I’m somewhat of an emotion enthusiast. My friends know me as someone who will never move away from any emotional experience, negative or positive. There is always something to be gained from showing up. And so says Psychologist Susan David, whose brilliant book, Emotional Agility, I recently finished reading.
In it she writes of the four key concepts for dealing with the ineffable and inescapable world of emotions. Showing up, Stepping out, Walking your Why and Moving on. When dealt with fair and square, emotions can serve us in the most powerfully positive ways. And it all starts with awareness.
Showing up requires us to be authentic with our feelings. Happiness is achieved not by avoiding uncomfortable emotions but rather reckoning with them and wrestling with what they are trying to teach us. Show up. Be honest.
In Australia, where a carefree and untroubled attitude is revered, it’s often hard to turn down the invitation to think ‘Don’t worry, she’ll be right, mate’. When in fact, telling someone not to worry is tempting them to do just that. It’s the well documented white bear problem, referring to the psychological process whereby deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to surface. Try not to think of a white bear for the next ten seconds!
Identifying and understanding your emotions. Why bother? You can make use of them for more successful social interactions, and use your awareness to guide you when dealing with problems. In conflict resolution, the person who is best able to regulate their emotions almost always comes out with what they want.
It’s crucial to better handling of frustration and keeps distress from overwhelming your ability to think. In short, it’s about control. Showing up, allows you to move into a place of control. And sigh.
Of course, all of this finds its foundations in mindfulness, our capacity to be aware of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours with compassion and non-judgment. But before going there, let’s just start by….showing up.