how to develop emotional maturity

Continuing the series on “Developing emotional maturity – part 2 of many”. [cf. part 1: what is emotional maturity?]

I think I’m (mostly) right there are (practically) no book titles with the words “emotional maturity.” There are a few self-published books about this topic. Strange.
And, there are quite a number of books on “emotional intelligence” and on “emotional health“. 2 that makes the vital connection between spiritual life and emotions are Peter Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.

Turning to the web, here’s a couple things I found on how to develop emotional maturity. When looking at information on the web, it’s not automatically reliable, even if it is in the wisdom-of-crowds moderated Wikipedia. Or, shall I say, especially if. Caution aside, here’s what the wisdom of the world wide web turned up about developing emotional maturity.

eHow‘s has this article with 4 steps to emotional maturity:

how to become emotionally mature

  1. Avoid getting easily offended.
  2. Stop giving your joy away.
  3. Use reason to govern your actions, instead of emotion.
  4. Do not bite the bait.

I’m being facetious, and I hope they are too, because emotional maturity is much more involved than 4 easy steps. How about 7 steps? [from adoption.com]

7 Steps to Emotional Maturity
1. Eliminate Magical Thinking
2. Learn to Tolerate Your Anxiety
3. Learn to Recognize and Appropriately Express Your Anger
4. Learn to Cope With Pain and Hurt
5. Facing Your Guilty Feelings
6. Learn to Live With Your Failures
7. Put Your Feelings in Perspective

From another perspective, How to Develop Emotional Maturity (from iLoveIndia)

Anyone can develop emotional maturity in oneself by keeping a track of certain points, given as follows.

  • Work hard to achieve your goals. Life is not a fairy tale where magic wands do wonders.
  • Start accepting your tensions and worries. Don’t avoid it just to get momentary relief. Work over your stress and anxiety, and handle them.
  • Start recognizing and expressing your anger. Otherwise, you’ll become afraid of yourself after a certain point of time.
  • Learn to bear pain and hurt because life is full of uncertainties. You never know what lies in store for you.
  • Face the consequences of the things you’ve done. Understand your responsibility and learn from your mistakes.
  • Learn to accept you failures and engage yourself in better actions. Keep a positive approach and be helpful to others.
  • Make your own viewpoint from your feelings. Comprehend that the world is really big and one can actually not identify with the things, people etc.

Um, so what does emotional maturity look like, and where does doing the above things get you? The traits and characteristics below seem to be good descriptions:

Emotional maturity is not something that is automatically given to someone when they turn 18. Emotional maturity is something that we must develop in our lives by knowing how to respond to situations in a mature and responsible manner. Three factors that define emotional maturity are:

  • Ability to Face Reality — Acceptance
  • Ability to Relate Well With Others
  • Willingness to be Honest with Ourselves

This list below has 10 traits of emotional maturity, from a dating site called bookofmatches.com:

How do you recognize emotional maturity? An emotionally mature person will have many of the following traits:

  • Knowing what one wants and making it happen
  • Thinking before acting and having control over one’s behavior
  • Self-reliance and the ability to take responsibility for one’s life and actions
  • Patience
  • The ability to connect with others in a cooperative and positive way
  • Genuinely caring about others and demonstrating that ability
  • Honesty and living by one’s principles
  • Having moderation and balance in all things
  • Having the ability to follow through, even when it is difficult
  • Humility and the ability to say, “I was wrong. I am sorry.”

Other ideas perculating for future posts on emotional maturity: how about emotional intelligence? How about emotionally healthy spirituality? why we’re so emotionally messed up? relationships forge emotional maturity. Anything else you’d add?

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21 Responses

  1. If we walk with God, even when we're emotionally messed up, we still have hope. It's the years that I lived spiritually messed up (far, far from God) that NO messed-up seemed hopeful.

  2. djchuang says:

    Heather, thanks for your comment. Agreed that we have hope when we're with God and God's on our side. Another way to say what I was trying to say is, that part of a maturing spiritual life should also include emotional maturity too.

  3. j. says:

    not quite directly on point, but david powlison has terrific articles (via the journal of biblical counseling) on how to see the gospel as a crucial part of the way we deal w/ our “felt needs” (to use a counseling term) & become emotionally/spiritually mature beings.

    the thesis in all of his writing is that emotional maturity can't be separated from spiritual maturity b/c how we react to things emotionally is always going to be, at the core, a matter of the heart — what we truly believe about the gospel. a google of david powlison should unmine some good PDFs.

  4. M. Neuman says:

    Good information. Thank you!

  5. anthony says:

    nice. i really need this.

  6. anthony says:

    hi DJ Chuang! very very nice! all i need now is to practice. by the way mr Chuang. my family name is also Chuang. is that your family name too?

  7. anthony says:

    Sir can anyone please explain “Eliminate Magical Thinking”. thanks.

  8. djchuang says:

    @anthony, yes, my family name is Chuang. My Dad comes from the province of Fujian.

    As for eliminating magical thinking, I think it has something to do with having a reality check. We have to get rid of overly idealistic thinking and realize how things work in the real world, and how things don't work. (This is not to say we don't pursue dreams.)

  9. thony says:

    well said DjChuang. now, how can you educate people with that kind of thinking? i know people who choose to hurt (emotionally) people. even married couples does that to each other. right?! any suggestion?

  10. paulo31 says:

    that's a very nice work!!!!!
    Do well and enjoy doing it……

  11. dr.bindhu says:

    Very good useful to all

  12. Paul R says:

    I’m bothered by the comments by people who confuse emotional maturity with a relationship with god…That is another part of “magical thinking”.

    For many years, I prayed and prayed to God for help with my problems, but no help ever came. I realized that by praying, I failed to take responsibility for my own actions, instead relying on something outside of myself to magically fix me. I realized that if God couldn’t help me, then I would have to help myself. If I couldn’t help myself, then I was unhelpable.

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