Oct 012008
 

Let’s kick off a new series, “Developing emotional maturity – part 1 of many”.

What is emotional maturity? Emotional maturity isn’t something that necessarily grows with chronological age, i.e. you don’t get more emotionally mature when you get older. Some adults are very emotionally immature; some have never matured emotionally.

And, you can’t tell someone that. Telling an emotionally immature person they’re immature will get an explosively immature reaction. Childish. Not a pretty sight. And it’s too bad. It’s those emotionally immature people that need a lot of help, but how in the world do you help them? They have to want the help, like the alcoholic who has comes to the point of admitting they need help.

There’s a lot to unpack about this topic, as I began looking more closely at it, and as I review my own journey of emotionally maturing. Not to say that I’ve arrived.

I do think about this topic, and have to say that I haven’t come across great books or teachings on this. Don’t recall any classes or seminars on this. And, it seems that cultures have different categories for emotions and feelings, if the difficulty of navigating both Asian and American cultures is any indication.

Before I find out how does someone develop emotional maturity, let’s consider what emotional maturity looks like. From my quick scan of the Web, these are my tentative thoughts in process:

  • Emotional maturity is being responsible for one’s behaviors– both actions and words.
  • Emotional maturity is NOT controlling one’s emotions. It’s controlling one’s behaviors and choosing to act in a way that doesn’t impulsively give in to reactive feelings.
  • Emotional maturity recognizes it’s okay to feel. It’s human to feel the full range of emotions. It’s not okay to act out immaturely, definitely not illegally.
  • Emotional maturity seems to go hand-in-hand with developing mental health.
  • Emotional maturity doesn’t mean every person will feel the same way about a situation / stimulus / idea. There’s some kind of relationship between core values and emotions / feelings. Would you believe values can change?
  • There’s probably a fine difference between emotions and feelings, but it’s too close to call for me, so I’m using them synonymously. Add a comment to explain otherwise, ok?

James Burns says, Emotionally Mature People Are Responsible. Excerpt below:

Emotionally mature people accept responsibility for their actions. They don’t look for excuses for their behavior. There may be reasons or circumstances why emotionally mature people act in an irresponsible way, but they don’t waste time making all kinds of excuses. Emotionally mature people don’t feel victimized by circumstances or other people. Even when circumstances or events are difficult, they deal with them without resorting to blaming others. … It becomes the responsibility of the individual to overcome difficult circumstances that were not really the fault of that person.


One overly simplistic but sorta fun way to find out how emotionally mature you are is to take an online quiz. Here’s my results:


You Are 60% Grown Up, 40% Kid


You’ve grown up a good bit, but you still have a way to go before you’re emotionally mature.
You have the skills to control your emotions, you just have to use them.
Whenever you feel yourself acting out, just stop. It’s really that simple.
Acting like an adult is all about doing the best you can.

Um, see, I’m not there yet. I can sure use all the help I can get, very open to getting help.

Aside: “How Can I Be More Emotionally Mature?” was asked at Yahoo Answers and people responded with a random lot of suggestions. Doesn’t quite do it for me.

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