The term “agility” commonly denotes one’s physical ability to move fast and effortlessly. An agile person is known for his dexterity and nimbleness in physical movement. Being emotionally agile refers to the ability to manage thoughts, emotions and the mental stories we tell ourselves.
Our inner world – the thoughts, emotions and our stories drives every aspect of our lives. Emotions are a naturally occurring process in human beings which helps us communicate with others and ourselves too. The stories we tell ourselves become powerful predictors of our future behaviour. We learn to bottle up emotions like anger, sadness and grief, block and push them away leading us to become rigid emotionally and preventing us from leading effective lives. The critical aspect of our emotional wellbeing is to go beyond this struggle with our own emotions and navigate the world as it is and not how it should be.
Why is it important to be emotionally agile?
Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and a Holocaust survivor quotes “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”
In certain difficult situations we tend to let our actions get affected by our thoughts, emotions and stories. If we pause and reflect on what we are experiencing by not ignoring or getting caught in our emotions in that situation, we can work towards a better response that would be closer to our values. Emotional agility can help us be in charge of our emotions rather than being controlled by them.
How do we become agile emotionally?
- Become aware of the emotion:
Staying positive and strong is the norm in our society when faced with a difficult situation. Become aware of the emotion with an open mind without ignoring it or getting entangled in it. For eg: When you are mindful of your anger you will be able to observe it with greater sensitivity and emotional clarity which will help you identify the origin of the emotion too. Labelling the emotion helps you examine it closely and respond to it based on your guiding values.
- Accept with compassion and courage:
We tend to become critical when we are going through difficult emotions and treat our thoughts as facts. Having a calm approach when looking at our difficult thoughts and emotions is not easy, but with practice, you can start examining them with curiosity and compassion. We need to detach from the situation without invalidating our feelings to get an objective view. Identify the emotional triggers and walk that courageous path of the discomfort of these emotions to reflect and respond in an appropriate manner.
- Identify the “Why”
Difficult emotions are part of our lives and an inescapable part of our human experience. Identify the “why” of whatever you are doing, and let that be the motivation that informs your decisions and actions. Whenever you make choices based on the things that you value you are more likely to derive long-term, sustainable meaning from your life.
- Work towards your goal:
Being happy and feeling good is an unrealistic goal we grow up to aim for all our living years. Become aware of both good and unhelpful emotions, identify a few small changes that you can integrate into already-formed habits, and then work your way towards goals, making one small change at a time that aligns with your core values.
Emotional agility is a critical skill required to thrive and build resilience to sustain us in this uncertain world.
If you are looking to work on getting congruent with your thoughts, emotions and actions do reach out to us and share. We are here to listen.
AUTHOR: Smitha, Lead Counsellor
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