September is a time of transition and mixed emotions for many – wistfulness as summer winds down combined with eagerness to a return to a “regular” schedule and excitement for new beginnings. It’s also the perfect time to focus on one’s own ability to navigate transitions and the essential, related skill of “emotional agility” that transitions often demand.
Emotional agility is about identifying, accepting, and holding all of your emotions – both positive and negative ones – and understanding that acceptance is key to thriving. It is common to critique ourselves for having “bad emotions” like anger or regret. We often try to push aside these feelings and focus on the positive (which, in good measure, is a valuable practice). But, new research shows that when emotions are consistently pushed aside, they don’t go away – they get stronger. Pain, frustration, disappointment, regret, guilt, and other tough emotions are part of an authentic life, and we need to learn how to feel those – and appropriately manage them – as well.
By giving space to the full range of our emotions, we benefit in many ways. At a basic level, it helps us deepen our understanding of ourselves and others. It also helps us identify feelings we might otherwise have ignored. At a deeper level, this attention to our emotions actually strengthens our ability to manage difficult feelings without being overwhelmed and, in turn, builds our resilience.
What You Can Try: As summer winds down and you transition to fall, allow yourself to feel all the emotions brought on by the change in seasons and schedule. Think about what the feelings tell you about what you value, and what that may imply about changes you would like to make in your life.
I’d love to hear how it goes!
Director, Thrivewell Coaching