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Blog: Don’t Act Right Away When You’re Feeling Strong Emotions

By Dr. Laura on August 22, 2023
Woman in cream cardigan closes her eyes and sits on a couch in a white living room

If I got a thousand dollars every time I heard a caller say, “I thought Dr. Laura hated feelings,” I could go on a nice, long vacation. But I don’t hate feelings; I just want you to avoid acting on them instantly.

 

Instant Reactions Aren’t Beneficial for You

The average person has more than 400 emotional experiences every day. The problem is that our brains are hard-wired to give emotions the upper hand over logic and rational thought,” according to Dr. Travis Bradberry in his article, “Is Emotional Intelligence a Good Measure of Leadership Ability?” for the Society for Human Resources Management. 

This may come from the evolutionary need for self-preservation. If we categorize an emotion and take it as truth, it results in a quick reaction.  

Have you seen a meerkat before? These mammals take turns looking out for predators from outside the little holes they dig. They stand at attention and squeak loudly at the slightest indication of danger. They may not be seeing anything, but if they hear something... 

You may not even realize that’s exactly how you're behaving. Instead of squeaking, you’ll say, 'I was offended and now my feelings are hurt! They don't like me. I can tell they're judging me.’ Just like a meerkat, you sense danger and instantly react. 

 

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Sit with Your Emotions

Marinate in the particular emotion you’re feeling before deciding to act on it. Using rational and logical thought will help you avoid making a choice you’ll later regret. Even better, you won't need to call me asking how to fix the mess you’ve made. 

Let’s say a long-time friend upset you. Consider the following:  

‘Do I really believe they don't have my interest at heart? Have they ever let me down? Should I call Dr. Laura and ask if I should leave them behind over one incident? Maybe I misunderstood. Maybe they had stomach cramps!’ 

Believe it or not, you don't have to react to feelings as you have them. Let the emotions just exist. Be aware of them, notice them, but do not judge nor try to fix them. Feelings will eventually pass. If you obsess too much, then you have no room for the 399 other emotions you’ll have today. 

 


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