Do you also freak out while in a stressful situation?
Are you quick to blame yourself or others for whatever wrong happens in your life?
Or, you get annoyed at life for minor setbacks and are always complaining?
If yes, then you have a lot of emotional growing to do!
But, how to develop emotional maturity?
Well, living in an ever-evolving and the unpredictable world requires us to adapt to it frequently. However, the adaption to the changing environment, which is often unpleasant, can be quite a task for most of us. But, there’s one psychological trait that can help you navigate through the stressors of life smoothly and that is ‘Emotional maturity.’ Developing emotional maturity is pivotal to living a contented life. So, let’s look at what is emotional maturity? And how it can be developed? To make sense of the world around us and live a contented life.
What is Emotional Maturity?
When we hear about emotional maturity we immediately picture a person being in control of their emotions. While ‘Control’ here does not mean restraining your emotions or suppressing them. However, ‘being in control of your emotions’ means acknowledging them but, responding in a manner appropriate to the situation.
Emotional maturity helps you adapt to and respond aptly according to a situation, keeping in mind how your reaction can make the event further hostile or pleasant. It helps us manage our emotions, make informed decisions and take appropriate actions according to the situation and the people involved. Summing it up in the words of the American Psychological Association, ‘it is a high and appropriate level of emotional control and expression.’
10 ways to develop emotional maturity
1- Identify your emotions
While being in an unpleasant situation we are going through a mix of feelings that are hard to identify. Our body is in an arousal state. So, everything we do as a reaction doesn’t come from a place of sense or rationality. In such situations to avoid any further inconvenience, it is best to be aware of your feelings first.
Identify your emotions. Know how it feels inside your body. Does your heart pounder fast? Do you feel palpitations? Or is it a tightening and suffocating feeling? Knowing how, where and what you go through while being in an arousal state is the first step to taking control of the situation. When you know that the response you were about to make came from a place of anger, displeasure, resentment, or stress, you are less likely to act out your emotions.
Once you recognize your own emotions you’ll be better able to navigate any unpleasant and stressful situation. You would be able to communicate well and understand how others feel too, developing relationships based on mutual understanding. Identifying your emotions not only helps in self-awareness but also develops social awareness, where you finally understand where the other person is coming from.
So, be aware of your emotions before acting them out. Usually, regret is the only feeling left with us when you act impulsively or do and say things that you shouldn’t. It is better to be aware of where the reaction is coming from to take control of your emotions and build emotional maturity.
2- Seek growth
After you’ve recognized your emotions, the second step is of seeking ways to improve them. There’s nothing wrong with seeking growth because we humans continue to evolve with each passing day. You might have been a completely different person while you were in your teens. Similarly, you are a different person as a professional adult than you were as a college student. The point here is to drop the shame and mend your ways if you find something faulty. After all, not a single human on this planet is the epitome of perfection. But, having a growth mentality is necessary to embark on any life-changing mission.
So, recognize what’s wrong within and try improving it. Know when you are about to act impulsively or do something just to please someone around or because it is a norm in your culture. Look at people who have always been in trouble just because they were too restless to even think for a second before reacting. See how their irrational behavior landed them in hot waters. Know how their impulsive behavior has just been added to their list of regrets and try doing better.
Only if you dare to identify and change your thought pattern would half the battle be over. The more conscious you become, the more you have the agency or the will to change and develop emotional maturity.
Related; Let go of things you can’t control
3- Question your beliefs
Think about how you have been raised. Is it normal to shout at your family members while under stress? Is it normal to slam doors and walk away in the middle of a conversation? Do your close ones get offended when someone criticizes their work? Is complaining about anything and everything considered normal around you? Well, though our parents, teachers, and mentors try bringing out the best in us, they often are the ones whose actions contradict their words.
So, although your mother might be advising you about staying calm when faced with a stressful situation, she might be the first one freaking out when placed in a similar situation. The point here is that nobody’s beliefs are correct. Even if their beliefs are, their actions might be strikingly contradictory.
The next time you face an unpleasant situation try picturing how your father would have reacted to it. Would he be the first one to panic? Or will he be ensuring everyone around them that nothing comes without a solution? Once you realize how your surroundings have enforced the problematic behavior within you as a child, only then you would be able to change the immature emotional outburst and grow emotional maturity.
4- Accept reality
Oftentimes, our emotional immaturity is the result of our running away from reality. We adopt an eyes-wide-shut strategy while facing any uncomfortable and unpleasant situations. But, despite your interpretation of how you see things, the reality stays reality. It is the truth that is meant to be accepted the way it is.
Resisting and complaining about things that you have no control over make life even harder. It confuses you and makes the situation even more complex than it is. Nevertheless, the denial and avoiding attitude gives these things immense power over you. Your life gets stuck around them only to make matters worse than they are.
Start by taking things at face value. Instead of avoiding problems, start addressing them rationally. When you start taking ownership of things in your life, you start acting rationally. Also, accepting reality makes it easier to deal with negative thoughts and events as Mental Health America suggests. So, realize and accept the reality. Stop playing the blame game rather, meet difficulties head-on. After all, it is easier to blame someone else if something goes wrong, but it is harder to take the charge and be committed to changing it.
