If you ever felt like someone hates you because they did not reply to your message, then you may be having issues with emotional permanence.
Emotional stability is the foundation of a happy, fulfilling life. It allows us to bounce back from life’s challenges, build meaningful relationships, and experience joy in the present moment.
Unfortunately, not everyone grows up to have a naturally resilient emotional temperament. This is where emotional permanence comes in.
Growing emotional permanence helps develop healthy boundaries and promotes emotional stability and resilience in our relationships.
What Is Emotional Permanence?
Emotional permanence is a psychological concept that describes the secure feeling of being loved even when our loved ones are not physically around. It tells us that feelings come and go, but our essential self remains unchanged.
Emotional permanence assures us that our feelings and connections with others have not come to an end when we do not get to see them, but continue to exist even when they are away from us at the time.
This mindset allows us to approach our emotional experiences in a more healthy and helpful way, instead of becoming overwhelmed or consumed by the presence or absence of the person causing them.
Emotional permanence is what most of us have.
However, there are some people who do not have it. They need constant reminders that they are loved; else, they may assume that it is gone.
A lack of emotional permanence is called emotional impermanence or emotional permanence deficit.
What Is Emotional Impermanence or Emotional Permanence Deficit?
Emotional permanence deficit is when a person cannot understand or appreciate an emotion if they are not actively experiencing that emotion.
It refers to the belief that your emotions, positive or negative, are temporary and will pass.
So, a person who lacks emotional permanence cannot feel what happiness is unless they are happy in the moment.
These people know that they have experienced a particular emotion several times in the past. They may even explain what symptoms people exhibit when they have that emotion.
But they find it difficult to describe how it feels to go through that emotion themselves.
So, if such a person is sad, they continue feeling sad because they cannot recall how the many shades of happiness and joy felt.
Most such people have an anxious attachment style, borderline personality disorder (BPD), bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Those with borderline personality disorder can often be seen struggling to try to recall a loved one without them being present or without them assuring them.
They can feel unloved or abandoned when they are not with their friend or partner physically.
Strange Effects of Emotional Permanence Deficit
A lack of emotional permanence causes two strange things:
1. Unable to understand the presence of two opposing emotions.
First, they cannot reconcile with the fact that a person close to them can love them and still be angry with them sometimes.
Perhaps because they drove home instead of getting a cab while drunk. Now, when she’s angry at him, he might think, “She can be angry at me because she doesn’t love me.”
They may find it difficult to revisit or reflect upon the tender emotions that their loved one has for them while they are angry at the person lacking emotional permanence.
2. Repeating the cycle of need for reassurance and urge for rejection.
Second, these people ultimately wear off the constant validation of the other person’s love which they need in the first place. Their minds begin to reject the reassurances after receiving them a certain number of times.
Now, since they cannot recreate the feeling on their own, they feel unloved once again, and start craving validation again.
This creates a cycle of reassurance and rejection of the other person’s validation.
This behavior can be traced to a fear of abandonment instilled in early childhood. It can create relationship issues like clinginess and neediness to numbness and isolation to avoidance and sabotage.
Signs of Emotional Permanence Deficit
Overall, people with emotional performance deficits have problems maintaining stable relationships.
- They seek constant validation and reassurance.
- They get caught in extreme emotional turmoils.
- They have difficulty regulating their emotions.
- They cannot remember feeling good when being sad.
- They cannot understand that two emotions can exist simultaneously.
How To Develop Emotional Permanence (And Deal With Emotional Permanence Deficit)
Here are some helpful ways to cultivate our emotional permanence:
1. Self-assurance: It is okay to ask sometimes, “Do you care about me?” But remember, your value does not always need validation from others. You can assure yourself too.
Assure yourself with these,
- “I made a mistake because I’m not perfect. It does not mean I am unlovable.”
- “They may be angry at me, and saying harsh things, but they still do love me.”
- “They may need to be away from me for some time, but they will not leave me. So, I don’t have to be afraid now.”
2. Mindfulness: A regular mindfulness practice increases our awareness of our thoughts and feelings, allowing us to approach unhelpful thoughts in a more balanced way.
3. Reframing: Reframing negative thoughts and emotions can help us see our negative thoughts in an objective or even in a positive way, thereby minimizing their impact.
4. Self-reflection: Regular self-reflection allows us to gain insight into our emotions and thought patterns, thus allowing us a better awareness of our own emotional landscape.
5. Gratitude: Practicing gratitude helps us in focusing on the positive things we have in our lives, rather than craving for things we don’t have, thereby decreasing the impact of unpleasant emotions.
See a mental health therapist. If you feel overwhelmed, seek the advice of a mental health therapist. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
What Are The Benefits of Cultivating Emotional Permanence?
There are several benefits to cultivating emotional permanence:
- Increased emotional stability: By viewing emotions as temporary, individuals are less likely to become overly invested in their feelings, leading to increased emotional stability.
- Improved relationships: Emotional permanence promotes a more balanced approach to relationships, allowing individuals to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts in a healthy way.
- Better decision-making: When individuals are not ruled by their emotions, they are better able to make rational decisions based on logic and reason.
- Increased resilience: The ability to bounce back from life’s challenges is at the heart of emotional resilience, and emotional permanence is a key component of emotional stability and resilience.
- Better Mental Health: Cultivating emotional permanence can have a positive impact on our mental well-being. When we are good at regulating our emotions, we are less likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety. Growing it can also build a strong foundation for personal growth and success.
What Is Object Permanence?
Object permanence is a skill that develops in early childhood. It indicates the knowledge that an object exists even if it is hidden from sight. To have it, a child must be able to build a mental representation (or schema) of things.
For example, if you show a child a toy and then hide it in a towel, they will search for it under the towel if they have developed object permanence. Another example is the boisterously happy expressions you get when playing peek-a-boo with an infant.
Object permanence is similar to emotional permanence.
Infants lack object permanence up until the age of 2. Between 2 and 4, a child can understand, remember, and picture objects in their mind without having the object in front of them.
According to Piaget, there are four stages of normal intellectual development.
1. Sensorimotor stage (0-2 years)
2. Preoperational stage (2-7 years)
3. Concrete Operational stage (7-11 years)
4. Formal Operational Stage (11 years to adulthood)
What Is Object Constancy?
Object constancy is the ability to retain a bond with another person — even if you find yourself upset, angry, or disappointed by their actions.
It is the ability to maintain an emotional connection with and have positive feelings for people we care about even when we are physically apart from them, or when they have hurt us.
Narcissists lack object constancy and whole-object relations, which means they cannot form a stable, realistic, and nuanced view of others.
The lack of these two together makes a narcissist fluctuate between devaluing and idealizing themselves and others.
So, when narcissists are away from their partners, they may feel a total emotional disconnect from them.
A short absence may signal total abandonment to them. It is not just a phenomenon of out of sight and out of mind, but also out of the heart.
Emotional impermanence may lead us to have false beliefs like “I am unlovable.”
In turn, that false belief can make us give up trying to build a relationship since we fear being ultimately abandoned.
But when we view our emotions as temporary, we can adopt healthy coping mechanisms.
Start with realizing that your beliefs are not always telling you the truth. Include mindfulness, reframing, self-reflection, and gratitude in your daily routine.
In time, you can develop greater emotional stability, improved relationships, better decision-making, and increased resilience.
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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — a medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher, who writes on mental well-being, happiness, positive psychology, and philosophy (especially Stoicism).
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