Emotional permanence allows us to enjoy ties, trusting in their strength. When it fails, difficulties appear on the social level related to maladaptive behaviors, with which we try to regain balance, in an environment that we feel is profoundly unstable.
People need to trust the stability of our relationships . Knowing that those who love us will continue to do so, even if they are not present or despite conflicts and discrepancies. This certainty is what is known as emotional permanence and, when we have a deficit in this regard, we can see our quality of life and our psychological well-being greatly diminished.
The lack of emotional permanence makes us feel insecure, on a constant tightrope. It generates strong feelings of anxiety, encouraging us to certain behaviors that go against our interests.
If you experience this problem, the root of it is probably way back in your life history; however, the good news is that today you can start working to reinforce that self-reliance.
People with a lack of emotional permanence feel insecure and are very afraid of abandonment.
What is emotional permanence?
The idea of emotional permanence states that emotions continue to exist when they cannot be observed . This, as we will see later, applies both to one’s own feelings and to those of others. For this reason, it generates mistrust in relationships and significant difficulties in emotional regulation.
It is a concept related to object permanence, a developmental milestone that is fully reached around the age of two. This refers to the infant’s ability to understand that the existence of objects and people is independent of her compactness to perceive them; yes, there is a moment in which we understand that people do not cease to exist when they leave the reach of our senses.
As for emotional permanence, as we grow we learn that feelings have continuity and that “out of sight” does not mean “out of life.” However, for this understanding to be achieved, it is necessary to have caregivers who offer unconditional affection , who are predictable and who allow us to develop that internal certainty and permanence.
When this does not happen, or if there are negative experiences and later unstable ties (for example, with romantic partners), that sense of continuity with respect to oneself and relationships does not develop, or it is compromised. Thus, a series of difficulties arise.
Signs of lack of emotional permanence
There are some indications that can help us identify that a person has problems when it comes to conjugating emotional permanence. The main ones are the following:
Problems regulating emotions
People with a lack of emotional permanence have difficulty regulating their emotions. They tend to get emotionally upset easily and find it difficult to manage conflict . Any disagreement, argument or misunderstanding is interpreted as catastrophic and causes great discomfort.
There is also a difficulty in remembering how an emotion other than the one that is active at the moment felt like. That is, if the person feels sad, depressed or anxious, he does not remember that at some point he did feel happy, calm or happy.
On a cognitive level, he does remember having previously experienced those emotions and can describe them, but it is as if he were describing someone else’s experience. For her, there is only what she is experiencing at that moment.
Likewise, you may find it difficult to understand that two emotions can coexist at the same time. That is, someone can feel angry or upset and at the same time continue to love the other person.
Difficulties in interpersonal relationships
It is in relationships where the consequences are most perceived. And it is that the person has to live with a strong fear of abandonment in affective ties that can be of a very different nature.
It is not possible to enjoy relationships because their stable and constant character is not trusted, and therefore insecurity is always present. Jealousy and a constant need to reassure that the bonds are good and that the other person still feels love can arise.
This quality is also an obstacle to trusting others, in turn arousing an intense rejection of ambiguity. That is, the person needs to maintain and generate relationships that are very well defined . Having doubts about the nature of the bonds produces an intense feeling of uneasiness.
All of the above causes great psychological suffering, as the person feels unloved much of the time. Sad or anxious emotional states frequently accompany her and it is common for her to also suffer from low self-esteem. There is even an increased vulnerability to developing borderline personality disorder , due to this insecure attachment and this construction of emotional permanence that was truncated.
The lack of emotional permanence implies problems of emotional regulation and in relationships with others.
Intervene on the lack of emotional permanence
Fortunately, it is possible to build a sense of trust and work on the idea of commitment and abandonment to improve well-being . First of all, it will be necessary to identify the consequences of the lack of emotional permanence. From this point, and with the intention of changing beliefs and interpretations, it is possible to apply interpersonal efficacy strategies, reinforcing the pillars that support our self-concept.
Some helpful guidelines in this regard include keeping an emotional journal (to check how moods vary), sharing difficulties with loved ones and talking openly about them, and above all, getting help from a qualified professional. However, identifying the vulnerability associated with emotional impermanence will help you to be a better manager of your emotions.