According to a new book, the key is “emotional agility”: being less rigid and more flexible with our thoughts and feelings.
- Monkey mind: We’ve spiraled off into a cascade of regret about the past, worry about the future, or judgments about ourselves.
- Old ideas: We’re repeating old thoughts and behaviors that no longer fit the current reality, like “I always choke in important situations” or “I’m not good enough for him.”
- Righteousness: Our need to be right leads to conflict with others, rather than forgiveness and understanding.
- Blaming thoughts for behaviors: Because we think certain things—“I always choke”—we feel compelled to take certain actions, like avoiding public speaking. We fail to recognize that we could choose a different path.
How to cultivate emotional agility
Instead, David might have tried to brush aside the guilt and smother it with five-star room service. But she was able to pause and step back from her feelings. One way to get some perspective on a difficult feeling is to use language—to say, “I’m having the thought that…I’m a bad mother” or “I’m having the emotion of…shame.” In one coaching exercise, David invites a group of participants to write their deepest insecurities on a name tag—“I’m boring” or “I’m unlovable”—and introduce themselves to everyone else, as if at a party. Somehow, putting our feelings into words gives them less power.