Agility Definition: The ability to move quickly and easily.
So what does that mean about emotional agility?
Susan David, author of “Emotional Agility”, defines it as: a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours so that you can live in ways that align with your intentions and values. The process isn’t about ignoring difficult emotions and thoughts. It’s about holding those emotions and thoughts loosely, facing them courageously and compassionately, and then moving past them to make big things happen in your life.
It’s hard not to think, “Yes! Yes! I want that,” when you read it.
Many of us want big things to happen in our lives. What we don’t realise is how much our emotional agility, or lack thereof, is getting in the way.
One of the first components of having emotional agility is the awareness of when we got hooked or stuck in certain emotions, and how we respond to those hooks. Typically we show up to these thoughts and emotions by doing one of these:
We bottle, we brood, or we push them aside. Instead, Susan David invites us to SHOW UP to each and everyone one of our thoughts and emotions--to accept them and breathe into and through them.
After we have shown up, next we need to STEP OUT. Not step out and away from the emotions, but to step out so that we can see the situation more clearly. She encourages us again and again to “be the thinker, not the thought.” By taking the meta-view we can see the situation with perspective and recognize that a feeling isn’t fate.
The third aspect of emotional agility is the ability to WALK YOUR WHY. We must watch the gaps between our emotions and our habits. We must look at where and how we are being driven by social contagion, old beliefs and habits that are no longer serving us, where and how we are living in the short-term rather than from the long-view. Do our behaviours show us moving toward or away from our values? Are we “walking our why”?
Finally, Susan David encourages us to MOVE ON. Once we’ve shown up, stepped up, and walked our why we need to keep moving forward. As one of my book circle members said today, “Learning means you’re alive.” Moving on takes various forms of learning. We can do so by changing our mindset, ensuring our motivations are coming from a “want to” rather than a “have to”, tweaking our habits, and regularly choosing to step beyond our comfort zone.
So to sum up, emotional agility means:
Susan David’s very last reminder in the book is to “Dance if you can.”
Are you ready to dance?