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In the book Emotional Agility, author Susan David, discusses the benefit of flexible thinking over rigid thinking. The following content are quotes from this book, I highly recommend you read. Available from Amazon.

Emotional agility is not about controlling your thoughts, or forcing yourself into thinking more positively. Because research shows that trying to get people to change thoughts from say, the negative – “I’m going to screw up this presentation” – to the positive – “You’ll see. I’ll ace it!” – usually doesn’t work, and can actually be counterproductive.

Emotional agility is about loosening up, calming down and living with more intention. It’s about choosing how you’ll respond to your emotional warning system. It supports the approached described by Viktor Frankl, the psychiatrist who survived a Nazi death camp and went on to write Man’s Search for Meaning, on leading a more meaningful life, a life in which our human potential can be fulfilled.:

Between stimulus and response there is a space he wrote. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

People with emotional agility still experience anger, or sadness but they face these with curiosity, self-compassion and acceptance.

Trying to correct troubling thoughts and feelings leads us to obsess unproductively on them. Trying to smother them can lead to a range of ills from ‘busy work’ to any number of self-soothing addictions. And trying to change them from ‘negative’ to ‘positive’ is an almost sure-fire way to feel worse.

Emotional agility is a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours so that you can live in ways that align with your intentions and values. The process isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionate, an then moving past them to make big things happen in your life.

4 movements to emotional agility

  1. Showing up: 80% of success is simply showing up. In this context, it means facing your emotions, thoughts and behaviours willingly with curiosity and kindness.
  2. Stepping Out: After facing your thoughts and emotions, the next step is detaching from and observing them to see them for that they are – just thoughts and emotions. Detached observation keeps our transient mental experiences from controlling us. The broader view we gain by stepping out means learning to see yourself as the chessboard, filled with possibilities, rather than as any one piece on the board, confined to certain preordained moves.
  3. Walking Your Why: Your core values provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction.
  4. Moving On:
    1. The Tiny Tweaks Principle: Small deliberate tweaks infused with your core values can make a huge difference in your life.
    2. The See-Saw Principle: We need to find balance between challenge and competence, so we are neither complacent nor overwhelmed, but excited, enthusiastic and and invigorated by challenges.

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The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven

Acceptance is a pre-requisite for change

When we stop fighting what is, we can move on to efforts that will be more constructive and more rewarding.

Self-compassion is associated with healthy behaviours such as eating right, exercising, slipping well and managing stress during tough times. It even strengthens your immune system.

In the interest of your emotional agility, here’s my advice: keep your eyes on your own work.

Journalling – it helps you to create distance between the thinker and the thought, the feeler and the feeling,. This allows you to gain a new perspective, unhook and move forward.

It helps you step out from your experience and gain a new perspective on it.