Our 2020 Theme Book for our members is Emotional Agility by Susan David. During this COVID-19 time, we have invited our team members to reflect on their own experiences and how the book has been a helpful resource.
One of the blessings of the “Stay in Place” order is a little more time to catch up on some reading, including Emotional Agility. In the first chapter, Susan David writes the goal of the book “is to help you become more aware of your emotions, to learn to accept them and then to flourish by increasing your emotional agility.”
Given that purpose, I have the feeling (or is it a thought?) that she is writing to me. You see, I am a man and have a natural disability! Like many others in the male tribe, this emotions stuff is hard for me to “get.” It only makes it worse that my tribe has German roots. The men I grew up with were not very good at identifying feelings—much less able to name or talk about them. No one told me, but the message was clear: real men “suck it up.” They deal with emotions in silence or explode with anger.
Susan David defines emotions as “the physical responses to messages coming in from the outside world.” Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound too “touchy-feely” to me. She’s talking about physical responses, real stuff going on in our body. Things like our heart beats faster or slower, our muscles tighten or relax, our face turns red or white—or sensations like fear, anxiety, joy, and exhilaration.
What Am I Being Invited to Let Go Of?
I believe if men in my tribe were asked how they were feeling, they would tell you what they were THINKING. But the author invites us to “face our feelings with curiosity, self-compassion and acceptance.” I am being invited to let go of the silence, the denial, the shame, and the discomfort of my feelings.
What Am I Being Invited to Hold Onto?
The other side of that coin is that I am being invited to make friends with my feelings, listen carefully to their messages, and thereby become more effective at work and at home. As I learn to integrate my feelings and thinking, Susan David invites me to focus more on what I am all about: my core values, my mission, and my most important goals. She calls it “Walking Your Why”. During this time of uncertainty, it is a good time for me to become more certain about my Why. This exercise has helped confirm the WHY statement I wrote several years ago: “Grounded in my blessedness and brokenness, I walk humbly with others into the Shalom of Christ.” I would invite you to join me in writing, reviewing, or revising your Why.