How To Get Control When You Feel Emotionally Unstable

Updated March 29, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Do you feel like you're riding on a rollercoaster of emotions? One minute, you might be flying high and life may be going great. The next, everything may seem to have fallen apart, and you feel crushed. This can be an indication that you are living an emotionally unstable life. Living like that can be exhausting, and it may not be healthy for you or your relationships. But you can learn how to get control of your emotions.

Emotions don’t have to control you

Signs that you are emotionally unstable

If you aren't sure if this article applies to you or not, here are some signs that you might be emotionally unstable:

Your mood changes rapidly

It might be normal to go through ups and downs throughout the day, but when your mood changes rapidly, it can be a sign that your emotions are out of control and taking you with them. However, there may be other reasons why your mood could be changing rapidly:

  • Mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or personality disorders among others
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Substance use
  • Other health conditions like problems with your thyroid

If you experience rapid mood changes, consider talking to your doctor to start exploring your treatment options. While it could be that your emotions are out of control, there could also be an underlying cause that you don't want to ignore.

You feel out of control

It may not matter what others say or what other signs there are; sometimes, you just know there is a problem. If you feel like you lose control when you get upset, it may be time to get help. These feelings could be a symptom of a larger problem or a side effect of prescription medication. Or it could mean you don’t yet have the tools to effectively control your emotions.

You're impulsive

Emotional instability can lead you to make impulsive decisions. Perhaps your feelings are constantly shifting, and you feel like you're just trying to keep up. Sometimes making a decision can help you to feel like you're in control even if your emotions aren't in check, but you may end up deciding too quickly.


Your actions are inconsistent

When your emotions bounce back and forth, your decision making can do the same thing. This means your actions might appear to be inconsistent. For instance, you may find that you quickly regret things that you have done after doing them. You might even wonder what drove you to certain behaviors in the first place. 

You have difficulty in relationships

Unstable emotions can make it challenging to maintain healthy relationships. When the other person in a relationship doesn’t know what to expect from you, they can be hesitant to interact with you at all. Your inconsistent actions can also make it difficult for people to trust you. 

How to get control of your emotions

If you recognize any of the signs above, try not to blame yourself. You don't need to waste any time feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed. Many people struggle with controlling their emotions for various reasons. For example,  mental health conditions like anxiety and depression could be the culprit. Or you may have never been taught to regulate your emotions as a child. 

Whatever the cause of your instability, the tips below can help you learn how to take back control of your emotions and your life.

Reassure yourself that you have control

Perhaps the first step in controlling your emotions is to start telling yourself that you can. Thoughts can be powerful. If you don't believe that you can control your emotions, then you may end up sabotaging your efforts. It may be beneficial to start reassuring yourself that you are capable of taking control. You don't have to allow your emotions to be in charge anymore.

Focus on your thoughts, not your feelings

You may not realize it, but you can control your thoughts. You don't need to allow thoughts to just come into your head and take up residence. However, this is what many people do because they are unaware that they can choose their thoughts.

If you don't carefully choose what you think about, then your emotions may choose for you. When your emotions are in control, your thoughts might bounce all over the place. Your emotions can control your thoughts, which in turn may control your behavior. But it doesn't have to stay like that.

If you start observing your own thinking, then you may start  to notice problematic thoughts. This will allow you to purposefully stop thinking about those things that may not be serving you well. Instead, you can choose to replace the negative thought with a more productive one. 

This tactic might take a lot of work at first if you aren't used to paying attention to your thoughts. But if you persevere, you may find that it starts to get easier. When you make this effort, you may notice that when you choose your thoughts, your emotions and your behavior will eventually follow. 

Feel your feelings, but don't let them take control

Gaining control of emotions may not mean that you aren't going to have them anymore. Emotions are healthy and something that everyone has. If you try to push your feelings down and ignore them, it can cause various problems, including health problems.

It's okay to feel your feelings, but you might not want to allow them to take control. Instead, consider acknowledging your feelings and try pinpointing why you're feeling the way you are. Doing so can help you to see if your feelings are legitimate or if they're lying to you. Your feelings may not always be true to the situation, and they can lead you to believe things that aren't true.

Practice self-care

If you aren't taking care of yourself, it might be easy for your emotions to take over, leaving you feeling out of control. This is one reason why self-care is so important. You may need to take care of yourself physically and mentally if you want to maintain control of your emotions.

Consider taking time to cover the basics like getting enough rest, getting in some exercise, and making good choices with your food. Then, look for ways that you can get some extra self-care in your life as well. This could mean taking time to read a book, going for a walk with your family, painting a picture, or having a cup of coffee with a friend.

Emotions don’t have to control you

It may be wise to take time for the things that help to restore you and leave you feeling refreshed emotionally. This may help you have more energy and strength in your life, which can enable you to make better decisions when it comes to handling your emotions.

Don't give up

Learning how to take control of your emotions can be a struggle. If you have been living an emotionally unstable life for years, it may not be possible to turn it all around overnight. You might not get it right every single time. Focus on progress, not perfection. 

Get help if necessary

Emotions can be tough to handle on your own. Working with a licensed therapist can help you to learn the steps that you can take to gain control in your life. If you are struggling to make progress on your own, or if you aren't sure how to get started, a therapist can help guide you through the process.

You may be uncomfortable talking to a stranger about personal things like emotions. This could make it challenging to seek the help you need from a therapist, especially in person. Some people report feeling more at ease discussing their problems in an online setting. Online therapy can also be more convenient since appointments are available outside normal business hours. 

Research in the field of mental health supports the use of online therapy as a legitimate treatment option. One meta-analysis of studies found that this form of therapy is as effective as traditional therapy in treating a wide range of mental health conditions and challenges. This includes anxiety, depression, and other disorders that could cause emotional instability. 

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The important thing is that you take the steps that you need to gain control of your emotions—reach out today.

“Lakesha was absolutely amazing! She helped me find myself and realize my self-worth in such a short period! I highly recommend her services; she is FRESH and has amazing insight!”

"My experience with Priscilla has been immensely helpful in better understanding myself and providing me with the tools to see my life and relationships with more clarity and compassion."


Feeling out of control can be frightening, but it’s not something you have to experience alone. Licensed therapists like those at Regain have the expertise needed to know how to handle the situation. With counseling, you can get the support and direction that you're looking for without anyone in your personal life needing to be involved in the process. Or, if you are in a serious relationship and want your partner to be a part of it with you, you can choose to include them. It's up to you.

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