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  • Writer's pictureChristina Rhyser

How to ALLOW for Emotional Agility

different emotional faces drawn on eggs

Dear Christy,

I was taught that strong feelings are unpredictable, unreliable and undesirable. Growing up, I wasn't allowed to laugh, cry or even talk too loudly for fear of being seen as irrational or immature so I learned how to bite my tongue, and maintain a facade of complete control at all times.

I don't necessarily agree with this anymore, but I find it extremely difficult to change. How can I express my emotions in a healthy way without being controlled by them? And maybe more importantly, how can I teach my kids to do the same? I confess that my first reaction is to shush them when they're getting too emotional but I don't like it, and want to do better. Can you help?

Thank you,



Dear Katarina,

Such a great question! What you described sounds pretty much exactly the same as how I was raised too. (I didn't even cry at my friend's funeral in case I couldn't stop myself once I started!) Unfortunately, many of have been taught the same ideas to some extent or another, and now struggle to navigate big feelings. It's too bad because feelings are here to teach us and guide us and connect us with our gut intuition. Once we learn how to navigate them - they really are incredibly helpful.

There are a few great books about emotional intelligence (or emotional agility). The one I like best is called "Permission to Feel" by Marc Brackett. I wrote an article summarizing his R.U.L.E.R acronym to give you an idea of what he teaches, and highly recommend you borrow his book from the library or buy it from your favourite bookstore. (It's also available as an audiobook!)

Give it a read and let me know what you think!



R.U.L.E.R for Emotional Agility

In his groundbreaking book "Permission to Feel," Marc Brackett introduces the R.U.L.E.R acronym as a powerful framework for navigating and understanding our emotions. Rooted in the principles of emotional agility, R.U.L.E.R offers a roadmap for effectively managing our feelings and cultivating greater self-awareness, resilience, and well-being. Let's delve into each component of the acronym and explore how it can help us navigate the complexities of our emotional lives.


The first step in navigating our emotions is to recognize and acknowledge them. Too often, we push aside or suppress our feelings, fearing they may overwhelm us or make us appear weak. However, denying our emotions only serves to amplify their intensity and impact. Recognizing our emotions involves tuning into our internal experiences and giving ourselves permission to feel whatever arises. Whether it's joy, sadness, anger, fear, or something in between, every emotion has value and deserves to be acknowledged.


Once we've recognized our emotions, the next step is to understand where they're coming from. Emotions don't arise out of thin air—they're influenced by a myriad of factors, including our thoughts, beliefs, past experiences, and external circumstances. By taking the time to explore the underlying causes and triggers of our feelings, we can gain valuable insights into ourselves and our emotional landscape. Understanding our emotions allows us to respond to them with greater empathy, insight, and intentionality.


After recognizing and understanding our emotions, it's essential to label them with specific words or phrases. Giving a name to our feelings helps us communicate them more effectively to ourselves and others, as well as providing a sense of validation and validation. When we can accurately label our emotions, we can better express them and seek appropriate support or coping strategies. For example, instead of simply feeling "bad," we might identify our emotion as "anxious" or "frustrated," enabling us to address it more effectively.


Once we've identified and labeled our emotions, it's important to express them in healthy and constructive ways. Bottling up our feelings or suppressing them only leads to greater emotional distress and dysfunction. Instead, we can find outlets for expressing our emotions authentically and safely. This might involve talking to a trusted friend or family member, journaling about our feelings, or engaging in creative expression such as art or music. By expressing our emotions, we release pent-up energy and tension, and we create space for healing and connection with others.


The final step in navigating our feelings is to regulate them effectively. Emotional regulation involves managing our emotional responses and coping with distressing emotions in healthy ways. This might include practicing deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, positive self-talk, or seeking support from others. By learning to regulate our emotions, we can reduce stress, enhance our overall well-being, and build resilience in the face of life's challenges.

Incorporating the R.U.L.E.R framework into our lives can empower us to navigate our emotions with grace and honour. By recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating our feelings, we can cultivate greater self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and resilience. As Marc Brackett writes in "Permission to Feel," emotions are the language of the soul—they offer valuable insights into our inner world and guide us on our journey toward authenticity and fulfillment. So let's embrace our emotions, honor our feelings, and give ourselves permission to feel all that we are.


Incorporating the R.U.L.E.R framework into our lives not only equips us with the tools to navigate the complexities of our emotional landscape but also empowers us to cultivate greater self-awareness, resilience, and well-being - crucial elements in combating parental burnout. As Marc Brackett describes in "Permission to Feel," emotions are the language of the soul, offering invaluable insights into our inner world and guiding us toward authenticity and fulfillment, particularly in the demanding role of parenthood. By recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating our feelings, we not only mitigate the risk of parental burnout but also honor the depth of our emotional experiences, granting ourselves the permission to feel all that we are.

Through this transformative journey, we not only safeguard our own emotional well-being but also model healthy emotional coping mechanisms for our children, fostering an environment of resilience, mutual understanding, and growth within our families.


Need some help to allow for emotional agility?

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