Self-help books aren’t always my thing. Like, they’re good and have truth, but they’re so watered down and oversimplified that I don’t know if they could ever work without someone putting a lot of effort into it. However, this one wasn’t like that. Watered down, yes, but relatively simple to tackle.
The strategy that Susan David has come up with is, to me, like a watered down Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). REBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy created by Albert Ellis. First, you focus on something that happens and your beliefs about it. Either it can be rational or irrational. The whole thing with REBT is to stop irrational thinking by thinking about your emotions and disputing them with different strategies.
Emotional agility is, in a sense, like that. You focus on your emotions and you rationalize them. You realize that they’re important for some reason, so accept them and then find a way to use them to help you. That’s the whole premise of David’s idea and it’s something I can get behind completely.
There are four main ideas to this that I caught. First, you have to feel your feelings. Don’t bottle them up or ruminate. Feel them, and then let go. Second, stress is okay. It’s healthy to feel stressed. Be whelmed, not overwhelmed. Third, and this is the biggest part of the book, is walking your why. What David means by that is to figure out what you want to do with your life. Find your values and do things that match them. Fourth, don’t overpraise kids. And fifth, allow children autonomy so they can figure things out themselves emotionally. Otherwise, you get the coddled kids who can’t handle real life.
My mom actually raised me in this way, so I know how important it is to feel your feelings and to accept stress and to do what is right for you. It’s healthy and the ways that David talks about these are very realistic. She didn’t propose any complete overhauls of systems we have in place but just talked about how you can do this in your own life. Doesn’t matter about changing other people, just work on yourself and find a way to accept your “negative” emotions.