So this is the TED talk I wish I’d written.
I wish I’d written it because the speaker, Susan David, so beautifully and articulately describes something I care deeply about.
Susan talks about how our lack of education (in schools and at home) around how to effectively deal with our emotions, is the cause of so much stress, anxiety and depression in the world today.
“The World Health Organisation tells us that depression is now the single leading cause of disability – GLOBALLY! Outstripping cancer and heart disease. At a time of greater complexity, unprecedented technological, political and economic change, we are seeing how people’s tendency is more and more to lock down into rigid responses to their emotions”
This is a quote from the talk, and I truly believe there is a link between this rigid response of suppressing, pushing aside or denying our ‘uncomfortable feelings’ with the amount of stress, depression and burn-out there is in our homes and organisations.
We push these ‘uncomfortable’ and unhelpfully labelled ‘negative’ feelings away, so we can crack on with the day, as if these emotions are bad and an inconvenience.
Or worse, we push them aside because we think no-one wants to hear about them! We’re all so busy, no-one wants to be inconvenienced by the wobble you’re having.
There also seems to be an unwritten and unrelenting pressure to be resilient and stay positive.
“Keep Calm and Carry On”
How many times a day do you see this phrase on t-shirts, coffee mugs, pretty much everywhere and in every incarnation?
And if you don’t keep calm and carry on, if you feel or show any emotion, then you’re weak and a victim, right? And no-one likes a victim!!
OMG that view annoys me so much.
Yes, I believe in being positive.
Yes, I believe there is a great power in cultivating optimism.
Yes, I believe in challenging your mind-set, your focus and the habitual thoughts you have that don’t serve you.
But I do not believe that this should all be done at the expense of recognising, accepting and being free to express all emotions you feel.
Just because you feel sad, worried, frustrated, and perhaps even a bit vulnerable, it doesn’t mean you aren’t strong enough to cope with life. It doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t ever feel happy, loved, or full of energy again.
It means that in that moment, when you feel sad, worried, frustrated, guilty, afraid (or any of the other countless uncomfortable emotions) you’re just being a human being having a normal and human response to everyday events.
To never get hurt, stressed, or inconvenienced by your emotions is only a realistic goal of a dead person!
There is a healthier way to deal with these emotional responses (rather than suppressing them, or forcing positivity) that can enable us to get more agile at dealing with our emotions and prevent the often debilitating effects of stress, depression and burn-out.
And that healthier and more sustainable way towards being agile is a blend of two approaches:
But at the core, emotional agility all starts with understanding yourself and your needs, knowing how to fulfil those needs, and making it a priority to do so. Our emotions give us clues to our needs, if we’re ignoring them, we may never get clear what we need.
Developing this approach, and making it into teachable skills that are simple and practical to apply is something I’ve been working on over the last 9 years in my business (and probably my entire life)
Here’s a link to the TED talk I’ve been banging on about, and if give me a shout if you want to find out more about the work I do helping people manage and regulate their emotions in a healthy and sustainable way.
The TED talk I wish I’d written – The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage – Susan David
I hope you enjoy the TED talk!
As always let me know what you think, and watch this space for the TED talk I actually will write (hmmm did I really want to announce that to the world just yet hahaha!!)
Written: Apr 2, 2020