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If you’ve had an exaggerated reaction to something relatively small in the past year, you are not alone. We all juggle so much – mentally and emotionally – that it can be difficult to constantly process everything that comes in our way. This can be anything from major threats – like the global pandemic, racial injustice and violence, and economic / financial insecurity – to average everyday harassment.
When faced with so much at once, it’s easy to have big, emotional reactions to everything, even the smaller things. One way to deal with this is to increase your emotional agility. Here are three tips for that.
What is Emotional Agility?
If you’ve never heard of “emotional agility” it may be because it only existed since 2013, when leadership trainers Dr. Susan David and Christina Congleton first coined the term in on Harvard Business Review items. Basically, emotional agility is exactly what it sounds like: having the ability and abilities to think about problems and emotions that arise in times of complexity and change.
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As David in a last episode of the Armchair Expert podcastThere are three key skills that you can practice to improve your emotional agility in uncertain times: acceptance, compassion, and curiosity. According to Vanessa Loder, a former Wall Street and Silicon Valley executive who now works as a mindfulness consultant, there are a few ways you can improve any of these crucial skills.
According to Loder in an article for MindBodyGreenEmotional agility begins with realizing that you are not your feelings. you writes::
Labeling your thoughts and feelings is a powerful way of accepting what you are feeling without being overtaken by it. When you say, “I am sad,” you are merging with sadness. It is your identity now. You are the gray cloud of sadness. If you say; “I notice that I am sad”, now you are more of an observer. You are heaven The gray cloud of sadness just pulls through.
After determining how you are feeling, respond to the emotions with compassion. Per loder::
Labeling your emotions in more detail will help you understand the cause of those emotions and what to do about them. When loneliness lies beneath your stress levels, you may crave more intimacy and connectedness, so calling a friend is important. On the other hand, if disappointment is behind your stress, it may be time to have a difficult conversation with your boss or express your disappointment to someone.
Be curious about why your emotions elicit a particular response. Loder says the next time you process a difficult emotion, ask yourself, “What is this emotion trying to tell me that is important to me right now?” you goes on to explain::
If your emotion is telling you that you are upset with your boss or co-worker, it doesn’t mean you need to scold your boss or hold back your anger and put on a happy face. As David says, “Emotions are data, not instructions.” Instead, ask what can bring you closer to creating the career and life you love. Be curious about what value this emotion indicates to you. That is the power of our feelings; They are guides to our deeper truth.
Yes, these strategies take some time and practice because let’s face it: it seems a lot easier to have a generic Big Feelings reaction to anything and get excited, but really, we’re just adding extra stress to our plate, if we do that.