The older you are, the more difficult it is for you to adapt to new things. Your approaches to life change with experience, age, maturity, and adaptability. As you read this post, think about your personality also defines the way you adapt to things.
In the last couple of years, adaptability has been talked about as an independent cognitive quotient that measures a person’s ability and receptiveness to changes in the workplace. Here, I want to explain adaptability under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence has many definitions. But before we get into it, think about this, everything you do creates a systematic stimulative emotional response by association. For example, you get angry at work, drive home and get more irate on the road because of traffic. You get home, and you are already there. The truth is that anything will trigger you to get more furious. You will end up fighting with your partner, the kids, your significant other, or anyone, including the cat. That is what emotional responses by association are.
Based on the philosophy of behaviorism, the sources of behavior are external in the environment. The core meaning of emotional intelligence is to help you perceive, understand, and manage your emotions, so you can use the information within your environment to guide your decisions and actions. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you are. All of your actions and inactions will have a systematic ripple effect with intended or unintended consequences toward everyone around you.
That is where the important role of adaptability comes into play. In emotional intelligence, adaptability is the capacity to perceive your environment, ponder upon it, and then make the appropriate responses to change and adapt to new situations. It is your ability to modify, adjust, and regulate your behavior to adapt—even if temporarily—to different circumstances and different people.
Suppose you struggle to adapt to changes, depending on your personality and emotional intelligence abilities. In that case, you go through different stages before succumbing to the dazzling seductresses of adaptability. You might find yourself:
- Surprised, shocked, or alarmed
- Resistant, opposing, divergent to comply or follow
- Refusing profusely, with the unwillingness or disinclination to accept
- Emotional exhaustion, physical tiredness, or weariness
- Negotiation, dialogue, debate, or conciliation, and
When faced with the uncertainty of changes, it is human nature to first be alarmed by the unknown. Some of the emotions associated with the initial resistance to adapt are shock, dismay, disillusion, perplexing, and confusion. Your body might also react to the resistance to adapt by showing a decrease in body temperature, or an increase in palpitation, triggering a defensive reaction, such as the fight-or-flight response. During the resistance stage, you seek all possibilities—including divine intervention—to explain why this is happening to you. Your resistance might result from emotions such as fear, anxiety, insecurity for the unknown, feeling helpless for the lack of choices, worried, nervous, may be excluded from the decisions and exposed to comply.
Your refusal to accept the changes and unwillingness to even cooperate leave you insolated, vulnerable, maybe depressed, and hurt. Depending on the situation, you might feel powerless and somehow victimized, resentful, and disappointed because you might feel you are being forced into an unwanted and unexpected situation that you feel not ready for.
Then, there is the emotional exhaustion and, with it, the feeling of tiredness and weariness. Here, you start feeling unfocused. You might lose interest because you’re feeling out of control. You might feel rushed, overwhelmed, and stressed, to the point where you feel like giving up. During the exhaustion stage, you might experience emotional breakdowns that could be externalized as either sadness or angriness or any other form of negative emotions.
And then, there is the negotiation stage, where you are doing everything you can to keep everything as it is because of the security and certainty it gives you. During this stage, you argue your motives, trying to convince others to see things from your perspective and viewpoint. Failure to adapt prolongs stressful situations. It causes sleep disturbances, irritability, severe loss of concentration, restlessness, trembling that disturbs motor coordination, fatigue, jumpiness, low startle threshold, vulnerability to anxiety attacks, depressed mood, and crying spells.
Acceptance is the last stage of struggling to adapt to changes and new environments. After accepting the changes and starting your journey through adaptability, other emotional intelligence skills also come into play. You enable yourself to adjust to the new changes and effectively begin seeing the benefits of adjusting efficiently to those changes.
Adaptability is not only for the workplace but also for your personal life. It involves a sense of adjustment, changing your sensory and perceptual visual and mental adaptation system. For example, after breaking up a long-term relationship, you have to readjust your routine and adapt to life on your own without the dependency of the other person. Or, after losing a job where you worked for years, you have to change your routine to include the new changes that might involve something as simple as changing your favorite coffee shop or lunch place. Unfortunately, adaptability also includes deeply emotional situations, like, for example, learning to live with the loss of a loved one. The secret is not to fight it but learn to adapt to it. Fighting it will only create periods of suffering and concurrent activities that threaten your overall mental, physical, and emotional stability.
Keep an open mind. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. The world keeps changing and evolving. It is nearly impossible that you or your environment will not change with it. Don’t force what cannot be. Keep in mind that changes and adaptability are part of your daily life. Allow yourself to try new people, new environments. You don’t have to like it to try it, but you have to adapt to it. Try to enable yourself to meet new challenges and learn new things. Push yourself each day to do one thing that you had never done before. By doing so, you are exposing and training your brain to be receptive to new things and changes. Learn emotional intelligence. Adaptability involves self-awareness, self-management, self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, stress-management, social-awareness, relationship management, and the ability to control your impulses, all of which are emotional intelligence competencies.
Dr. Iberkis Faltas