotional energy from others.

The reality is, we can all be “emotional vampires” for each other if we don’t have the emotional literacy to understand and appreciate each other’s different values, beliefs, way of thinking, way of perceiving and making decisions.

We all have experienced this too with some of our patients haven’t we?

Also with each other in a Professional and Inter-professional setting. It’s normal. It’s inevitable.

So what is the solution?

1. Avoidance- No
2. Get angry, frustrated, and expect others to change- Doesn’t really work
3. Better emotional literacy to understand, better communicate, and navigate the difficult interactions- Probably

It might make our lives and the lives of our patients much less stressful.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Helping school kids with IQ EQ mismatch

It’s not uncommon for me to see kids with very high IQ but relatively poor EQ, leading to IQ EQ mismatch.

They are extremely good at understanding and working with objective data and variables, and are much better than their peers in this area. But when it comes to “feelings”, it’s a difficult thing for them to understand and process. They may be much behind their peers in this area leading to poor social functioning and emotional regulation. 

Why is this a problem for these kids?

They may feel quite alone and have little connection with their tribe at school. It’s really hard for these kids to connect with their peers at both an IQ and EQ level. It’s a double whammy for them leading to adjustment issues with excessive stress response. If they are passionate and extroverted, it may lead to a more fight response. If they are more passive and introverted, it may lead to more of a flight/avoidant response. Often it’s both.

As Family Docs, when seeing fight or flight responses in school kids, it may be worthwhile to include IQ EQ mismatch as part of our differentials.

Some of these kids may end up with an ASD diagnosis if the we, together with the family and schools, fail to help them understand and adjust to their environment.