Emotional Agility: Book Review

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Quite a while ago, this was one of my facebook rants:

“There are a lot of emotional people, there are a lot of intelligent people. But there are very few who are emotionally intelligent”

Anything on the subject of Emotional Intelligence always catches my eye. And hence this book was on my TBR. I enjoyed reading it, particularly the first half! It wasn’t an eye-opener but it resonated with the way I like to deal with my emotions. It was more like validating my thought process (not that I needed to!!!, lol) and giving formal definitions/terms to my ways!! The second half was more like any other self-help book, with nuggets of wisdom here and there!

In a nutshell, it advises you to adapt to whatever life throws at you and stay true to your values, acknowledge your emotions, accept and label them. In Susan’s words, to follow the steps towards mental agility: ‘Show up’ (be aware of the emotions), ‘Step Out’ (approach them with courage) and ‘Walk Your Why’ (understand what your personal values and aims are and act accordingly).

I’ll mention few things which I appreciated from the book!! It suggests that rather than believing in ‘Let it go’, make it ‘Hold it lightly’ for anything. When this happens, the heart expands. It’s not a resignation to fate but rather a vital engagement with the way things actually are, unfiltered and undistorted by rigid lenses.

She wrote about Pennebaker’s Writing Rules about writing your experiences from past week/month/ year on a piece of paper honestly and incoherently. You can chuck it in a bin or put it on a blog somewhere (if you are brave enough 😉 ) but the idea is to get the thoughts out of you and on the page. It’s a process of stepping out from your experience to gain perspective on it. I can vouch for it that it works!!!

Susan mentions it’s a misconception that bottling thoughts/feelings gives you control. The suppressed emotions inevitably surface in unintended ways and cause an emotional blockage. It’s very common for people to advice you things like to do ‘something else’ so you are distracted from a particular situation or stress. Like, go dance, sing, party or blah as distractions when you cannot get something out of your mind at all! I have personally got such advice multiple times from multiple people. Did it work? No, it never did!

Personally, I admire people who have the courage to feel and show their emotions. If I want to cry, I do. If I feel like talking about something, I call a friend and do so. Whether I need a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on or just a hug, I have almost always reached out! And it was good to read about it in the book that it’s a proven way to acknowledge your emotions, respect them and try to deal with them. I also strongly disagree with the general notion of emotional people being perceived as ‘weak’. By all means, it is absolutely possible for a person to be emotional and quite strong at the same time!

Another thing I loved was something that the author wrote about perfection! ‘Perfection is one-dimensional, unrealistic and boring. That’s why the most engaging protagonists have flaws or a dark side, and why the truly interesting villains have enough humanity that we at least partly identify with them.’ I hardly believe in perfection, but for different reasons. From what I have observed and learned in life, people run after perfection and miss out on heaps of little not-perfect-yet-enjoyable achievements/milestones or whatever (pretty much everything!!) in between.

Would I recommend this one? Give it a go if the topic interests you or if you haven’t read anything on it! I read it pretty fast btw! Some people keep comparing this one and Grit, so I’ll probably read that one as well after a while!

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