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Are You Emotionally Unstable?

If you have been given a diagnosis, or if you think you might suffer from emotional instability, often referred to under the headings of EUPD or Borderline Personality Disorder, you might find this interesting.  In my view;

  • These kinds of emotional states are acquired.
  • We generally don’t suffer from emotional instability because there is something wrong with us,
  • We suffer it as a consequence of things that have happened to us.
  • However, we might not be very clear about what those things were.

With your feet on the air and your head on the ground

Try this trick and spin it, yeah
Your head will collapse
But there’s nothing in it
And you’ll ask yourself

Where is my mind?
Where is my mind?
The Pixies; Where is My Mind?

Typically these emotional states are acquired as a response to living through complicated, often traumatic childhood experience

If you suffer from this kind of problem you will likely have lived through periods of your life that were profoundly unsettled.  And, there was probably a lack of help available to you.  If you were left managing disturbing emotional states for prolonged periods without getting any help or proper acknowledgment of what you were going through, it may well have left a near-permanent mark on your mood and psychology.

  • If emotional stability is kicked away from under you it’s very hard to get it back.

But you can learn to balance your emotions better

  • You can learn to be clearer about what you have been through
  • You can learn to develop a perspective on your emotions

As you do this you may acquire greater balance, but that does not mean that everything is repaired.  Or that you can now take emotional stability for granted.  It just means you are getting better at keeping your balance.

In my experience, it is more helpful to learn to develop a perspective on your moods and emotions than anything else.  This might be a life’s work, and that may make it sound like a life sentence.

It might be a good life’s work

  • Can these kinds of problems be addressed through positive psychology?
  • Through meditation and Mindfulness?
  • I think you can develop a helpful mindset.
  • I think you can keep sight of your basic condition and problem,
  • but I don’t think you can remove it.

I think the best course of action is to work with someone who can help you to grasp a clearer sense of the way you tend to lose your emotional balance and stability.  Remember:

  1. This is an acquired response to earlier conditions and experiences.
  2. It is helpful to develop a clearer understanding of your emotional and psychological life story.
  3. If we can remember that we are prone to losing our balance then I think we can learn to live better.
  4. It is possible to start to learn to spot when something has upset your balance.
  5. You can start to recognise how you tend to feel when it happens.
  6. The more you work on this the more you can become better at rebalancing.

This doesn’t mean that you will stop losing your balance.  You will still have the experience of falling flat on your emotional face when you least expect it.  But it may become easier to pick yourself up again, to start to find your balance again and to carry on.

It will probably be helpful to work with a psychotherapist who has some experience in this area.

You might find it helpful to do a bit of homework and to go to any therapy sessions that you arrange with some questions in mind.  You could prepare a summary of how you think you have acquired this emotional response. How you got here.

  • Medication is unlikely to help this.
  • There isn’t anything wrong with you.
  • The problems you suffer from are to do with things that have happened to you.

If you are someone who suffers from problems maintaining your emotional equilibrium; don’t give up.  You can work on this.  You can become better at managing your emotional balance and equilibrium and you may come to find that it is very satisfying and meaningful work to do.  Good luck.


Are You Emotionally Unstable?

Toby Ingham

Toby Ingham is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and supervisor based in High Wycombe in England. Toby works on both a short and long-term basis with people who are trying to work through a variety of situations. Sometimes these relate to a specific event such as CPTSD, bereavement, divorce or redundancy, sometimes relating to a more general problem or behavior. He blogs on a wide range of psychological themes.

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APA Reference
, . (2019). Are You Emotionally Unstable?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Dec 2019
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