Emotional instability: effects of unresolved emotional issues

Experiencing unpleasant emotions is part of life and cannot be viewed as a psychological problem. In fact, it is part of what allows us to avoid situations that can harm us, and it is also part of what motivates us to improve our situation in times of crisis. That is why no one should go to the psychologist just because they feel sick every now and then.

However, when the mood swings are very sudden, very frequent, and very pronounced, it indicates that there is a poor dynamic in managing emotions. This is what happens, for example, with emotional instability caused by the build-up of unresolved emotional issues; let’s see what this phenomenon consists of.

    Why does emotional instability arise?

    To experience an unstable emotivity, subject to rapid changes towards states of well-being and discomfort in situations which do not justify this reaction, is a psychological phenomenon which occurs for several reasons. For example, it is one of the hallmarks of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, and can also be triggered by the use of certain medications.

    However, also it can be caused by anxiety disorders, or even by psychological complications that do not meet the diagnostic criteria at all of a particular psychopathology. In fact, it’s relatively common for the root of the problem to have unresolved emotional issues, which can build up over months or even years.

    What is the reason for this? One of the consequences of dysfunctional stress and anxiety management is emotional instability. When our nervous system gets into the dynamics of always keeping us alert and paying attention to possible signs that something is wrong around us, it predisposes us to fall into ruminant and obsessive psychological thoughts.

    In other words: it makes us more vulnerable to intrusive thoughts that, in a very short time, they put us “on the defensive” for what might happen to us. It leads us to constantly review our memories and explore disturbing hypotheses through our imaginations. It can anchor us in a mixture of anticipatory anxiety that feeds on the one hand, and on the other hand, generates fear of making decisions and doing the wrong deed at key times.

    Emotional instability too makes us very sensitive to mental ideas and images that can trigger our anxiety levels. And and from this psychological state one can pass to a mixture of anguish and sadness (if one thinks of the difference between what one would like to feel and what one feels), guilt (if the it is assumed that the discomfort that we suffer and / or that we have caused is our entire responsibility), fear (if we think that not acting quickly can cause us to suffer much more), etc.

      Emotional instability and unresolved psychological issues

      As we have seen, this tendency to experience sudden mood swings is due to a dynamic accumulation of problems, a “snowball effect”. When we feel vulnerable about something that has happened to us that has left an emotional imprint on us that causes discomfort, it is easy for many things that happen to us to make us think about what made us suffer.

      In this way, these emotionally painful memories become more reinforced and associated with the way we think about the world and about ourselves, so that there are more situations that can cause us to bring up these contents of our memory (which are always automatic and involuntary).

      From this vicious circle, we were caught in psychological ruminations. Because it is difficult for us to deal with the negative emotions these memories produce in us, we gradually give up interacting with our environment in a way that allows us to stop feeling bad, and we focus on combating discomfort through introspection: we try to suppress anxiety, to stop thinking about what makes us sad, etc.

      But this is not an effective way to overcome unresolved psychological issues, as it is impossible to fully control our emotions. And at the same time, we lose opportunities to act to improve our situation through concrete actions that allow us to assume our responsibilities, ask for help, anticipate the accumulation of tasks and manage time well. , etc.

      To summarize, psychological or resolved issues attract more unresolved psychological issues, because they lead us to:

      • Focus our attention on how we feel bad, rather than possible solutions to the here and now.
      • Trying to avoid anxiety in certain memories, putting off our responsibilities.
      • Do not ask for help when we need it, as we are obsessed with trying to feel better through introspection rather than interacting with the environment.

      Therefore, the stimuli capable of making us think about what worries us and generates us anxiety multiply, and that’s why in a matter of minutes, we can go from feeling good to feeling really bad.

        What can be done in psychotherapy?

        In psychological therapy, it is possible learn the emotional management skills necessary to prevent emotional instability due to unsupervised psychological issues from eroding our quality of life. The main ways to try to achieve this are as follows:

        • Training in time management and task scheduling.
        • Anxiety management training based on the acceptance and non-avoidance of emotions.
        • Cognitive restructuring so as not to feed too guilty belief systems.
        • Learn techniques that allow us to move from guilt to a proactive and constructive problem-solving mindset.
        • Social skills training to appropriately express discomfort and know how to ask for help.

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