Emotional stability builds closeness and trust in almost all of your important relationships.
We all think, act, and feel. Some people feel more than they think. Some people think more than they feel. Some people act before they think and then feel lousy later.
All that means is that when we’re dealing with pain of some sort, there are three possible starting points for dealing with that pain:
When we’re children, the most important people in our lives are our parents. For better or worse, they are the first people that most of us learn to relate to. Later in life, it’s our spouses, the leaders we follow, and the people we lead.
What is important early in life, is important later in life, just in different ways. Aside from food, clothes, and shelter, children need three basic things from their parents:
Likewise, spouses need stability, consistency, and predictability from each other to function well. And followers need stability, consistency, and predictability from their leaders in order to get the job done.
Emotional stability does not mean having no emotions. It also does not mean that emotions are felt lightly. It means that strongly felt emotions won’t cause a person to come unglued.
Emotional stability does not mean that you’re Captain Spock, but it does mean that you’re not Chicken Little. It means you might feel insane, but you won’t act insane.
The problem is that since emotions are internal, you can’t know what people are feeling until they tell you. But you can make an educated guess based on their behavior.
Consider reading: 8 Things Emotionally Stable People Don’t Do (which inspired the points below).
Don’t take these lists as dos and don’ts to impose on others. Always check yourself first.
Leaders and Emotional Stability
Emotionally stable leaders:
- Don’t take things personally. Accept criticism with confidence.
- Don’t tolerate gossip. Refuse to listen to, or start gossip.
- Don’t panic. Learn how to lead in crisis.
- Don’t exaggerate how good or bad things are. Judge things realistically.
- Don’t confuse present emotions with past failure. Debrief past failures to learn from them.
- Don’t seek to escape change. Drive change.
- Don’t pretend to be perfect. Get comfortable with imperfection.
- Don’t self-hate. Build a team that compensates for your flaws.
Spouses and Emotional Stability
Emotionally stable spouses:
- Don’t take things personally before you understand where your spouse is coming from. Get context first.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Tolerate discomfort for the sake of growth.
- Don’t use threats or fear of divorce as a trump card in arguments.
- Don’t exaggerate how good or bad things are. Be clear and honest about how you feel.
- Don’t project pain from past relationships into the present one. Allow each other to make your own mistakes, for your own reasons.
- Don’t panic when seasons of life change. Encourage each other.
- Don’t pretend to be faultless. Take responsibility for your choices.
- Don’t accept all the blame. Take responsibility for your choices only.
Parents and Emotional Stability
Emotionally stable parents:
- Don’t expect too much of your children. No one benefits when you expect a 3 year old to act like an adult.
- Don’t expect too little of your children. No one benefits when you allow a 17 year old to act like a 7 year old.
- Don’t threaten consequences that you can’t impose. Follow through on reasonable discipline.
- Don’t protect your children from natural consequences. Be happy to let authorities outside the family be the bad guy.
- Don’t get surprised when they sound like their own parents. Be humble enough to admit mom and dad were/are right.
- Don’t helicopter parent. Let your kids learn from small, inexpensive failures.
- Don’t pretend to be perfect. Let your kids see you learning from your mistakes.
- Don’t dwell on every parenting mistake you make. They focus on getting it right at least half the time.
- Who are the examples of emotional stability in your life?
- How has emotional stability helped you preserve relationships?