What is emotional maturity?
Sometimes, we observe someone’s behavior and reactions and come to the conclusion that they are immature or don’t seem to want to be an adult, but what does emotional maturity consist of?
What is it really like to be an adult? These are the main characteristics of people who have reached adequate emotional maturity:
- The emotionally mature person has a developed identity, knows who he is and tries to be faithful to himself and his values and to live and behave accordingly and not according to fashions or whatever the group to which he belongs dictates.
- He knows how to distinguish between reason and emotion and, although he can choose to be carried away by one aspect or another, as he prefers, he is able to choose instead of being dominated by emotions or trying to control them by resorting exclusively to reason. In other words, it has the right balance between reason and emotion.
- Has realistic goals and objectives to achieve and plans and carries out the actions necessary to achieve those goals, not just words or fantasies. Your goals help you make sense of your life, achieve things, and improve your situation. On the contrary, people without goals live much emptier and less meaningful lives.
- They are not passive and dependent people, but independent and assertive, able to recognise their own rights and fight assertively for them. They do their best to recognize their faults and mistakes and seek solutions to their problems instead of blaming others or complaining. They ask for help when they really need it, and willingly accept it, but they don’t ask for help unnecessarily. They don’t feel at the mercy of others, they feel they own their own lives.
- They establish peer-to-peer relationships, while more immature people often establish the role of parent or child in their relationships with others. Emotionally mature people relate to others through their own independence and individuality. They are self-sufficient people, who can be alone and fend for themselves, but who may choose to share their life with someone. In their relationships they give and receive equally, they are capable of both giving and receiving love, help, comfort, support, etc.
- They are not easily offended or especially affected by negative criticisms or comments from others, because they have good self-esteem, know how to recognize their failures and accept them, know how to take themselves with a sense of humor when necessary, know that they are not perfect and, in general, have a good opinion of themselves that is not easily cracked by negative comments.
- They have an open mind, they are tolerant, they are willing to consider new ideas, to change their way of doing things if they see that there is a better one, they take into account the views of others, they accept constructive criticism and learn from it. They are willing to make changes if they consider it appropriate and are able to abandon certain behaviors that are harmful.
- They seek personal growth and development, are aware of their positive and negative aspects and try to be better people, learn and know themselves better.
Instead, the emotionally immature person continues to live his or her life as if he or she were a child. That makes him feel dependent, at the mercy of others, without personal power, seeing the world as a threatening place and himself without sufficient capacity to face it.
The world seems to him to be controlling and dangerous and he ends up being a tremendously unfortunate person. He is afraid of loneliness, of having his own opinions and defending his own ideas and does not recognize his own worth as a person because he feels weak.
The road to maturity
The path to emotional maturity inevitably involves separation and loneliness. Knowing how to be alone without feeling alone is one of the main steps towards maturity. If you think you’re not emotionally mature enough and want to do something about it, here are some clues:
Recognize your immature reactions and behaviors. Exaggerated emotional reactions, however justified they may seem to you at the time, are an indication that something is wrong.
If, for example, you become excessively angry because someone has not done for you what you expected them to do and you feel abandoned, then it is very likely that you are operating in a childish mode, waiting for someone to solve your problems for you, take care of you or protect you.
If you need help ask for it in an open and friendly way, but take responsibility for solving your own problems and your life in general.
As you go about exercising self-sufficiency and independence, solving your problems on your own, looking for your own solutions, etc., you will see that your self-esteem increases, as well as your sense of self-efficacy and capacity, and you will be less afraid of life and the world.
The more capable you see yourself facing the world for yourself, the less afraid you will be and the happier you will be. As you can see, it’s a matter of practice.