BEING MENTALY AGILE – KNOWING WHEN TO ‘STEP IN’, ‘STEP OUT’, OR ‘STEP BACK’
Achievers respond to change by mentally exploring the dynamics of the new situation, and finding ways to make the change work well for them.
We can call such a response ‘mental agility’; the capacity to move quickly, subtly and sensitively to adjust to change. With mental agility you can optimize conditions to best advantage.
The key factor is knowing when to take action and when not. The right time to take action is when you have sufficiently strong influence over the prevailing conditions – then success is reasonably certain. It is unwise to take action when you have little influence over the prevailing condition – you are likely to be wasting energy. Often you can be so busy trying to force things to work in unfavorable conditions (like trying to braai in the rain) that you might miss other more doable opportunities (tried to braai in the fireplace?). So, mental agility includes knowing when to take prompt action, or when to let go and wait for a better opportunity.
You don’t have to get bogged down in heavy emotional responses to change. Instead, practice emotional agility by acknowledging your feelings and finding ways to turn the ‘angst’ energy into emotional ‘glad’.
Dr Rachel Jack of Glasgow University has demystified, and thereby simplified emotions into four basic types of experiences. Now these emotional experiences can be more effectively dealt with to support you in dancing with the changes in life.
These days there is much talk about emotional intelligence (EQ). You can also relate that to emotional agility. This simply means being sensitively in touch with what you are feeling and doing something about it. You want to pay attention to the angst emotions, those that tend to wear you down. By doing so you can better work through the feelings, not to suppress or deny them, and take the following steps to resolve the issue and generate the ‘glad’ emotion.
These four basic emotions are:
|A sense of fulfilment
The essential experience is of being grateful for having what is needed, holding positive expectations of getting what you want, being confident in your own abilities, and enjoying positive relationships with the others involved.
Relieved, Satisfied, Peaceful, Accepted, Content, Tender, Appreciated, Pleased, Happy, Enthused, Joyous, Loved, Excited, Ecstatic
|A sense of being frustrated
The essential experience is feeling blocked in getting what you need or desire. There can be a feeling of being trapped in a situation over which you have little control.
Irritated, Frustrated, Interrupted, Distracted, Annoyed, Angry, Hostile, Hateful, Mean, Enraged
|What to do?
Determine: What it is that you need or desire? Identify what is the situation preventing you from getting that, or is somehow standing in the way of achieving that? So, rather than getting ‘mad’, here’s a smart response:^ Express your feeling – but avoiding the tendency to blame^ Articulate the need/want and identify what is blocking it – bear in mind the real possibility that some of this could be your own internal block.^ Find sustainable ways of removing the block – get one with pursuing the positive intention with smarter choices.
|A sense of loss
The essential experience is about losing something of value, or having lost something, that was needed or desired.
Disappointed, Alone, Heavy, Empty, Lost, Helpless, Rejected, Deserted, Grieved, Devastated, Depressed (meaning of life lost)
|What to do?
Determine: What is it that you have really lost or expect that you are losing. Then:^ Do something creative about the situation in which you stand to lose something^ Determine fully the extent of the loss.^ Acknowledge that loss.
^ Grieve the loss.
^ Refocus on the good stuff and move on
|A sense of disquiet
The essential experience is feeling consumed with negative expectations, your mind is full of concerns for the future – real or imagined. This includes losing what is appreciated, or even losing the sense of self (own life).
Concerned, Anxious, Nervous, Weak, Vulnerable, Fearful, Overwhelmed, Afraid, Terrified, Paranoid
|What to do?
Determine: What do you really need to know about the worrying situation – get real, then:
^ Gather more appropriate information^ Act on the best available options^ Seek whatever help is available^Face what is real or imagined by walking through the experience to its conclusion
^ Look back from the other side – and learn
These four experiences can range from being barely discernible in one’s awareness, to being overwhelmingly distracting. The intensity of the experience determines the description of the emotion. Emotional agility is picking it up early enough to do something about it when you are still resourceful.