Emotional stability leads to cognitive consistency. Cognitive consistency leads to behavioral predictability.
Predictability can be a loaded term. Some people think it is negative. Some people think it is positive. I think it is positive, within limits.
This is the third post in a series on basic needs in relationships. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 if you missed them. The inspiration for this series came from two of my professors at Western Seminary.
Here are the basic ideas that I started with:
- Volatile people have no emotional stability. Reasonable people have emotional stability.
- Confusing people have inconsistent thinking patterns. Understandable people have cognitive consistency.
- Unsafe people are unpredictable. Safe people have behavioral predictability.
The Need for Behavioral Predictability
You will feel unsafe in a relationship if you think you are rolling dice every time you say or do something. You are gambling. Hoping that the dice come up in your favor. You hope the other person will like what you said. You hope the other person will appreciate what you did. But they might not. You might not know why.
Unsafe people are like dice. Unpredictable. Safe people are not like dice, they are predictable. Safe people are predictable, and not boring.
Limit Behavioral Predictability
Too much predictability is boring. “Variety is the spice of life.” So there is such a thing as being too predictable.
Too little predictability and you will be unsafe. Too much predictability and you will be boring.
Good Predictability starts with Stability
Emotional stability is the ability to feel intense emotions without coming unglued.
Cognitive consistency is the ability to follow a similar “route” from an emotion to an action. This route is your thought pattern. Given a range of emotions, you will think about them consistently, and act predictably.
The chain is feeling, thinking, doing.
You need to be able to fill in these statements:
- I feel _____ (emotion) because _____ (event).
- I think _____ (thought pattern) because I feel _____ (emotion).
- I do _____ (action) because I think _____ (thought pattern).
- What helps you to draw the line between unsafe and predictable?
- What helps you to draw the line between boring and predictable?