Emotional Agility

We speak roughly 16000 words a day - many more unspoken ones course through our minds. Most likely not facts but evaluations judgements and often with a mixture of our own emotions. Sometimes these are helpful but often they are negative and may be obstructive.

Often we get hooked by these negative thoughts and begin treating them as facts. They can affect: our leadership style, communication and how we feel about ourseves, our colleagues and family.

Recognize your patterns

If you wish to improve your emotional agility the first thing is to notice you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts are merely thoughts and the stories you are retelling yourself can cause your thinking to become rigid and repetitive.

Your attitude toward colleagues, ideas and plans may be adversely affected by similar experiences in the past. Frustrations may develop because self recriminations are played like a broken record.

Label your thoughts

Recognizing that thoughts and emotions have hooked you and they are driving you without the chance to explore them can be a breakthrough. The next stage may be labelling them. this allows you to see your thoughts for what they are merely thoughts. 

Increasingly scientific evidence is showing that straightforward mindfulness practice and being aware of our own thinking not only improves behaviours but also promotes beneficial biological changes in the brain at a cellular level.Pausing to become aware of our thoughts and not instantly acting on them may slow down our reactivity. This gives us the chance of labelling them andto see thoughts and feelings for what they are: transient and not always helpful.

Accept them and live with what is.

If I tell you not to think of a polar bear more than likely the first thing you will think of is a polar bear and it may be difficult to shift it from your mind. Similarly with thoughts and feelings – if you try and to shut out your negative thoughts you are likely to act in a similar vein. Alternatively if you are able to pause, accept the thought and label it you are likely to react in a more measured way and produce the result you want not to build on the negativity.

Its impossible to block out negative thoughts and emotions. We talk to ourselves more than we talk to even the people we are closest to and inevitably part of that chatter will be negative.The quicker we are able to: recognize; accept and label the thought the less it is likely to affect us and the quicker we can move on to actions that support our objectives rather than undermine them. 


Know your values

We live by our values on a daily basis often without knowing what they are. They have developed as we have grown and matured and living with them daily we don’t recognize or consciously adhere to them. If however we act on the negative thoughts and feelings we inevitably have and compromise our values we may feel bad about it afterwards and our negative feelings towards ourselves may develop. 

Know your own values and spend time getting to know your own mind. Once you have done this you are able to recognize thoughts and emotions as exactly that, label them and become more aware of our feelings, accept them and consider them and then act in accordance with our values and not be dictated to by our thoughts.

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