3 Keys to Emotional Stability

How to stay grounded in times of stress

Mission
Mission
Nov 16, 2017 · 6 min read

Originally published by Stephen Guise on his personal website.

Simply put, if you aren’t emotionally stable, life will be difficult.

Emotional stability is vital to a good life because without it, you are prone to emotional breakdowns, which can spiral and ruin a season (or more) of your life. Emotional stability is the boxing equivalent of being able to take a punch, stay grounded, and not panic.

3 Keys to Emotional Stability

Here’s how to keep your composure when life gets tough.

1. Adjust Your Perspective

Our immediate emotional response to negative life events is often stronger and more negatively charged than it needs to be. That’s because we rarely expect things to go wrong in any given moment, but they sometimes do. To counteract this, I recommend a perspective shift, which might look something like this.

  • Your car broke down: Only 10–20% of people in the world even own a car. You’re very fortunate to even have a car! Of those who own cars, many others have surely had worse and more inconvenient breakdowns. Plus, it can be fixed. This incident is not as terrible as it feels right now.
  • Your S.O. broke up with you: Think about the good times you had. Think about the lessons you’ve learned. Think about the excitement of now being a “free agent” again and finding someone even better suited for you.
  • You fractured your foot: Hey, fractures can heal! Plus, you finally have a legitimate excuse to binge on that TV series. You also have time to catch up on your reading backlog and write that novel. A healthy foot beats an injured foot, but there are still positives to consider!

Every situation has many possible perspectives. I think by default we tend to pick the worst one because negative events bias our mind to negative thoughts about those events. But if we consider other, more positive perspectives, we can reverse this negativity cycle. Look for the positives in negative situations — they’re there!

Beyond the specific situation, you can always look to your foundational blessings to help balance out your emotional state. Foundational blessing? I haven’t heard of it either. I just made it up. In my defense, I think it’s fitting and descriptive.

A foundational blessing is something in your life that you can always be thankful for: a great family, excellent health, money in the bank, a job you love, or an adorable kitten, for example. These are the blessings you can count on. Then, when life slaps you in the face, you don’t have to focus on the slap — you can look at your foundational blessings to see your life from a broader point of view. When your car breaks down, you can think about your awesome family, and suddenly, the car is more of a minor nuisance than a devastating blow.

2. Check Your Expectations

Those who let the downs of life ruin their day (or year) clearly weren’t expecting a roller coaster. If you expect a calm walk in the park and find yourself on a roller coaster instead, it can be jarring and upsetting.

It’s not that roller coasters are so bad, it’s that you weren’t expecting one.

But what if you expected uncomfortable bumps, occasional downturns, and scary dips in your life? You wouldn’t need to expect or predict them at any specific time, but rather be aware that they’re common occurrences for all people. Naturally, the less surprised you are at negative events, the less emotionally reactive you’ll be when they do happen.

They call it rolling with the punches, and you can’t roll with a punch that catches you off guard. Emotionally stable, strong people are never shocked to see a punch come their way, and that’s why they don’t freeze like a deer in the headlights when it comes.

Those who expect that life will have challenges and disappointments will be the most resilient and emotionally stable among us.

3. Create An Action Plan

While it can be difficult to do things in this state, you should still be able to start forming a plan of action. What steps can you take to improve your situation? You’ll find that simply clarifying your intent is enough to create a powerful spark inside of you that can lead to action.

Moving life forward is key to emotional health because it’s the ultimate sign that you haven’t given up. When we are inactive, we signal to ourselves and the world that we’ve given up for now. Giving up is obviously a disheartening idea, so don’t let yourself become inactive for too long after a negative event knocks you back. Small steps forward are infinitely better than no steps taken at all.

I’ve found that much of my emotional health is driven by my activities. When I’m in a “down” state and I don’t do anything productive, my lack of productivity reflects my mental state and it reinforces it. When I’m in a down state and I force myself forward anyway, my actions contradict my down mental state and a new (better) mental state is formed to align with my actions.

Thus, creating action plans and taking action are very helpful to reinforce your emotional health and stability. I especially notice this benefit with exercise, as the resistance of weight represents the resistance I feel in my life. It really pumps me up and puts me in that fighting stance!

Emotional Stability Recap

2. Check your expectations. Are you expecting a smooth, linear, predictable life of goodness? Well, it won’t ever happen to anyone. The next time something bad happens to you, think of it as a challenge instead of a huge problem. Be ready for challenges, and they won’t catch you off guard.

3. Create an action plan. This is the counterattack. We can’t merely take punches and expect to win. We have to punch back! Going on the offensive is the #1 way to show life that you aren’t scared or weak. Even if you feel scared or weak — as we all do sometimes — taking action will simultaneously build your confidence back and create exciting new opportunities.


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Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to…

Mission

Written by

Mission

Stories & podcasts that make smart people smarter: www.Mission.org. The Mission Daily: www.apple.co/2KMXjhQ. The Story podcast: www.apple.co/2HEcveQ.

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

Mission

Written by

Mission

Stories & podcasts that make smart people smarter: www.Mission.org. The Mission Daily: www.apple.co/2KMXjhQ. The Story podcast: www.apple.co/2HEcveQ.

Mission.org

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org

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