Building emotional agility

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Find the space in between.

“During the average day, most of us speak around sixteen thousand words. But our thoughts – our internal voices – produce thousands more.”

— Susan David, Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life

They say the quietest people have the loudest minds. But even extroverts have noisy heads.

Our inner dialogue is all over the place. The harder we try to tame the monkey mind, the crazier it gets. But instead of anxiety loop, we can “step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

How we react to our inner-narrative predetermines our well-being. We have to keep our emotions in check. Recounting his time in an extermination camp, Viktor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

We may be naturally fragile. But we can strengthen our emotional agility to withstand our impulses. It’s not about forcing optimism, rather, it’s about dancing with the fear, and maintaining courage and curiosity despite self-doubt. As health psychologist Kelly McGonigal notes in her Ted Talk, the stress of caring can strengthen resilience.

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