Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David 1

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We fight and resist our negative emotions. We strive, struggle, and hustle to feel our positive ones.  By accepting and navigating all of our emotions, particularly the difficult ones, we start to develop emotional agility. 


Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David 2

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A growing body of research shows that emotional rigidity – getting hooked by thoughts, feelings and behaviors that don’t serve us is associated with a range of psychological ills, including depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, emotional agility—being flexible with your thoughts and feelings so that you can respond optimally to every day situations – key to well being and success. 

 One recent study found that effect off multitasking on people’s performance was actually comparable to driving drunk.  Trying to correct trolling thoughts and feelings leads to us obsess unproductively on them. Trying to smother them can lead to range of ills from busywork to any number of self soothing addictions. And trying to change them from negative to positive is an almost surefire way to feel worse.  While we often accept the statements bubbling from within this river of incessant chatter as being factual, most are actually a complex mixture of evaluations and judgements, intensified by our emotions.  Emotional agility means being aware and accepting of all your emotions, even learning from the most difficult ones. Research shows that attempting to minimize or ignore thoughts and emotions only serves to amplify them.  As with every hero’s journey, our movement toward a better life begins with showing up. But that doesn’t mean we have to smite or slay all the demons.  In learning to see and accept your full self: warts and all, it helps to remember one thing that all our favorite heroes and heroines have in common: they’re far from perfect. Perfection is one dimensional, unrealistic, boring. That’s why the most engaging protagonists have flaws or a dark side, and why truly interesting villains have enough humanity that we at least partly identify with them.   One of the greatest paradoxes of human experience is that we can’t change ourselves or our circumstances until we accept what exists right now. This means giving permission for the world to be as it is, because it’s only when we stop trying to control the universe that we make peace with it.  You can’t have real self-compassion without first facing the truth about who you are and what you feel. It’s when we lack compassion that we are more likely to develop false bravado and grandiose overconfidence in an effort to deny the possibility of failure. When we lack compassion we see the world as just as unforgiving as we are, so the very idea of failure is crippling  There’s a misconception that you need to be tough on yourself to maintain your edge. But people who are more accepting of their own failures may actually be more motivated to improve.  Self acceptance usually takes a big hit anytime we start making comparisons.  Looking to someone whose accomplishments are just notch or two above your own might be inspiring, but judging yourself against a true superstar or a once in a life time genius can be devastating. That’s in part because we tend to focus on on the end result rather than what it takes to get there.  Emotional   agility means having any number troubling thoughts or emotions and still managing to act in a way that serves you how you most want to live.  Identifying what you value and acting on it is not always easy. We’re constantly bombarded with messages— from culture, advertisers, our upbringing, our religious training, and our families, friends, and peers— about what is important and what makes us worthy.  To make decisions that much up with the way you hope to live going forward, you have to be in touch with the things that matter to you so you can use them as signposts.   Making hard choices can actually be liberating because it helps  you define who you truly are and demothe painnstrates the power we all have to shape our lives. If you can willingly accept the pain associated with giving up the road not taken, you can embrace the decision you did make and move forward with clarity.  Studies from many different fields have demonstrated that small shifts over time can dramatically enhance your ability to thr, and one thae… Each little tweak may not like like much on its own, but think of them as frames in  movie. If you alter each frame, one at a time and put them altogether you’ll end up with a totally different film, and one that tells a totally different story.  A malleable sense of self is a cornerstone of emotional agility.  To stay truly alive, we need to choose courage over comfort, so that we keep growing, climbing and challenging ourselves, and that means not getting stuck thinking we’ve found heaven when we’re simply sitting on the nearest plateau.  It’s risk y and scary to be the only one voicing a dissenting or unpopular opinion. But if you’re now willing to show up to the difficult feeling of being in the minority, you’ll never be heard.  Autonomy is a bedrock element of lifelong thriving and is critical to children’s moral development. Autonomy means self governance, or rule by the self, and psychological terms, an autonomous person lives according to the choices her or she makes.  

Emotional agility is the absence of pretense and performance, which gives your actions greater because they emanated from your core values and core strength, something solid and genuine and real.  

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