Emotional Agility

Embracing Change with the Essence of Emotional Agility

Life is like being made more stunning because of the emotional train. It’s not just the outside stuff but also how we feel inside. Ever wondered how not just to overcome these changes but actually feel good about them?

Well, the usual ways don’t always work. Ignoring or hiding how you feel can make things trickier, even hopeless. You need a powerful way to deal with change, one that understands and makes peace with your feelings.

That’s where emotional agility comes in. It is not magic, but it can help you understand and use your feelings to make life better, whether in work, relationship, study, or anything else that comes into your life.

But first, let’s learn what precisely emotional agility is.

What is Emotional Agility?

According to Susan David, Ph.D., Harvard psychologist, the skills of emotional agility allow you to recognize what you’re feeling, understand what it is, not be driven by it, be more intentional, and, ultimately, close the gap between the things you’re trying to do and the outcomes.”

In short, emotional agility is the ability to be flexible with thoughts and feelings in order to have an optimal response to the many different situations you find yourself in every day. If you can’t be flexible, you may be practicing what’s called emotional rigidity.

Acting positive while ignoring your true feelings is not a good way. This habit of “putting on a smiley face” makes it easy for people to become superficial and freeze their emotions. This will lead to the problem and negative emotions remaining, not being resolved completely, and thus causing unnecessary consequences.

Susan explains that emotional agility revolves around four main ideas:

  • Showing Up: Be brave enough to confront your genuine emotions, whether they’re positive or negative.
  • Stepping Out: Avoid restricting yourself, your emotions, or your thoughts in a confined space. Instead, take action, step out, and embrace potential opportunities.
  • Walking Your Why: Trust your intuition to guide your true determination, resilience, and effectiveness.
  • Moving On: Strive for a balanced life and keep progressing. Take impactful actions that can serve as valuable lessons.

Read more: Self-Compassion Exercises on the Path to Self-Love.

The Role of Emotional Agility

Having fixed beliefs about ‘good and bad’ emotions can lead you to be judgemental and reduce your compassion for yourself and others; it makes you less resilient in the face of life’s challenges.

All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do.

Emotional agility is a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviors to live in ways that align with your intentions and values.

For example, when you have to face too many obstacles, you might feel stressed and want to give up. But with strong emotional agility, it lead you to have a positive thought that you are willing to take on new challenges.

It means you can approach negative thoughts and feelings in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way by developing a powerful skill called emotional agility.

This ability to manage your thoughts and feelings can help you alleviate stress, reduce errors, and become more creative.

So, keep in mind that. Negativity is normal. You, me, or anyone else will go through negative feelings at least once in life. It is simply part of the human condition!

Instead of trying to deny negative emotions, you take advantage of emotional agility to create a new “key” to “open” your emotional soul and use it as guidance towards a life that aligns with your true self.

Read more: Overcoming Plateaus When Feeling Stuck in Therapy.

Emotional Agility At Work

As you know, fulfillment and flourishing in your personal life do not come from doing what other people say is right for you but from aligning more of what you do, minute to minute, with your deepest values.

The same is true at work!

Agree that you need to accept certain constraints in exchange for a paycheck.

However, employment is not bondage, and employees are not chattel.

With that said, you can use the techniques of emotional agility to shape your professional life rather than having it shape you.

In simple terms, emotional rigidity means having difficulty understanding or respecting someone else’s feelings and perspectives. It also involves not showing empathy when something happens.

This can be bad for the workplace because it:

  • Creates stress and anxiety.
  • Makes the work environment toxic.
  • Causes anger problems.
  • This can lead employees to feel depressed.
  • Damages the positive culture at work.
  • Hampers relationships in the workplace.

Overcoming toxic positivity and emotional rigidity is crucial for building resilience in work and life. Emotional agility, by encouraging behavioral change, enables you to let go of negative thoughts and generate positive energy to stay motivated. It also aims to strike a balance between your work and personal lives.

Read more: Tips to manage stress and pressure for college students.

How Can You Improve Your Emotional Agility?

Building emotional agility involves developing self-awareness, and understanding your emotions, and learning how to regulate and express them appropriately. Here are some ways to help you improve emotional agility:

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. This can help you become more aware of your emotions and respond to them in a healthier way.

Small Tips to Gain Mindfulness:

  • Start Simple: You don’t need to be a meditation guru. Start with a few minutes a day.
  • Focus on Your Breath: Close your eyes and take deep breaths.
  • Observe Without Judgment: being a curious observer of your own mind, even if it is good or bad.
  • Use Reminders: stick with it in daily habits, like brushing your teeth. This helps make it a regular part of your routine.

2. Embrace Your Emotions

Embracing your emotions is a  goal key step in improving emotional agility. Instead of pushing feelings away, you need to take the time to feel and accept yourself and recognize what you need to increase emotional resilience.

Plus, it helps you handle tough situations with more thoughtfulness instead of reacting on impulse.

Tips to Embrace Your Emotions:

  • Feel Without Judgment: Let yourself feel all the feelings without saying they’re good or bad.
  • Navigate Discomfort: It’s not about avoiding tough feelings but getting through them with flexibility.
  • Build Self-Awareness and self-care: Recognize and accept your emotions to better understand yourself.

3. Challenge your thoughts

Our thoughts can heavily influence our emotions. Challenge negative or irrational thoughts and replace them with more positive, realistic ones.

When you actively question your thoughts, it will turn on a light in your mind. You become more aware of what you’re thinking and feeling, making it easier to deal with tough emotions.

Tips for Challenging Thoughts:

  • Question Yourself: Ask, “Is this thought really true?” Challenge it a bit.
  • Stay Open-Minded: Be willing to see things from different angles.
  • Embrace Nuance: Life is not just black or white. Accepting the shades of gray helps you handle emotions better.

Read more: Why Do I Feel So Empty? Exploring the Roots of Emotional Void

4. Acceptance of Uncertainty

Learn to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity. Life is full of uncertainties, and developing resilience in the face of the unknown can enhance your emotional agility.

5. Use effective coping strategies

Developing healthy coping strategies such as a balanced diet, exercise, journaling,  or talking to a trusted friend can positively impact your emotional state.

6. Practice self-compassion

Be kind and understanding towards yourself, especially during challenging times. Recognize that it’s okay to feel emotions and that everyone makes mistakes.

Read more: How to Practice Self-Compassion: Tips and Techniques

7. Learn from Setbacks

View challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth. Reflect on what you can learn from difficult experiences and how you can use that knowledge in the future. Besides, reframe failures as experiences that can help you become emotionally agile.

Building emotional agility is an ongoing process that involves self-reflection, practice, and a commitment to personal growth. By incorporating these strategies into your daily life, you can enhance your emotional well-being and become more adaptable in the face of life’s challenges.

“Remember that improving emotional agility takes time and practice so be patient with yourself and keep working on it.”

Final Thought

The ultimate goal of emotional flexibility is to help you recognize and firmly accept challenges as well as seize growth opportunities throughout your life’s journey.​

Emotional agility isn’t about being ‘positive’ all the time. It’s about being genuine, even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s accepting all our emotions as valid parts of our experience.

Ultimately, emotional agility enables us to live authentically, flexibly, and harmoniously with our values.

Remember, even though emotions may rise and fall like tides, you are always the captain, with full authority to steer and decide where your life’s ship will dock.