Emotional Agility, Succeed in Work and Life

by Grainne Toher, Founder, Yogapal

The popular term ‘emotional agility’ is used to describe the ability of an individual to experience situations, feelings and thoughts in a non-destructive manner and to use those thoughts, feelings and situations to drive personal growth and change.

So it sounds great, but how do we do it? Yogic practices believe it or not, can really help.

Our mat practices teach us the great value in becoming ‘the watcher’ or ‘the observer’ of our body, minds and breath.

Emotional agility is asking us to take that ‘observer’ or ‘watcher’ quality off the mat and into our workplaces and our personal relationships.

Not to be confused with narcissism or self-absorption, to become emotionally agile, we must make a regular practice of this self-watching and self-observing. Thus we learn to regard ourselves objectively, almost in a removed, but yet still quite connected way.

Daily breath practices of noticing the pause at the end of the exhale and before the beginning of the organic inhale will really help strengthen this quality of emotional agility, by slowing us down.

Picture your average work meeting, you may have raised some valuable arguments, expressed your views and experience and yet you feel like you were talked-over or shot down, worse again someone is claiming your ideas as their own. The first thought may be to let off steam, raise your voice or leave the room in a huff. None of these will help matters.

Instead try to come to a light noticing of what’s going on in the body, is it heated up? Is there sweat? Is your heart pumping and your jaw clenched? None of these are wrong, just observe what’s happening with both feet fully and firmly on the ground, place the palms downward on the thighs and watch the navel draw in and out on the breath. Continue the practice for a good few moments before you respond. When you do respond, it will literally be a centred and grounded response.

Another useful consideration is to consider throwing out black and white ideas from your vocabulary. Entirely. Forever. Try to lose the absolute notions of right vs wrong, good vs. evil and positive vs. negative. Instead, can we just notice and observe all ideas as only ideas, neither one better than the other? With this practice, we are less likely to be falsely positive or deeply negative. In other words, we can ‘just be’, plodding merrily through life – JUST BEING! Nothing is right or wrong, it just is. In other words – LIFE!!

Next time you are in a relationship situation where you feel unappreciated or unloved, pause, notice the thoughts and feelings that arise in you, notice where they rise and fall, pause again, name them internally to yourself, pause again. Continue to watch what rises and falls within you, with a light observation of the pause. Resolve to act, speak or indeed remain silent (if that’s appropriate) only when you feel that you are fully in tune with your body, mind and breath. Trust me, your loved ones will love you all the more for it.

The less energy we burn up on managing and dealing with the fallout of rushes of thought and emotion and the more we practice being the ‘watcher’ and the ‘observer’ of ourselves, the more time and space we have to do be creative in the other parts of our lives.

But above all, it’s all – JUST A PRACTICE!

About the author
With a corporate career of almost thirty years within Sales, HR, Legal, Operational Risk and Banking environments, Grainne knows the wellness needs of both employees and their employers. A teacher member of British Wheel of Yoga and an associate member of the Association for Yoga Studies, Grainne has been teaching since 2012. Grainne is also an insured and accredited Instructor of Mat Pilates, Meditation and Mindfulness.