Emotional Stability


Neuroticism is one of the Big 5 personality traits. Emotional stability is the opposite of neuroticism. When we feel emotionally stable, we feel more safe, more positive, more happy, and more at peace with life. We tend to have a more positive image of ourself and of the world around us. The world feels like a good place to live in, and we feel more good than bad about our life in general. There may be things that we want to change, but on the whole, we are happy with ourselves.

When we have low emotional stability, we tend to feel more badly about the world and about ourselves. We tend to worry and experience anxiety. We struggle to accept difficult experiences and take longer time to overcome hardship. Mistakes and issues bother us more than most, and we think more about them than the emotionally stable person would. A neurotic person is more sensitive to emotions and finds it more difficult to disregard or ignore emotions. 

The Neurotic Personality Type

Having emotions is nothing bad in itself, and emotions can serve as important guides. Nerves are a natural part of when we are about to hold a speech. Some anxiety is normal when we want to do good at a task. If negative emotions served no purpose, we wouldn’t have them. Negative emotions are “stakes” like your body letting you know what the risks are in a situation, reminding you that no, it’s not just a speech, it’s not just a test, it’s something that is important to you.

And lots of studies indicate that so called neurotic people – who are more prone to mood swings and to uncontrollable emotions – are more open to change and to adjust ahead of a negative situation. Where more stable people are likely to ignore the emotions and to keep calm and to keep going forward, neurotic types will make changes and adjust. Could it be that there is a downside to the self-control of the emotionally stable person? Is there a downside to the “control”?

The emotionally stable person

At the same time, in many scenarios things do get better. While things may seem bad in the moment, things pass. Think of sailing an ocean. When the waves are a little unruly, it can make sense to keep a steady destination forward. But when you start really seeing bad clouds up ahead, it can be worth quickly switching course. I think of the example of the boiling frog.

The neurotic type may quickly notice the water getting hotter, and will try to jump out of the boiling cup. The emotionally stable one may not notice until it’s too late, and may become a boiled frog. But it may also follow that the neurotic type is missing out on the chance to relax in a nice hot tub. So the emotionally stable person is in my opinion a person who can feel overall more at ease with life and can experience less changes and obstacles. But the emotionally stable person may not be more happy in general. An ending thought is this: I think emotionally stable types may find it more difficult to change a peaceful,  but slightly boring or depressive lifestyle. 

Are neurotic types more creative?

Are artists and creative types more neurotic? A larger meta-study overviewing all the findings on this subject concludes “no”. Creative types are not more prone to mood-disorders. Personally, I can add to this. I consider myself first and foremost a creative type, but I have also always been a fairly emotionally stable person. So most like, we can also conclude that emotionally stable people can be equally creative.