My Take on a Book Review #8 – Emotional Agility – Susan David

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I heard about this book by listening to Lewis Howe’s podcast “The School of Greatness” (which I talked about in this blog post).  He interviewed Susan David and they talked a lot about how important it is to pay attention to your emotions and how doing so can help you succeed in work and life.  Sounded interesting…so I read her book…and it was really good!

She has a lot of similarities to Brene Brown (who you know I love!…see here, here, and here!).  They both talk a lot about being present, being vulnerable, facing difficult emotions/situations instead of bottling them up, etc.

Susan’s definition of emotional agility is that it’s “a process that allows you to be in the moment, changing or maintaining your behaviours to live in ways that align with your intentions and values”.  It’s not about ignoring difficult emotions, but about holding these emotions loosely, facing them, and then moving on.

There are 4 essential movements of social agility:
1. Showing up – face your thoughts, emotions, behaviours willingly with curiosity and kindness (she talks a lot in this book about being kind to yourself…even when you’re not your best self)
2. Stepping out – detach from & observe the emotions to see them for what they are – just thoughts.
3. Walking your why – your core values will provide the compass that keeps you moving in the right direction.
4. Moving on – chasing courage over comfort, challenge yourself, no regrets.

A quote I liked about compassion  “it gives us the freedom to redefine ourselves as well as the all-important freedom to fail, which contains within it the freedom to take the risks that allow us to be truly creative”.

There have been tons of studies done that show documenting your emotions (i.e. truthfully writing down the difficult situations/emotions you’ve been in) is a tremendously helpful way to deal with stress, anxiety, & loss.  She gives many examples of these studies and the results were impressive.  I would’ve never thought this could be so powerful.
“The point is that those thoughts are now out of you and on the page.  You’ve begun the process of “stepping out” from your experience to gain perspective on it”.  Makes sense to me!

While you’re working on “stepping out”, she gives tips on helping you be more mindful.  If you’re like me, your mind never stops and it’s really hard to try and make it stop.  Here are some tips to help you concentrate…
– Pick an object (a flower, your toe) and focus on it for one minute.  Really look at it…as if you’re looking at it for the first time.
– Rework a routine.  Pick something you do every day and take for granted (making coffee, brushing your teeth).  Focus on each step and action.  Be fully aware.
– Really listen.  Pick a piece of music and really tune in, listen like it’s the first music you’ve ever heard.

Walking your why is about identifying your values.  Easier said than done!  Here are a few tips to help get you started in figuring out what your values are!
– Deep down, what matters to me?
– What relationships do I want to build?
– What do I want my life to be about?
– How do I feel most of the time…what kinds of situations make me feel the most vital?
– If all the stress and anxiety in my life were suddenly gone, what would my life look like? What things would I persue?

Moving on isn’t just about leaving that “stuff” in the past, but also about getting the right balance between challenge and competence.  We don’t want to be overwhelmed or underwhelmed…we need the right amount of “whelmed”.

The ultimate test for any action should be…is this going to get me where I want to be?  It may require you to choose courage over comfort.  Or have that difficult conversation.  If you don’t, you allow misery and misunderstanding to exist/thrive.  Read that again!  There’s definitely some truth there!

This was an interesting book to read.  Lots of “hmmm” moments and quotes.  Definitely one you should put on your list!

 

 

 

 

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