“Emotional Agility.” This is perhaps a term you haven’t heard of before.
But it’s time you familiarize yourself with it.
We live in a culture so intent on stripping us of our vulnerability. Society has consciously — and so relentlessly — hardwired us to be strong.
We are taught that showing any kind of negative emotion means we are weak, incapable, and wrong.
But what if we told you that this sense of “moral correctness” is actually ineffective?
This toxic positivity actually prevents you from acquiring the skills you need to deal with the “real world.”
So imagine something different.
What if we lived in a world where everyone is honest about how they feel? Where our emotions aren’t categorized between “good” or “bad.”
What if we were allowed, even encouraged to feel what we are feeling without being judged?
Psychologist Susan David perfectly explains why you need to stop trying to be positive all the time.
She suggests that this tyranny of toxic positivity has robbed us of the capability to properly deal with our emotions — affecting our daily actions, relationships, and ultimately, our happiness. That in fact, it has led us to constantly live in denial.
How can we fix this?
Watch her deeply-moving, humorous and insightful TED talk to know more about how emotional agility can help you lead a happier life.
The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage.
“The World Health Organization tells us that depression is now the single leading cause of disability globally — outstripping cancer, outstripping heart disease. And at a time of greater complexity, unprecedented technological, political and economic change, we are seeing how people’s tendency is more and more to lock down into rigid responses to their emotions.”
Anger, sadness, grief – just a few of the emotions we are constantly told not to feel.
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Naturally, we are predisposed to handle these emotions incorrectly. We respond by brooding on our feelings, letting it get stuck in our heads. Or we bottle them up and push them aside.
Why is this wrong?
“Normal, natural emotions are now seen as good or bad. And being positive has become a new form of moral correctness. People with cancer are automatically told to just stay positive. Women, to stop being so angry. And the list goes on. It’s a tyranny. It’s a tyranny of positivity. And it’s cruel. Unkind. And ineffective. And we do it to ourselves, and we do it to others.”
Dr. David believes that this response to negative emotion is unsustainable. Research shows that ignoring or suppressing these emotions only allow them to get stronger. And this “amplification” actually incapacitates us from dealing with “the world as it is, not as it should be.”
Emotional Agility and How It Can Change Your Life
“Research now shows that the radical acceptance of all of our emotions — even the messy, difficult ones — is the cornerstone to resilience, thriving, and true, authentic happiness.”
“Emotional Agility” is not just about accepting your emotions and getting rid of the preconceived notion to classify them as good or bad.
It’s about learning how to be accurate with what you feel.
Labeling our emotions accurately can help us understand the precise cause of our feelings. This allows us to activate what scientists call the “readiness potential” in our brain – the one that allows us to take actionable and concrete steps to move forward. Because ultimately, our emotions are data.
But more importantly, they are not “directives.”
We can control how our brains process the data.
“We own our emotions, they don’t own us. When we internalize the difference between how I feel in all my wisdom and what I do in a values-aligned action, we generate the pathway to our best selves via our emotions.”
Acknowledge your emotions, but never give them power.
Don’t say “I am angry.” That only implies that you are the emotion. Instead say, “I am noticing that I’m feeling angry.”
Emotional Agility is all about being open to every human emotion. It’s a skill that allows us to ask necessary questions like, “What is my emotion telling me?” “Which actions lead me to a happier outcome?” “Which actions will be negative to my life?”
It’s about dealing with your emotions using compassion, open curiosity, and the courage to take actionable and values-connected steps.
Ultimately, emotional agility allows us to see ourselves in a crystal-clear way, one that will lead us to our most authentic life.