- Psychological flexibility is a must in today’s hectic world.
But what is it and why is it so important?
One definition is: ‘To be fully conscious so as to change our behaviour, especially when life is difficult, that is in the service of our values.
For that to happen we need to utilise our awareness to catch out our tricky brain and some of the stuck behaviours that don’t serve us very well.
The human brain is tricky. See Professor Paul Gilberts stuff on this. Often it acts like a machine that spits out thoughts that spin, cycle and repeat that
- Alter our mood
- Create limiting beliefs
- Limit our potential and success
- Damage our acceptance and understanding of others
- Limit our communication
- Ignite unhealthy emotions and
- Keep us stuck
So if we would rather not be at the mercy of all these we need flexibility, not rigidity.
It’s easy to become mentally rigid and inflexible. Especially when we find our self stuck in an area of life and work we would rather not, in which the more inflexible we become the tighter the trap we experience.
Flexibility throughout our Body-Mind is Something to Cultivate
On my path I began to realise I would need to create my own psychological flexibility as it’s learning rarely offered by academia or corporates.
5 Tips (plus a bonus tip)
- Test, examine and shake up your existing beliefs. Most of our adult beliefs were handed to us in our first 7 years. Often shaped by those around us and our experiences of them, The good news is beliefs are not set in stone and are only made permanent when we hear ourselves say things like, “That’s the way I am ”. That style of self language is a useful indication to find learning that will help change, alter and modify our limiting beliefs into empowering ones. There are lots of resources available out there (including the ones we share) and many free ones too.
- Catch out your cognitive bias. This is when a part of our brain is already looking out for evidence to prove its right. If you don’t like someone well known, such as Donald Trump, specifically watch him and notice your bias coming in. Looking out for proof that he is the XXXX you’ve always thought he was! When we fail to catch out our bias we completely write-off people and fail to see other worthwhile aspects. Even if they only have one or a few redeeming features. We do this to customers, colleagues, leaders, and even our own family. If we practice this too often we end up doing this to our self believing we are not good enough in some way.
- Surround yourself with people and things that consciously resist falling into inflexibility. Many years ago I stopped buying newspapers. I woke up to the fact they only have 2 headlines. Finding heroes or zeros. And after celebrating a hero they would be keen to find a way to de-crown him or her. I asked myself would I keep a close friend in my life if I found out that was their habit? Pulling me and pushing me down. The next question was:
Would I invite them into my life every day? So I stopped buying a daily newspaper and almost immediately noticed the level of my openness and flexibility increase.
- Spend more time IN your body and be careful what you feed it. This may sound strange, especially if you like lots of knowledge-learning rather than doing-learning. There’s lots of recent science that shows the way we use, move and hold our body – and its flexibility – directly affects our mental flexibility. See the diagram at the end. This is because of the Vagus nerve that links the body with the brain. http://mentalfloss.com/article/65710/9-nervy-facts-about-vagus-nerve
Movement is highly successful at improving stress, mood, worry and depression. Activities such as yoga, meditation, dance and a range of sports often set people free of their mental turmoil. While the food we put into our bodies affects our energy, mood and output. Therefore if in my daily life I turn up to a meeting believing my old limiting beliefs, not catching out my cognitive bias, turning myself toxic with the unhelpful and unhealthy opinions of others, not using exercise and movement to shake me free and eating and drinking stuff that crashes my system and moods – I AM CREATING INFLEXIBILITY and ITS ALL MY DOING.
- Stretch your learning in the opposite direction with new physical past time. Dance if you’re not a dancer. Sing in a fun choir of you are not a singer, take kickboxing lessons if you tend to hold back in life, learn meditation if you never hold back in life. In other words, do something radically different or opposite to create a greater range of flexibility – Go FEAR-WARDS! And the rigid fear will fade and disappear.
Bonus tip NO 6. Every time you have a challenging day, notice the most dominant emotion. What you might notice is a pattern forming. So if you realise that often when you drive your car, commute to work, shop in the supermarket etc., your dominant emotion is frustration then it’s not the situations that are the issue – it’s a pattern you have. This is a great discovery to begin finding more psychologically flexible to overcome inflexible emotions.
If you would like learning and development on psychological flexibility for your teams or culture contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org