Stability Isn’t About Finances or Status, It’s About How You React.
What comes to mind when you think of a stable life? Maybe you think of balanced relationships or a secure job with a nice title, and a big house? Although it is important to be stable, do these things really define stability?
I argue that none of these things are stable. Relationships can crumble, layoffs occur, and homes get foreclosed. I don’t believe we can rely on these things with 100% certainty.
The best thing that you can do for all of these areas of your life is to clearly define what stability is and solidify what steps are needed to acquire it. So, what exactly does it mean to be stable?
Let’s first clarify what stability is not: Stability is not the alleged “dream” lifestyle that many strive for, as mentioned above. We’ve seen this fall apart a few times. (The housing crash of 2008 is a good example of that.)
The issue is that this lifestyle relies on external factors. People’s emotions, the housing market, the company stock and so on. You can affect these things, but you cannot control them.
Here is how Dictionary.com defines these words:
Realigning Our Thoughts on Stability
I propose that we align ourselves internally with this definition of stable. I call this, being a stable individual. If you are stable, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—then the rest of your life will be better, even when failures occur.
Stable Individuals are not emotionally-reactive. Instead they think through issues logically and calmly. They are viewed as stable, regardless of the environmental changes. Unlike the unstable person, who only appears stable when everything around them is going well. Check out these descriptions below:
They react to obstacles with reasonable emotions and an underlying calm. Even with the stress of a situation, they think clearly. Usually, they began addressing the issue within five minutes of it occurring.
They become flustered when problems arise and began addressing the issue within fifteen minutes of it occurring.
They react emotionally to all types of problems and begin to think unrealistically. This person can often have a distracted mental state which delays reaction time. They began addressing the issue within thirty minutes (or more) of it occurring.
Many people fluctuate between these levels, but we should strive to be stable. Below, I’ll explain two situations to illustrate the differences between the primary reactions. I’m going to talk about Lucy (the unstable individual) and Petunia (the stable individual).
Lucy appears stable when things are going well. Today, she came home to find her boyfriend who was upset. He tells her that he got laid off from his job. Now that things aren’t balanced, Lucy begins freaking out. She cries in her flurry of emotions and is now fighting with her boyfriend.
Not responding well resulted in a fight that could severely damage her relationship. Additionally, she wasted time battling with her boyfriend when he could have been looking for a new position.
Petunia is a stable individual. She came home to the same news from her boyfriend. Although distraught, she recognizes that everything will likely work out. She comforts her boyfriend, who is more stressed than she is. Things will be better if they work together to take the steps towards getting him the next job. Since Petunia responded calmly, this resulted in a closer relationship and potentially a shorter period of unemployment for her boyfriend.
You can see how being a stable individual should have a healthy effect on many areas of life.
Story Time – Testing My Own Theory
Imagine yourself at work, minutes before your lunch break. You check your phone and realize you’ve missed a few calls and have some voicemails.
First Voicemail: “This is your neighbor, you need to come home. Your dog is okay.” What do they mean by your dog is okay?
Next Voicemail: “This is Officer Johnson, give me a call immediately” Why are the cops calling? Something is wrong. You call the officer back, and they tell you that someone broke into your home and that you need to return home to complete a police report.
At this point, you’d have a solid excuse to break down into tears! Unfortunately, all of this is precisely what happened to me.
Although I don’t ever want this to happen again, it did give me an opportunity to put my stable individual theory to the test. I did cry, and was in shock but knew that I had to rush home. I called my husband to pick me up, then called the onsite officer to advise him when we would arrive. I was emotional during this process, but I responded as a stable individual.
My three original qualifiers were:
Begin addressing the issue within five minutes: I started making calls as soon as I listened to my voicemails.
Thinking clearly: I was already asking (the police) questions and thinking about the next steps. Including how to collect our items that they found on the perpetrator and outside of our neighborhood.
Reasonable emotions, typically with an underlying calm drive: I wasn’t necessarily calm on the surface as I was shaken up by the event. It wasn’t absurd for me to be shocked by the news, but it would be unreasonable if I let these emotions get in the way of addressing the issue promptly. I responded as a stable individual because my shock didn’t stop me from thinking clearly and taking the necessary next steps.
Once I arrived home, I was calmer but wasn’t sure how to react then I realized the oddities around the house. For example, the trespasser giving my dog a pile of crunched up chips and an ice pack from the freezer after turning off the air conditioning and water main. Weird, I know.
Thankfully, the most critical items were returned to us, and the intruder was caught. Anyhow, I am happy with how I responded, and I hope it never happens again.
Stabilizing Yourself – Becoming a Stable Individual
To be a stable individual, first and foremost, you must become more self-aware. How do you respond to smaller stressful situations? What would that look like on a large scale? How did you identify the stressor initially?
You must develop a good perspective too. For example, something that is scary and new should be viewed as an exciting challenge.
Here is one system that covers both self-awareness and developing good perspectives. This won’t work for everyone, but it can give you an idea of how to track your responses. Then adjust accordingly to find what works best for you.
This system requires a notebook with three tally pages and a checklist of questions.
First, when you encounter an issue, review a checklist of questions:
- Is this a problem or a challenge? (It’s always a challenge! This question is the mindset adjustment.)
- Have you encountered this challenge before?
- If yes, how did you address?
- If no, has anyone else ever solved this issue? (The answer is nearly always yes.)
- Can you / do you have to address this alone?
- If no, who can help you?
- Think of two reasonable solutions, but first think of one insane solution.
- Everything will ultimately work out fine! This last bullet point is to poke fun at the problem, as well as any unrealistic thoughts and emotions associated.
- For example, I have a small roof leak next to my skylight. My insane solution is to remove the entire skylight window and tarp the roof. This is the most unreasonable solution ever, but it’s funny and now seems manageable in contrast.
Second, based on the checklist, response time and emotional state, did you respond to this as stable, partially-stable or unstable? Add a tally mark to the page titled with the group you were in.
If the tally mark was under partially-stable or unstable then, add a single sentence to summarize what the holdup was. At the end of the week, spend some time digging into the root cause of the different delays. Was it a fear that needs to be worked out? Or a habitual delay? This is a good point to review the checklist of questions to work out the deeper problem.
This tracking system should trigger ideas that will get you to think more actively about how you react to the world around you. A small mental reminder fits me best, just a sticky note that says “Stable Individual” helps me make adjustments in my mindset.
Whichever process you take on to become more stable, you will undoubtedly be better off. This practice is to help people take more responsibility for the influence they have on their own lives and the world around them. Don’t let the world push and pull you with its regularly fluctuating ways. Own the changes and actions you can control directly. Ultimately, it comes down to being a stable person, rather than wanting the world to be stable for you.
About the Author
Lacey Jade is a wife and chihuahua mama with a love for psychology, self-development and writing. After completing a personal development writing program, Lacey Jade began to see small ways that all pieces of life can be improved upon. She continues to find new ways to grow and teach others the same through example. Lacey Jade is the writer for LaceyLanzo.com and TheWhimsyReader.com