Some people get to a certain point in their lives when they realize that they are not as emotionally stable as they would like to be. If you get really angry at unfortunate times, fall into deep sadness, or find yourself so disgusted that you can't participate in normal everyday things, then you might be one of those people who can benefit from an emotional overhaul.
To become emotionally stable, you must be willing to drive headlong in the opposite direction of becoming emotionally expressive, if only temporarily.
Emotional instability is caused by a lifetime of trying to control your emotions. Controlling your emotions, tamping them down or limiting yourself to short periods of expression, for years or decades causes emotions to back up. Humans require regular emotional hygiene, and if you haven't been doing that kind of thing, then you are probably backed up emotionally.
Emotional hygiene is a practice of allowing yourself to feel all the way to the bottom of whatever emotion is present for you.
It’s a common belief that some people are just “highly emotional” by nature while others have a more balanced temperament.
And while there are likely some genetic influences on how emotional we are, the much bigger influence is something most people don’t realize:
It’s your habits that determine how emotional you feel, especially your mental habits. Emotionally unstable people may get lost in spirals of worry and anxiety, they might get stuck in bouts of depression and low mood, or perhaps they get angry and upset at the smallest stress or difficulty.
But it’s been our experience that what leads to all this emotional instability is a collection of subtle but powerful mental habits. Usually, these habits were learned and reinforced long ago in early childhood but never got unlearned.
Thankfully, anyone can learn to become more emotionally stable. The key is to identify and eliminate these unhelpful mental habits that cause so much excess emotional suffering.
Let go of these 5 habits and you’ll discover that you are a far more emotionally stable person that you ever imagined — capable of experiencing all your emotions without getting overwhelmed by them.
Believing everything you think - Just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true.
As humans, our ability to think rationally and creatively is one of our greatest strengths. Without it, we wouldn’t have Beethoven’s sonatas, democratic forms of government, the novels of Charles Dickens, or a cure for polio.
But for every interesting, creative, or even genius idea our minds produce, it also generates hundreds, if not thousands, of silly, irrational, or just plain bizarre thoughts that have no meaning whatsoever.
Here’s an example: 2 + 2 = 5.
If you read that, the thought “2 + 2 = 5” was in your head. But the simple fact that you thought it doesn’t make it true.
Of course, it’s not just irrational thoughts that our mind produces: the mind is also capable of generating thoughts that are actually unhelpful or even downright evil. Thoughts can lead to concentration camps and chemical warfare just as easily as Habitat for Humanity or the Peace Corp.
The point is this:
Your thoughts are not inherently true or helpful. And to assume they are is a recipe for emotional suffering.
When you assume every thought your mind throws at you is true, you end up thinking more about that thought.
If an irrational worry about your spouse dying in a car crash on their way home from work pops into your mind, your habit of believing all your thoughts is going to lead to a lot of excess anxiety.
If an irrational judgment of a coworker pops into your mind, your habit of believing all your thoughts is going to lead to a lot of excess frustration and possibly rude behavior.
If some negative self-talk about a recent mistake you made pops into your mind, your habit of believing all your thoughts is going to lead to a lot of excess guilt and shame.
Overthinking is at the root of most forms of emotional suffering. Stop believing that all your thoughts are true, and you’ll stop overthinking so much
Hygiene Habits You Need to Build- Everyone experiences painful emotions. Becoming a more emotionally stable person means that you improve your relationship with your emotions by cultivating healthy ways of responding to them:
- Don’t believe everything you think.
- Stop judging yourself for how you feel.
- Not everything has to mean something.
- Give up trying to control everything.
- Make decisions based on your values, not your feelings.
The trick with hygiene is continued, sustained effort. It’s not that one time isn’t valuable, it is. But continued effort, is needed to create a pathology prevention practice. If you want to improve your personal hygiene, or help a child develop better habits, these strategies might be helpful:
Set reminders- If you can’t remember to do things like shower, wash your hair, clip your nails, or brush your teeth, set a reminder on your phone. The cue will push you to the activity, and over time, you’ll begin to do it yourself.
Use signs- Hang a reminder in the bathroom to wash your hands after using the toilet. Put a little sign by the plates or bowls in the kitchen to cue yourself to wash your hands before eating. These signs can help jog your memory and improve your habits. They can help both you and your children.
Practice makes perfect- It takes time to learn a new habit. Start with a new habit at the beginning of the week and make it your priority. Practice it for a week or two. When you feel comfortable with it, add a new one. Overtime, you’ll establish the habits you wish to have.