What is critical thinking? When we hear the phrase ‘critical thinking’ we tend to assume…
In my last blog, I talked about having emotional agility with some tips on what it is, why it is useful, and how we can develop more emotional agility within ourselves. Today I would like to extend emotional agility to cover how we maintain good workplace practice (and mental wellbeing) when dealing with uncertainty.
There are many facets to our current situation which are causing a great deal of uncertainty for people, from job losses to economic uncertainty and of course, concerns over the pandemic itself. In addition, people grapple to accept the loss of control in their lives as a result of the restrictions put in place in response to this pandemic.
“ There are a lot of people feeling just like you at the moment”.
Somehow, that feels important for people to hear and to understand – The normal-ness of what they are feeling. Whatever emotions are coming up for you at this time, you are not alone and your feelings are completely normal and completely valid!
I would like to share a very simple technique to help you during these times. This methodology is grounded in ACT (Acceptance, Commitment Therapy) principles and shares a number of commonalities with Mindfulness practice. I hope that you find them useful.
Kindly and with curiosity acknowledge what is ‘showing up’ for you right now in this moment. What are your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensations, urges?
- What thoughts are popping into your head?
- What is your body doing?
- Are you experiencing any physical sensations such as a headache or nervousness in the pit of your stomach?
- Are you noticing yourself to be intolerant towards others? (or maybe yourself)
Try naming the sensations that you are experiencing. Here are some examples;
“I’m noticing uncertainty”
“There’s my mind worrying”
“That wasn’t very kind of me”
Now that you are noticing the various sensations that are ‘showing up’ for you, also try to;
Connect with your body
Connect with your physical body. You can do this any way that suits you best however, some suggestions may include;
- Consciously pushing your feet into the floor
- Try straightening up your back and spine; if in a chair, try sitting upright and forward
- Stretching your arms or neck, shrugging your shoulders
- Slowly breathing in and out (very gently, not deeply)
Note: you are not trying to turn away from, escape, avoid or distract yourself from what is happening in your inner world. The aim is to remain aware of your thoughts and feelings, to continue to acknowledge their presence, while at the same time, to connect with your body. In some ways, it’s like you are making room for the thoughts and feelings to exist within you rather than trying to get rid of them or pretend that they aren’t there.
This allows you to gain as much control as possible over your physical actions, (even though you can’t control your thoughts and feelings).
Engage in what you’re doing
Once you are aware of your thoughts and feeling and you have reconnected with your body it’s now time to get a sense of what you are trying to achieve and refocus your attention.
- What do I want to achieve right now?
- Which elements are within my control?
- What is this in service of? (the long-term objective)
Like any technique, this exercise gets easier with practice. Initially, you may need to go through it a few times before you feel it has been successful but with practice, this methodology will become quick and easy to achieve.
In times of uncertainty, it’s most beneficial to focus your energy on what you have control over rather than allowing our emotions to get caught up in the uncertainty of not knowing what lies outside of our control.
Following the three steps above will allow you to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings, reconnect with your body, and then re-engage in what you’re doing with direction and purpose. By not getting stuck with thoughts and feelings associated with the current uncertain environment, you will feel calmer and more in control – which in turn will allow you to operate in a way that aligns with who you want to be in life.
Happy practicing, go well.