5- Be responsible
Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. The choices you make about how you think and respond in a particular situation tell a lot about your level of responsibility. While It is being wary of the ramifications of your decisions. It is also accepting the consequences of your choices. Responsible people seldom go back on their words or make hue and cry about how people ruined their life.
Responsibility comes from a place of belief in yourself. It is also about building your potential, emotionally and physically, although, it might be hard for you initially to act responsibly. But, if you achieve this feat, it would be your biggest asset and the best thing to build emotional maturity.
So, be aware of your thoughts and actions. Understand that what you feel is solely because of you, not because of anyone else. Realize what you do will eventually influence your life. Stop doing anything out of compulsion only to blame and complain about how you were forced to take such steps. Between an event and your response is a moment where you have to decide whether to let life take control of you or whether you want to step ahead and make choices to fulfill your self-interests.
And before jumping on to anything in the spur of the moment, think
a) What options do I have?
b) What could be the possible results?
c) Do I have any other options?
d) What did similar decisions in past led to?
This approach will help you address any problem in your life while being completely responsible for the outcomes.
6- Develop empathy
While it’s easier to just judge others and blurt out whatever you are feeling, it’s difficult to be in their shoes and come from a place of empathy. Empathy refers to the ability to sense other people’s emotions and imagine what they might be thinking or feeling, as Greater Good Science suggests. But, how does understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings helps you build emotional immaturity? You might have thought this.
Well, empathy helps you understand the intentions, perspectives, and acts of other people which is essential to express your emotions as per the situation. For example, if you as a boss are empathetic towards your subordinates, you would understand why they couldn’t put their 100% into one particular project despite having a proven track record. Instead of lashing out on them would call them and discuss if there’s a problem in their life. You get emotionally aware of your surroundings and start looking at things from their perspectives.
So, instead of seeing the world around you through your lens try stepping into someone else’s shoes to grow emotionally. You would realize that people around you are just as human and prone to suffer the brunt of this life as you. Which can sometimes make them rude and the situation hostile for you. However, if tackled empathetically your response would be in alignment with the situation and people involved. Catering to yours’ and other people’s needs as well.
Related; 10 Most desirable qualities of an ideal person
7- Learn from your mistakes
Think about your past. Had any key moments impacted your life decisively? What choices did you make back then? What consequences did it have? Did you have other options? Probably you would not be so proud of some choices you had made earlier. But, looking back you now realize that they didn’t come from a place of rationality but were entirely the product of the circumstances.
Learn from your mistakes if you want to improve your emotional maturity. Realize how acting impulsively previously had landed you into trouble. Once you realize and accept where you went wrong you become a lot more conscious of the decisions you make in the future. It allows you to realize that mistakes are learning opportunities. Compelling you to never act impulsively or surrender to the situation just for some instant gratification.
A part of learning from mistakes is associated with the notion of being responsible. Because when you are responsible you realize that the fault was yours, not someone else’s. This is when you start questioning things to know where you went wrong. And ironically, most of the time it is our knee-jerk reaction that is the underlying problem.
So, although thinking about your past mistakes might be uncomfortable but this would surely help you improve your emotional maturity.
Related; Powerful habits to learn from your mistakes
8- Act consciously
Acting consciously requires us to make choices that serve the best of our long-term self-interest. Be aware of your wants and needs. Be clear about your goals and desires. Acting consciously requires us to take action, no matter how insignificant the step might seem to you today. But, in the larger scheme of things, when you connect the dots you realize how even your one single tiny step leads you to where you are today. The foundation of acting consciously thus lies in knowing what you want from life.
Ask yourself what you aim for? What your dreams are? What is important to you? And how would you achieve that? Once you recognize what you want, you then take steps that lead you closer to them. Not because of an impulsive reaction. And no matter how insane or foolish your decision may seem right now, years later you will realize how it paved the way for you.
So, act consciously rather than reacting impulsively. Act on emotions rather than acting out emotions. Once you realize how your clarity of vision will help you act consciously you’ll start thinking about even the tiniest of things in your life. Acting consciously and keeping the bigger picture in mind might not be easy always, but it can be beneficial to reinforce your vision frequently.
Related; 7 Ways to Level Up Your Mindset
9- Change your company
As social beings, we get influenced by people around us. Sometimes their attitudes get ingrained in our subconscious mind to the point where we start behaving like them. It is therefore advisable to change your company if it is detrimental to you. You may have shared some likeness with them when you befriended them but with time you evolve. Your ideas and beliefs might differ now. Thus, while you decide to embark on a journey of emotional maturity, staying in the same company of people who are not quite good at handling their emotions can be a setback to your progress.
So, change your company if you believe the people you hang out with are not good at managing their emotions. Look to people who you think handle emotions smoothly, the way you would like to someday. Seek the company of people who are better at handling grief. Those who know how to overcome their emotional challenges. Seeking the company of emotionally mature people would eventually help you build and increase emotional maturity. When you admire someone you are more prone to modeling their behavior as well.
Reading about ways to develop emotional maturity is one thing. However, acting on these ways to improve emotional maturity is not an easy feat to achieve. Regardless, being able to control your emotions helps you achieve a sense of emotional strength that you might have never experienced before.
So, no matter how immature you are today, you can always work on managing your emotions by acting on these 9 life-changing ways. Master your emotions today and experience the freedom and happiness that comes with it. Because now instead of being controlled by the situation you are controlling the situation!