“Reality knows nothing of your plans, and it comes up with ever new ways to pester you. According to recent research, you are bound to meet twenty-three frustrations today (up from thirteen a decade ago).” – Piero Ferrucci in The Power of Kindness.
How you meet with the frustrations which show up today will make a difference in how frustrated they will leave you. Flexibility is something everyone thinks they understand but psychological flexibility isn’t as well known.
The idea of being physically flexible can be seen in a gymnast who is able to twist and turn effortlessly in floor routines, on balance beams and even between uneven bars. It takes years of practice to become a skilled gymnast. The amazing flexibility of the prepared gymnast can seem super-human to those of us who sit behind a desk and therefore, seem out of our reach. Psychological flexibility also takes practice but becoming adept at it doesn’t require a gym.
We may be inflexible because our parents didn’t know how to teach the skills of flexibility. Rigid rules and punishments may have trained a lack of flexibility in our thinking and/or feelings. We may have been given a routine to follow which has allowed some limited success but it didn’t include an internal compass for self-awareness.
The ability to think about more than one option and really consider how to navigate the different potential outcomes of various probable options is being psychologically flexible. That is a mouthful to say but it is a simple process to move yourself from one self-centered thought to considering how we are all connected; self, partner, family, friends, community, country, to continent.
One Thing to Do: Mental stretching is the purposeful reaching with your thoughts past where they usually end. It is like expanding the idea that something only affects you into the possibility of how that same something could change life for others. Reaching from outcomes about “just me” to an impact on “we” is one mental stretch worth practicing.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.