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Debby Fisher: Diaries the Ultimate Tool for Emotional Management

Debby Fisher with RespectAbility Staff and Fellows smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Debby Fisher with RespectAbility Staff and Fall 2019 Fellows

Rockville, Maryland, Oct. 24 – Young adulthood is characterized by exploration and discovery; employment, housing, friends, partners are just a few of the main aspects of life in flux during the post-college years. Such fluidity in life can cause distress, explained Debby Fisher, PsyD, who spoke to the Fellows in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program last month. She expressed the usefulness of producing at least daily entries in a diary using whichever modality is most comfortable for you – drawing, writing, singing or listening to music – and keeping that diary with you at all times for assisting with understanding yourself and your emotions.

Fisher is well qualified to share emotional management tools as she is a trained psychologist and independent consultant. She has vast experience in both direct therapy with clients and helping implement system changes for nonprofit entities and large social service programs. She believes taking time to recognize the self and understanding how the self works is an important way to prompt change – from the inward out, as well as from the outside in.

To best keep track of emotions she recommends using an at-least daily entry in a diary. She said length of entry is not as important as consistent entries. She recommends keeping the diary or journal with you everywhere you go to allow for an entry at any time. A diary or a journal is a space to check in with yourself, with your emotional status. The benefit of a daily entry includes “parking” a recurrent feeling or thought that may be interfering with getting work done or living your life. You may also see a pattern or an issue persisting for which it may be time to seek professional help.

To optimize diary entries, she created the mnemonic: PULSE.

  • P – Present: Focus on what is happening right now.
  • U – Understand: Try to understand what you are feeling, what is happening, what you are reacting to.
  • L – Let it: Whether you are letting it be, letting it go or letting it in or out just letting it.
  • S – Senses: How are you engaging your sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.
  • E – Experience: Using all the above, allow yourself to feel and recognize what is important to you in this moment.

She explained that the power of understanding the presence of an emotion and what its impact is can help individuals take control of the emotion and not the emotion take control of themselves. She further explained that the emotions often are controlled by how a person interprets what the emotion is. An emotion caused by a negative event can be interpreted positively by one person and negatively by another.

Debby Fisher and Stevie Mays smile in front of the RespectAbility banner

Debby Fisher and Stevie Mays

For example, a person who is fired from a job. The negative view is if a person may feel losing a job is wrecking their life, entering a wormhole of negative emotion. A person with a positive outlook may take this as an opportunity to grow and have a career shift. While feeling emotion is inevitable, the impact of the emotion felt ultimately can be up to the individual.

The body’s physical response to an emotion may be the same for excitement, fear and rage. What the mind attributes as the cause of the physiological response reflects their interpretation of what is going on for them, which in turn, becomes the emotion one feels. Taking time to acknowledge your emotions can give you the ability to manage them and help you take charge of them. Fisher’s advice is crucial in helping create a sense of control in the lives of young adults during these important transitional years of their lives.


RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. This fall, eight Fellows have the opportunity to learn from a variety of guest speakers. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact [email protected] for more information.



Meet the Author

Stevie Mays

Stevie Mays has great passion and enthusiasm when working with and for the greater disability community, because they want to end the cycle of shame and taboo they felt with their own learning disabilities growing up.

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