Emotional flexibility might be defined as our ability to adapt to stressful situations. Stress itself is our bodies response to a threat or demand arising from a new or changing situation. We normally think of the stress response as our tendency to attack or flee from a threatening situation. The other option is to freeze and play dead. Unfortunately all threats are not external and many threats are generated by our own mind. Some directions for being emotional flexible might include making an effort to change what we can, accept and adapt to what you cannot change, and keep a positive attitude. This is certainly great advice, but unfortunately we often have no clear guidelines for how to make this happen. It is like going to some destination without having a map that shows us how to get there. Most of us probably do a reasonable job of trying to change what we can, much of the time. This might include using our ability to self-regulate and being assertive. We handle the situation without inflaming things and politely tell others what we need or want..Accepting what we can not change often presents a much bigger challenge. Does accepting what we can not change include being accepting of our own emotions? Unfortunately many people interpret this as accepting the situation without having an emotional reaction, or repressing their emotional experience. I suspect that to effectively accept the situation we need to be accepting our emotions regarding that situation. I will again mention Dr. Russ Harris image of using a "struggle switch", with the struggle switch on we fight against our emotions until we become even more anxious and deplete our energy. With the struggle switch off we are more accepting of our own emotion or anxiety, and focus our energy on doing something productive that enhances our life. The last piece of good advice is to keep a positive attitude. Again the good advice does not show us how to achieve this positive state. We can reframe the situation in a manner that creates meaning for us, and we can practice gratitude We know for sure that people who practice gratitude become more grateful and are happier, however if they deny their emotions this one is likely to backfire on them. I once had a client who came into my office crying after she heard the song (Don't worry be happy) The young girl was angry and distraught after hearing the song. Why wouldn't she be, she had a brain tumor. Sometimes our good advice can be misleading and even inappropriate. If it doesn't show or include compassion for our own, or someone else's experience or suffering it is not likely to be helpful. What actually helps us in our struggle to be emotionally flexible are our healthy personal relationships. When we can share our experience with others who are accepting of us and will not judge us, we can more easily deal with stress. That we can be open and vulnerable with others has amazing healing power. Unfortunately this is often difficult to find for many people. We have a cultural stigma regarding being emotionally open, vulnerable, and honest. We keep things to ourselves too much, and we keep things to ourselves because it is often emotionally dangerous to share our true selves with others Many people might argue this point, but we only need to look at the degree of depression, obesity, substance abuse, violence, and a variety of addictions in our culture to know this is the truth. What if each day we shared one of our flaws or insecurities with someone, and begin to break down the barriers to personal isolation that we all experience to some degree. In place of showing how we have it "all together", so much of the time. Just being a "little bit" more real with each other might begin to break down these barriers to our cultural isolation.