by Magda Murawska, M.Ed.
Since the New Year started, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about what resolutions you should take on. Many media outlets are likely bombarding you with how to become more toned, slender and flexible in the inevitable quest to become a better you – they’re all trying to get you to up your gym visitations. I am definitely not the person to advise you on what the best workout for your abs is or where you’ll get the most workout for you money, but I did want to talk about a different type of flexibility – that of the mind.
Being physically flexible can be a really good thing – it doesn’t hurt as much to bend over and you’ll undeniably impress all your friends (and even some enemies) when you demonstrate your seemingly painless split. Now realistically speaking, we don’t really need to be that flexible (and few of us will ever achieve a painless split), but the key to being physically flexible is that it slowly shows us that the things we thought were uncomfortable and unbearable before, really aren’t that bad anymore. For example, people don’t just go into their first yoga session and successfully execute an advanced position. That takes time and a lot of practice. But not only can it be done, we also realize that it can have a lot of benefits.
Learning how to think more flexibly about the events in our life (whether small or major) is similar. If we can be more flexible in our thinking, it would make it easier for us to adjust to unexpected changes. If our beliefs are very rigid, we’ll have a difficult time adjusting to events when they don’t work out as planned.
So how do we begin to think more flexibly? From an REBT perspective, it goes back to the demands that we make about the way things should be. If our demands and expectations are rigid, we’ll become frustrated and angry when they aren’t met. So the first step would be to determine what demands you are making in a particular event. The next step is to challenge that demand. Why is it that you expect things to be a certain way? If you’re demands are similar to that of a 2-year-old (aka “I want it! I want it!”), then it’s time to start thinking a bit more age appropriately. If we’re willing to adjust ourselves and expect that anything can really happen, we’d likely find ourselves being able to “roll with it” just a little better.