Emotional Flexibility: the Key to Feeling Better

12 November, 2020
Emotional flexibility is a great skill to have when it comes to relating to others, as well as yourself. And it can be invaluable when you know how to use it.

Emotional flexibility is a great skill to have when it comes to relating to others, as well as yourself. It can be an invaluable source of wealth when you know how to use it.

Sometimes, when you try to have everything in life organized to perfection, it makes you a bit rigid. What if you also did that with your emotions? Life wouldn’t flow. That’s why it’s important to be emotionally flexible.

Thus, you can either choose to embrace perfection or just as easily discard it if it’s stressing you out. Then, you’ll become more self-confident and live in a healthier environment with a better quality of life. To learn about emotional flexibility, just read this article. You’ll find out what it is, how you get it, and how you’ll benefit from it.

“She stood in the storm, and when the wind didn’t blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”   

-Elizabeth Edwards-

What does emotional flexibility mean?

Emotional flexibility is your ability to adapt to emotional circumstances. It’s the ability to let your emotions flow and to tolerate change in different situations. In other words, it’s the ability to adjust your emotions to each situation you face.

However, it can be quite hard to put into practice because your life is constantly changing. And it can also be quite overwhelming to have to rule out one perfectly good solution in order to get to the best one.

But it is possible. The important thing is to try and be assertive so your emotions get some breathing space. 

A woman with her eyes shut.

How can you become emotionally flexible?

There are several ways to increase your emotional tolerance. If this is the route you want to take, here are some strategies to help you:

  • Let go to lighten your load. Why cling to something that hurts you? Setting toxicity aside will free you. Thus, you’ll find it easier to adjust to any changes coming your way.
  • Be aware that every emotion has its own value and that driving them away isn’t healthy. In fact, every emotion fulfills a purpose and has an energy you can learn from.
  • Practice resilience. This is the ability to cope with problems. No matter how frustrated you might feel, you can transform those feelings into courage and strength. And you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic moments.
  • Learn from the past. It’s easy to lose control sometimes. However, if you learn from your mistakes, you can stop them from happening again in the future.
  • Say goodbye to remorse. Guilt is exhausting and keeps you in the past. Although it’s important to learn from your mistakes, don’t hold onto them. After all, they’re in the past and can’t be changed.
  • Embrace your fears. It’s difficult not to get frightened, as fear is an important part of your alarm system. But don’t ignore your fears and pretend they don’t exist. Embrace them and get to know them. Because knowing where they come from helps you know yourself.
  • Let your emotions flow. Let them be and live with them.
  • Cultivate healthy relationships. To do this, make use of your self-knowledge and self-esteem. If you value and know yourself, you can be more flexible and forge successful relationships. Make sure to surround yourself with non-toxic people. Toxic people weaken your emotional flexibility.
  • Be active. Sports help you focus and feel better due to the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins. If you’re artsier, try to paint or draw, as they’ll help you to transform your anxiety into something pleasurable.

Practicing emotional flexibility

On the other hand, remember that you don’t have all the answers and you must also listen to other people’s opinions. Furthermore, their reality will improve yours.

And don’t forget that you sometimes have to let go of that emotional control. It’s okay to cry, scream, or laugh. Be irrational. Explore unreasonable and contradictory behaviors. It’ll do you good. Accept yourself and you’ll no longer feel threatened by conflict because you’ve claimed the right to say or do whatever you want. Nobody has the right to judge you.

To be emotionally flexible, you also need to be connected to your thoughts and actions. You can do this with practices like mindfulness and self-compassion.

In fact, a study titled Building blocks of emotional flexibility: Trait Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Are Associated with Positive and Negative Mood Shifts by Shadi Beshai, Jennifer L. Prentice, and Vivian Huang, published in the journal Mindfulness, states this. This study discovered that mindfulness and self-compassion act as protective agents against falling moods and mood swings.

A woman blowing bubbles.

What are the benefits of being emotionally flexible?

 Here are some of the benefits you can get from being emotionally flexible:

  • Greater self-knowledge.
  • Increased self-esteem.
  • Better emotional management.
  • Increased tolerance.
  • Greater ability for mindfulness.
  • Increased self-compassion.
  • Improved relationships with others, yourself, and the environment.
  • Improved decision-making.
  • Continued learning.
  • Release of tension.
  • Greater capacity for resilience.
  • Fewer toxic relationships and environments.

Therefore, emotional flexibility means accepting but not judging and being honest with yourself. Such emotional intelligence binds you to the most primitive, and possibly the richest, part of your nature.

Cultivating emotional flexibility helps you see each emotion as unique and valuable. You’ll know whether it’s the right time to express each emotion. And you’ll learn to change chaotic times into peaceful ones. Overall, you’ll be moving towards a better quality of life.

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  • Beshai, S., Prentice, J.L., & Huang, v. (2018). Buildinf blocks of emotional flexibility: Trait mindfulness and self-compassion are associated with positive and negative mood shifts. Mindfulnees, 9 (3), 939-948.