So as I write this blog, I'm sitting at the table with three other adults who are also working and one adult cooking breakfast, with six children, under the age of 14, downstairs waiting to be called to eat...oh and while on vacation. SMDH. But if I have to write while on vacation since I missed you all last week, so be it. It's still relaxing and there is no place I'd rather be than here in Surf City, NC at the beach letting my fingers stroke my keyboard.
As I contemplated what I wanted to share with you this week, emotional agility kept creeping back into my mind because of a book I've been reading called, guess what?... "Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life" and because it is something I am personally working on. I find it fascinating how some people are just so even keel when they are in tough situations. It is like they never let them see them sweat if you catch my drift. However, I wonder just how much they are sweating internally.
Research shows that emotional rigidity is getting hooked by thoughts, feeling and behaviors that don't serve us. Emotional agility is being flexible with your thoughts and feelings so that you can respond effectively and optimally to your daily situations which is key to well-being and success.
Emotional agility is not about controlling your thoughts or forcing yourself to think more positively because it has been proven that that doesn't usually work and can actually be counterproductive. It is actually about loosening up, calming down, and living with more intention. It's about choosing how you will respond to your emotional warning system.
If your boss makes a change that upsets you and your response is to ignore your frustrations and anger while thinking it will go away eventually and you have other stuff to deal with, then you are a bottler. Bottlers try to unhook by pushing away emotions so they can get on with things. They are likely to push away unwanted feelings because those feelings are uncomfortable and distracting, or because they think that being anything less than bright and happy all the time is a sign of weakness, or a definite way to alienate those around them. I will tell you now that this is not me. LOL. But now that I've read this book, I do catch my emotions in the moment and think about what I'm doing with them. Am I bottling them?
If you're a bottler who hates work, you might try to rationalize away your negative feelings by telling yourself "At least I've got a job." If so, you're definitely are a bottler!
Bottling is usually done with the best intentions, and to the practical person it does feel productive. "Thinking positive," "forge forward," and "get on with it," we tell ourselves. And poof, just like that, the unwanted emotions seem to vanish. But really they've just gone underground and are ready to pop back up at any time, and usually with surprising and inappropriate intensity ginned up by the containment pressure they've been under. Hmmmmm.
Now listen up! Research has shown that bottling increases other people's blood pressure even if those people don't know that the bottler is bottling. Haha! I never thought of that. Did you?! Think about this, your bottling can cause someone else to have a heart attack. That someone else can be your significant other so be careful when you tell that person, "You just don't care!"
If you think long and hard about what you'd say to your boss, rehearsing the "I'll say..." and "he'll say..." lines over and over in your mind, then you are a brooder. When brooders are hooked by uncomfortable feelings, they stew in their misery, endless stirring the pot around, and around, and around. Brooders can't let go, and they struggle to compartmentalize as they obsess over a hurt, a perceived failure, a shortcoming, or an anxiety. They say things like "Why do I always act like this? (self blame game) or "Why can't I handle this better?" Let's just face it. It's exhausting and unproductive so just get off the spin cycle. UGH!
Brooding is worry's cousin. Both are intensely self-focused, and both involve trying to inhabit a moment that's not now. Worry looks forward while brooding looks back-- an even more pointless exercise. Brooders lose perspective as molehills turn into mountains and slights become major crimes. The difference between bottlings and brooders is brooders are at least feeling their feelings, meaning, aware of their emotions. Hmmmm. Now this feels more like me at times.
So Which One Are You?
I can relate to bottlers, and there are many, with research showing bottlers more likely to be men, and I've observed it in several, with brooders more likely to be women. So now that I'm learning about this type of behavior, I am able to do something about it if I choose to. I laughed as I read the book because I could point out sections and say to myself "Oh that is so me!" or "I totally do that!" I will brood over something over and over again that is now in the past, with worry (about the future) in close second, and how I handled it or about something in the future and what I'd do and say, over and over and over again or around and around and around. Ugh, it can drive me crazy. However, now when I catch myself doing it, I know that I'm brooding and say "let it go" because I know that it is not serving me. Getting uncomfortable because I'm stewing in misery because of a hurtful comment, shortcoming or just some stupid anxiety that I am causing, I check my emotional intelligence of self awareness and self management and decide to let it go in the moment as things always work themselves out even if that means I'm working them, later. Now, just like most things, easier known than done (yes I just made that up) but this is part of breaking my habit of being myself because I'm choosing a different me that brings me peace.
Let It Go
Using the strategy of saying "LET IT GO" can do wonders in the moment so you can actually enjoy your moment, is more impactful when you actually say in out loud instead of just in your head. Mouthing words feels like a wise person is speaking to you and we tend to listen to wise people instead of ourselves. The difference now is that you are the wise person. And who is better than you but you once you know what to do?! It then just comes down to doing it and that's the heart of the matter here. Feel your feelings but don't bottle them like they're just going to go away, because they won't, you're just pushing them down to come back up at another time, once you're triggered and don't stew in them to where you cause yourself worry, hurt, or anxiety. Our lives are meant to live without worry but with lots of peace so recognize your feelings and learn to let it go, appropriately!
If anything I've shared resonated with you or you have blog topic recommendations, I welcome you to leave a comment below.
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