Let Yourself Off the Hook

Xperience Growthblogposts

When we’re hooked, we’re in a pattern that we can’t seem to get out of. The hook has us.

Author Susan David’s book Emotional Agility says we’re hooked when we get caught up in self-defeating thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Usually, it’s own doing. It starts when we view a situation in a negative light. Then, we blow it up and get into a negative spiral because we’re on the hook. Ultimately, we do not have the behavior of the person that we want to be.

Being hooked shows up in MANY places in our lives. I’m in charge of getting our 5-year-old ready for bed. Taking a shower, brushing teeth, combing hair, getting jammies on, doing FaceTime with Grammy (my Mom!!). Too many nights, she will actively avoid doing one or all of these, act out, run away, or something else to not do the simple routines on this list. I get hooked. My frustration comes out, I stop doing it with joy. I just want to get to the finish line and be done with the night. This is not what I want to do… though when she acts out, I tend to get hooked and I’m not the Dad that I want to be.

In “Emotional Agility” Susan David talks about the 4 steps to “unhooking” from the patterns that ultimately lead you to not acting according to the person that you want to be.

She sums up emotional agility as “…being aware and accepting of all your emotions, even learning from the most difficult ones. It also means getting beyond conditioned or preprogrammed cognitive and emotional responses (your hooks) to live in the moment with a clear reading of present circumstances, respond appropriately, and then act in alignment with your deepest values.”

To become emotionally agile, she said that we can show up, step out, walk your why, move on.

Showing Up

Accept all of our emotions – good, bad and ugly. She says that we can accept them and understand that it’s not WHO we are. We are not angry… we feel angry. Because our emotions lead to actions, this is a great step to being able to act like the person that we ultimately want to be.

That process of showing up puts distance between yourself and what you feel so that you can see it for what it is… a simple indication of what’s happening inside yourself in that moment.

Stepping Out

Susan David says, “emotional agility means having any number of troubling thoughts or emotions and still managing to act in a way that serves how you most want to live. That’s what it means to step out and off the hook.”

It’s not about burying or avoiding. It’s feeling the anger… fear… frustration and doing action that serves your bigger purpose in spite of the feeling.

For me, it would be continuing to find “fun” ways to do our bedtime routine even though I’m feeling frustrated. And when I find the fun, I’m no longer feeling frustrated.

Walking Your Why

Fun and excitement are values of mine. When I’m at and feeling my best, there’s excitement about what I’m doing. Coaching is exciting to me because I believe that I’m making an impact in that person’s career & life. Even the tougher conversations have an element of excitement based on my belief.

Being aware of your values and your purpose, you can choose to take actions that help you live it. That level of congruency avoids some negative emotions and will allow negative emotions that we do experience to not get in the way when the connection to your why is stronger than feeling in the moment.

In business, when we know why we’re doing what we’re doing and it’s for a higher purpose, we can get through any negativity that gets in our way. 

Moving On

Little tweaks get the biggest results. Instead of doing a complete 180, what minor adjustments can you make? Can you get out of bed 30 minutes earlier? Can you commit to making 10 calls instead of 5? Can you stop and take a breath when you feel frustrated rather than talking immediately?

Susan David says…  “Nature favors evolution, not revolution. Studies from many different fields have demonstrated that small shifts over time can dramatically enhance our ability to thrive. The most effective way to transform your life, therefore, is not by quitting your job and moving to an ashram, but, to paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, by doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

When we string small changes together, we get larger positive results that will last. Why will they last? Each sustained tweak is a habit and when those new habits lead you to living your values, your hooks are not what is defining you, your purpose is what defines you.

If you’re interested in digging deeper into these concepts and content, get a copy of Susan David’s Emotional Agility book here.