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How to Cultivate Emotional Stability (Even When Life Gets Crazy)

Withstand difficult situations, handle adversity, and remain productive and capable throughout.

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BY Quora - 09 Feb 2018

How to Cultivate Emotional Stability (Even When Life Gets Crazy)

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

How can I be emotionally stable? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nicole Gravagna, Neuroscientist, author of MindSET Your Manners, on Quora:

Emotional stability is a desirable trait. It means you can withstand difficult situations, handle adversity, and remain productive and capable throughout.

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.

Here's an example. George finds himself stuck in sadness a lot of the time. He's unmotivated, depressed, and not interested in participating in his life most days. George has a habit of letting only a tear or two fall during sadness before he pulls himself together and puts on a strong face.

George's life has included a lot of sad events. He lost his mother recently. His nuclear family broke up when his only other sibling died as a child and the family couldn't withstand the stress of loss. He didn't get a chance to live a carefree existence as a kid because there was so much sadness in his family. In all of this, George never allowed himself to reach the depths of his own sadness. He always felt like he had to be strong.

As a result, George's unexpressed sadness comes back when he least wants it to. He's not emotionally stable. He descends into a pit of despair when he encounters everyday frustrations.

To become more emotionally stable, George is planning a few months where he will express his sadness fully (privately). He has no idea how long this will take. His progress will depend on his ability to sit with his own sadness instead of escaping into alcohol or his other ways of coping.

Here's how he'll express his sadness fully. Each time George finds himself feeling a wave of sadness, he'll see if he can get some time to himself. He'll lock himself away for 15 minutes or an hour and he'll think about the saddest things in his life. He'll cry, full-body, ugly tears until he can't squeeze any more sadness expression out of his body. Then, he'll go on with his day.

Most people have one emotion that sneaks up on them and creeps through the cracks when they least want it to. You may have anger, or sadness, fear, or disgust. It doesn't matter which emotion or emotions you are feeling. You can set aside private time to feel your emotions fully. With each expression of emotion, you start by thinking the ugliest most painful thoughts and let the feeling take you over. You don't act out the emotion - acting out anger is like throwing things or breaking things - instead you let the emotion soak into your skin. You can let it ooze out of your pores. You let it take you over without damaging yourself or other people, or property.

Then, when you are done feeling all the way to the bottom of your current emotions, you can pick up and go on with your day. The deep ugly emotion sessions go on for a few weeks or months depending on how much emotion you have built up. Then, once you feel through it all, those old emotions are gone forever. You never have to go thorough this process again.

After doing this process fully, you will experience emotion differently. Emotions won't feel painful or overwhelming. Instead, they will just feel like slightly inclement weather. Emotion becomes the music playing in the background, not the whole show. You'll be able to be sad without it taking over your whole day. You can be angry for a minute and get past it in the moment without shouting at anyone or saying mean things. After going through this process of clearing out old emotions, you will find that you are emotionally stable without any daily effort at all!

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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