Sunday, February 25, 2018

Weekly Inspiration: Emotional Agility

This morning, Susan David's TED Talk on The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage caught my eye. A psychologist from South Africa, she shares the story of her father's death and how she wasn't able to grieve openly until a teacher encouraged her to write about her feelings. Grief is something we all deal with in living with chronic illness, and David makes some excellent and thought-provoking points in this brief talk:

She talks about the need to recognize and feel your emotions - that's the only way to move forward. When she mentioned the pressures of our society to "stay positive," it reminded me of the early years of my illness, when my family was focused on "cheering me up" and "getting my mind off my illness" when what I really needed was simple recognition and acceptance of what I was going through.

We all need to grieve our losses. I write often about finding joy, being grateful, and taking positive steps, but this doesn't mean ignoring the darker feelings - you have to allow yourself to feel anger, sadness, resentment, and other difficult emotions in order to move past them.

Incidentally, today is my own father's birthday. He died 2 years ago of melanoma. I miss him every single day, but he's really been on my mind even more this week, when I would normally be picking out books I think he'd like or choosing a new golf course for him to try.

There are all kinds of grief - plus other difficult emotions, too. David talks here about emotional agility - being able to really feel all of our emotions, positive ones and darker ones - and it's a good lesson to remember.

Have you allowed yourself to grieve what you have lost? Have you been able to truly feel those emotions and move forward?


  1. Jennifer5:35 PM

    Powerful TED talk. Thanks so much for pointing us to it. I have not been diagnosed with CFS, but I'm pretty sure I have it. My doctor even mentioned it, but no treatment suggestions. Tonight I'm missing an Irish Night because of fatigue. Your blog is giving me some ideas on how to manage this. Right now, I just HATE this feeling of diminishment. And I know I'm not alone!

    1. Welcome to the blog, Jennifer! Glad you found this post helpful.

      Yes, there are LOTS of effective ways to treat ME/CFS but few doctors know much about the disease.

      This might help you decide if you have it - the key characteristic of ME/CFS is an intolerance to exercise - that even mild exertion leads to a sudden worsening of symptoms anywhere from an hour to a day after - what we call a "crash." If you have that, then yes, you do have ME/CFS.

      A self-quiz to help you decide if you have ME/CFS:

      Here is a summary of the treatments that have worked best for my sons and I over the years - we now function fairly well and live active lives again:

      Good luck! Let me know how things go for you & please speak up if you have any questions!