Saturday, January 22, 2022

Managing the “negative emotional contagion” of others is like managing hayfever

In hayfever, we advise patients to …

1. Avoid the dust and pollens when practical.

2. Help to reduce to dust and pollens in our environments. 

3. Desensitization to dust and pollens.

4. Reduce our reactions to the dust and pollens through preventers. 

5. Nasal rinse, washouts, and sweep up the histamine reactions with antihistamines.

To help ourselves and our patients deal with the “negative emotional contagion” of others, the principle is not too dissimilar.

1. Avoid the “negative or toxic emotions” around us. Try to set clearer and better boundaries around these. 

2. Help those important in our lives to have better emotional literacy, and to maintain better emotional hygiene for each other. I acknowledge that this is not always easy. 

3. Learn to “hold space” for the “negative or unhelpful emotions” of others around us, rather than react and escalate. 

4. “Hold space” for our own internal feelings and being more mindful.  Cultivate and foster self compassion.  Look after our own biopsychosocial health. In order to look after many others, remember to put oxygen masks on ourselves first before others.

5. Cultivate the use of more compelling values or emotions to “dilute or displace” the more negative emotions. Use values or emotions like care, compassion, hope, curiosity, and openness to take action despite these challenges.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Learning to hold space for the “negative” feelings of others

Growing up, I had a terrible habit of taking on the feelings of others around me. I still do but less so with self awareness, holding space, and daily practice. Of course, this is both a gift as well as a curse in some ways.

If the surrounding emotional hygiene and feelings are “good” or helpful, then it’s great.

If it’s “bad” or unhelpful, then it can be painful and emotionally draining.

The danger of taking on these “unhelpful feelings” of others is that if we are not careful, it can become our own feelings and unconsciously, influence other domains of our lives.

I wonder if you can relate or see it in the people we care for.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Feelings have an input and an output function

Feelings can be very useful as a way to gather information, but it can also be very useful to motivate, activate or fuel actions. One is an “input” function. The other is an “output” function.

When we use it to take action or as an “output” function, the feelings become more “emotive” and tend to “stick” to us.

So be careful about which feelings we decide to use when we take action.

If we use frustration, then the feelings of frustration may “stick” to us.

If we use anger, then the feelings of anger may “stick” to us.

If we use punitive feelings, doubt or fear, then those feelings may “stick” to us too.

So what if we can use feelings of care, hope, curiosity, generosity, kindness, compassion or gratitude more often to take action.

How will that change our emotional landscape?

How will that change the emotional landscape for our patients?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Which type of empathy do you have in your toolbox

 “Lived experience” or emotional empathy is like a sponge or a conductor.  It’s great for discharging or drain the negative emotions of others.  I think this is particularly helpful for intense emotion crises where a “rapid relief” is required.  It’s main weakness is that the saturation point of the sponge is not going to be limitless. 

Compassionate empathy is where one is able to use another more compelling feeling like care, hope, possibilities and kindness, to wrap up or displace the negative emotions of others.  

Cognitive empathy is where one is able to use intellectual perspective shifting to intellectually empathize with others, and help them to navigate out of the unhelpful situation. 

Each has its pros and cons. 

Which one or ones are in your toolbox as a Family Doctor?