Psychological Flexibility! Wait What? This Ability Can Help with Your Success

Facing Fear

Since this is a very stressful time of year for students, I will be focusing on the Emotional Intelligence category of Stress Management, which includes the following three sub-categories: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance and Optimism.

Let’s chat about Flexibility, particularly Psychological Flexibility which means participating in the present moment fully (not past or future thoughts), and based on what the situation needs, making a choice to change direction or keep going on a path leading to your intended goal. In everyday language, this means holding our own thoughts and emotions a bit more lightly, and acting on longer term values rather than short term impulses, thoughts and feelings. Change your mind in the moment to reach your long terms goals. The ability to adapt and make small decisions along the way can make all the difference.

Ok, I’m going to get a wee bit Psych-Nerdy on you now…

Brain Nerd

You were warned 😉

Kashdan and Rotterburg (2010) did some pretty cool research in this area and define Psychological Flexibility as the measure of how a person:

…adapts to fluctuating situational demands

…reconfigures mental resources

…shifts perspective, and

balances competing desires, needs, and life domains. 

This means that you need to assess the current situation and make decisions that will better lead you in a direction that is beneficial to you in the long run.

You are probably thinking…


because I said so


No Really!

Low Psychological Flexibility, has been found to be linked to many difficulties such as…

  • higher anxiety & general worry
  • poor work performance
  • inability to learn effectively
  • substance abuse
  • lower quality of life
  • depression

Brain GuyWant to Learn to be More Psychologically Flexible?

Well, there are many ways, but I am going to focus on 3 ways you can get started learning techniques and strategies that can help you to become more adaptable and flexible. Helping you to take on challenges and grow into the best version of yourself.

1. Cognitive Restructuring or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) 

Ideally, the best way to learn Cognitive Restructuring strategies (CBT) is to find a skilled CBT counsellor to work with. Mohawk College Counsellors are skilled in this area!. If you don’t have access to a counsellor, check out these two fantastic self-help sources!

There is this really awesome YouTube Channel called PeakYourMind created by the impressive and dynamic Martin Sosa. Please check him out! Here is one to get you started. Warning…you will become addicted to his charm, knowledge and real strategies that work. He is pretty awesome 🙂

2. Mindfulness

This is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, and using this information to manage stress, calm anxiety, make healthy decisions and increase overall wellbeing. My colleague wrote a great blog on Mindfulness a few weeks back: Check it Out! 

Also, here is a great TedTalk on the importance of 10 Mindful Minutes by internationally respected Mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe.

If you are finding that you are developing an obsession for learning more about Mindfulness…go to the absolute source, the Mindfulness concept creator and Guru, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, for more strategies for developing and infusing Mindfulness in your life. He is also amazing!

3. Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy is a technique in behaviour therapy used to treat anxiety disorders. It involves the exposure of the person to the feared object or context without any danger, in order to overcome their anxiety. This is essentially “facing your fears” in safe, emotionally manageable steps that help you to be able to cope with distressing situations.

This is best done with the help of an experienced counsellor/psychotherapist/psychologist, but I know that this is not always possible so here is a great source to help you: Click Here. Check out the Systematic Desensitization topic. There is a great example of an Exposure Hierarchy, “Facing a Fear of Flying”.

Blessed are the Flexible

Again, thank you so much to those who have emailed me comments or “liked” my blog post! 

Each week, I really look forward to hearing from you.Keep the questions and comments coming!


Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.

Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through



Kashdan, T., & Rottenberg, J. (2010). Psychological flexibility as a fundamental aspect of health Clinical Psychology Review, 30 (7), 865-878 DOI: 10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.001

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