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Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life” by Susan David.

“Emotional Agility” is a guide to understanding and managing our emotions, which in turn helps us navigate life’s ups and downs more effectively. Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, developed the concept to describe the process of becoming aware of our feelings, accepting them, and then choosing actions that align with our values.

The Power of Emotional Agility

The core idea behind emotional agility is that our emotions are data, not directives. They provide information about what we’re experiencing but don’t have to dictate our actions. This is a powerful shift in perspective, as it allows us to respond to our emotions thoughtfully rather than reacting impulsively.

The Four Steps to Emotional Agility

David lays out a four-step process for developing emotional agility:

  1. Showing Up: This involves facing into your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours willingly, with curiosity and kindness.

  2. Stepping Out: This is a process of detaching from and observing your thoughts and feelings to see them for what they are—just thoughts, just feelings.

  3. Walking Your Why: This is about identifying and acting on the values that truly matter to you.

  4. Moving On: This involves making small changes in your mindset, motivation, and habits to align your actions with your values.

The Role of Emotional Agility in Changing Reactionary Behaviour

Emotional agility can be particularly useful in managing triggers and changing reactionary behaviour. By becoming more aware of our emotions and the triggers that set them off, we can choose how we want to respond rather than reacting impulsively.

For instance, if you’re triggered by criticism, you might notice feelings of defensiveness rising. With emotional agility, you can step back, recognise this as a natural reaction to feeling threatened, and then choose a more constructive response, such as asking for clarification or considering how the feedback aligns with your values.

Creating Lasting Change with Emotional Agility

“Emotional Agility” provides practical strategies for creating lasting change in our lives. David emphasises that this isn’t about suppressing negative emotions or forcing positivity. Instead, it’s about acknowledging all our emotions — even the difficult ones — and using them as a guide towards living a life that aligns with our values.

Ultimately, emotional agility is a lifelong practice. It’s about continually tuning into our emotions, understanding what they’re telling us, and making conscious choices about how we want to respond. By doing so, we can become less reactive and more responsive, leading to greater emotional health, resilience, and overall well-being.

So, embark on the journey of emotional agility and unlock the potential to transform your reactions and live in harmony with your emotions.

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