Our 2020 Theme Book for our members is Emotional Agility by Susan David. Little did we know that it would be so appropriate for the challenges we are now facing with COVID-19. During this time, we have invited our team members to reflect on their own experiences and how the book has been a helpful resource by asking them these two questions: What are you being invited to let go of right now? What are you being invited to hold on to?

My emotions are already compromised. I’m still processing the loss of my sister in January. She has been my number one confidant and partner in crime for 49 years. Add to that the loss of our mom in 1983, and our dad in 2018, and now I’m the sole survivor of my immediate family unit. That in itself is hard. Now, COVID-19 is stealing a portion of my capacity to deal with the grief that I’m already experiencing, and adding more grief to it! Emotional Agility is helping me address and name the emotional instability I’ve been experiencing.

What are you being invited to let go of?
I’m being invited to let go of my learned responses to triggers that usually put me into a tailspin. Susan David calls this “unhooking.” COVID-19 has certainly put my “Mama Bear” mode into full effect with my own family of 5. However, I am learning to let go of my learned reactions and trying to focus on the facts as best I can, so that I can model a healthier response for my family. I don’t want them to follow in my anxiety-ridden footsteps, which is where I would go if I just allowed myself to continue down the familiar path.

What are you being invited to hold onto?
Another point from the book is that we need to learn to accept and live with all of our emotions, not just the good ones. After the loss of my sister, I’ve allowed myself to feel sad, lonely and angry. I’ve also acknowledged that it’s still ok to feel joy and gratitude! Another one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says this: “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” I have learned behaviors that tell me to try and ignore these “negative” emotions. Don’t ignore them! Acknowledge them, feel them, and then determine what the next best move is for you. Stay well, my friends!

Sally Derstine

Managing Partner, Senior Family Business Advisor

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