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Feelings Some Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Dealing with Emotional Arousal Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. September 29, 2002 The Portable Mentor.

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Presentation on theme: "Feelings Some Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Dealing with Emotional Arousal Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. September 29, 2002 The Portable Mentor."— Presentation transcript:

1 Feelings Some Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Dealing with Emotional Arousal Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. September 29, 2002 The Portable Mentor Series SM SOMCPress

2 Why should I pay attention to this presentation? To a remarkable—sometimes alarming—degree, our feelings drive our lives. Many of us neither understand them nor manage them as well as we should. Most of us either take feelings too seriously or not seriously enough. This presentation will describe a practical foundation for a more effective approach to dealing with feelings—yours and others’. Managing feelings more effectively will improve the quality of our lives. My parents illustrated polar contrasts in emotive demonstration. Dad would just throw the church mail away unopened.

3 What are some effective guidelines for dealing with feelings? Take feelings very seriously. Don’t take feelings too seriously. Take time to recognize underlying feelings. Remember that all feelings are legitimate. Express your feelings and invite others to do the same. Just ignore some feelings. Give feelings time. Recruit feelings to your cause. Exterminate dangerous feelings. Learn to predict how others will feel. Minimize rumination. Milk good feelings for all they are worth. Practice emotional detachment. Try to understand feelings. Give strong feelings wide berth. Cut aroused people some slack (but not too much). Look for contamination. Be prepared for widely varying sensitivities. Learn to let go. Know when to give up. Just recalling good feelings is a powerful motivator. My son’s miniature hole-in-one. The next night...

4 Take feelings very seriously. Why should I? –Feelings are a factor in every interaction. –Feelings often prompt impulsive, regrettable actions. –Feelings are emotional landmines. –Feelings often lead to misunderstandings. –Learning—desirable and undesirable—is enhanced by emotional arousal. How can I? –Always consider them up front. –Monitor your own feelings, and be brutally honest. –Ask others how they feel, and create an environment of openness. –Acknowledge them. –Avoid communication when either party is emotionally aroused or unprepared. A physician came in to berate me for consulting in her mother’s case.

5 Don’t take feelings too seriously. Why should I? –Feelings can hold you hostage. –Feelings are ephemeral. –They are often misleading. –They can sometimes be attenuated or modified. –They are huge de- motivators. How can I? –Identify all of the available options. –Pick the best option. –Implement the best option in spite of how you (or others) feel. –Explain why you are going ahead in spite of everyone’s feelings. –Proper behavior produces good feelings. A patient misinterpreted my sighing. Another patient drew the wrong conclusion about Lysol.

6 Accept all feelings as legitimate. Why should I? –Because they are. –Every feeling is a product of perception, sensitivity and environment. –Anyone in the same exact circumstances would feel the same way. –You won’t make any progress until you do. –Because that’s what the Golden Rule says you should do. How can I? –Recognize that a feeling is only a feeling. –Don’t confuse feelings with considered positions. –It’s not how we feel but what we do that matters. –Say, “I can see how you might feel that way,” and mean it. –Clarify instead of assuming that you know and understand others’ feelings. It’s best to ask others how they feel. A woman’s estranged husband shot himself.

7 Practice emotional detachment. Why should I? –Emotional arousal will distort your perceptions, garble your message and make you miserable. –Aroused, you will behave impulsively instead of deliberately. –Our greatest regrets usually originate from moments of passionate misdirection. –Overreaction is epidemic in our culture –Emotional confrontation can be life-threatening. How can I? –Monitor your own emotional arousal constantly. –Adopt the observer role in volatile situations. –Pray before entering the lions’ den (and follow a script). –Remind yourself that giving way to emotional storms amplifies strong feelings. –When you become emotionally aroused, secure the hatches and dive. A Jimmy Swaggart-type evangelist always asked me to get the crowd going. He killed his lover in a jealous rage.

8 Cut aroused people some slack (but not too much). Why should I? –No one is perfect; we all need grace and forgiveness. –The excessive toleration of emotional outbursts is neither kind nor helpful. –It encourages additional outbursts and a dangerous escalation of out-of-control thought and behavior. –Misbehavior—like a foul gas—expands until it is contained. How can I? –Consider whether there is a pattern of emotional outbursts. –Is the transgressor truly sorry and repentant, or just saying what others want to hear? –Assess the person’s net worth to your life or to the organization. –Document misbehavior. –Confront appropriately. –Consider a group intervention. Everybody needs to be contained. Some need more containment than others. Ed tied himself in the pulpit.

9 What have I learned? Feelings are both more and less important that we might think. After our basic needs are met, feelings become the prime drivers in our lives. Misunderstood or mismanaged, feelings regularly get us into trouble or cause us distress. Understanding and managing feelings effectively is an important key to interpersonal and organizational success. Effective strategies for dealing with feelings exist, and they can be learned and mastered with intent and practice. A patient refused to do anything I recommended, but became furious when I fired her.

10 Where can I learn more? Stewart, Kendall L, “Feelings: Some Practical Guidelines for Understanding and Dealing with Emotional Arousal,” A SOMC White Paper. SOMCPress, Stewart, Kendall L, “Feelings,” The Portable Mentor Presentation Series, SOMC Press, (This presentation can be downloaded from the SOMCPress page at Stewart, Kendall L. “Dealing With Negative People,” A SOMC White Paper, SOMCPress, Stewart, Kendall L. The Portable Mentor for Organizational Leaders, SOMCPress, (In Press)

11 How can we contact you? Kendall L. Stewart, M.D. Medical Director Southern Ohio Medical Center th Street Portsmouth, Ohio

12 Southern Ohio Medical Center Safety  Quality Quality  Service Service  Relationships Relationships  Performance Performance  What questions do you have?


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