Characteristics of Emotional Maturity
Developing the following essential characteristics will help you gain emotional maturity:
No real change can occur without self-awareness. Our subconscious habits will not allow new changes to take place because they keep us in old cycles of behavior. If changes do occur without awareness, they are most likely default changes that happen automatically because external events triggered different internal responses.
However, if you are self-aware, you can observe yourself and apply changes where you feel they are necessary, instead of waiting for external events. You can take a neutral stance to observe your thoughts, behaviors, actions, and emotions before applying an appropriate response. This is pivotal for emotional independence and maturity. Otherwise, you are like an emotional pinball being knocked around from one side to another by other people’s moods.
Self-awareness is a form of self-education. You begin to understand yourself through observing yourself. And as you understand yourself and why you think, feel, and behave as you do, you have power over your patterns and habits. There is no emotional independence without self-awareness.
Emotional maturity means you accept responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You do not believe your actions are anyone else’s fault. Your life is not a result of your circumstances; you are what you choose to be.
You also understand that your choices have repercussions and that you are the one who has to answer for them. You don’t blame your parents or caregivers for your life. You see that blaming others is a useless waste of time because it changes nothing in your life or circumstances. You’re no longer interested in the comfort of blame. Now, you want results. And you understand that the path toward results lies within you, not with anyone or anything else.
You have also stopped waiting for others to rescue you or comfort you because they are not responsible for your emotions and wellbeing. As you grow more into self-responsibility, it won’t feel daunting or draining. It’ll be a source of confidence, and it’ll energize you.
Emotional independence also includes the power of choice. As someone who is more aware of your patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you can exercise more control over them. You can choose what you want to do with them. You can choose to change them. You can choose to try another option. This gives you a sense of agency over your life.
Emotional maturity and independence doesn’t mean you are in full control of yourself or your life; no one has that. However, you are in more control than when you were automatic and reactive. Now, you won’t keep creating experiences out of habit and then blame everyone else for your feelings. That keeps you stuck and miserable.
As you recognize the power of your choices, you will move from a passive and reactive life to one that is more purposeful and conscious. You will feel your sense of agency returning. You won’t feel like a chess piece on a board controlled by other people and outside circumstances. You will feel more mature and independent.
Self-respect isn’t necessarily about the feeling of respect or pride for who you are. Respecting yourself mostly means you don’t abuse yourself when you fail, make mistakes, or behave in a way you don’t find respectful. It’s about the way you treat yourself. It’s about the way you allow others to treat you as well.
Self-respect is essential because without it, you’re likely to allow others to cross your boundaries, treat you unfairly, and even abuse you. Once you allow that kind of behavior toward you, you won’t be able to start respecting yourself. It becomes a loop that prevents your growth.
Self-respect also means treating your body with respect. It means having compassion for yourself when you’re having a hard time with a problem. It doesn’t involve making or achieving goals, or earning higher income. It has nothing to do with clothes, looks, or body type.
Authenticity is one of the most important characteristics for emotional maturity. Without authenticity, we are likely to confuse others about who we are, what we think and feel, and what we want and need. If we can’t communicate openly and honestly, then our relationships will suffer.
If we are not authentic within our relationships, then we will continue to create instability. Authenticity is an inner grounding that allows for a stable life and stable relationships. When you are consistently yourself, your life becomes consistent as well.
Maturity removes the need for pretense and for pretending to be something we are not. We no longer want to impress others with lies or false appearances. We don’t need to hide who we are because we like who we are. I am me. You are you. And they’re both okay.
Emotional maturity requires adaptability because you cannot grow without it. Adaptability means your thoughts, opinions, and viewpoints are open to change and grow, and you accept unpredictability as a part of life. Being stubborn and unrelenting is a sign of immaturity because it keeps you from growth. “My way or the highway” doesn’t move you forward.
When we only believe something because we have believed it for a long time, it keeps us stuck. Loyalty to beliefs and previous knowledge is disloyalty to your growing self. All human beings are constantly evolving, and we need adaptability so we don’t battle our own natural changes. If we try to deny or stop it by being unrelenting, we stay stuck.
You no longer see things as black and white or right and wrong. Your mind is open to many ideas and opinions, and you do not judge those who might think differently or who choose to live in ways that aren’t familiar to you. You also allow your beliefs to soften to accept the possibility that you may be mistaken at times. You don’t hold your beliefs in such high regards, but realize, instead, that there are a great number of unknown factors that can change your understanding of something.
When we are emotionally independent, we don’t need to walk over others, belittle them, or put them down to feel better about ourselves. Since we take responsibility for our emotions and experiences, we don’t need to use others. We also don’t need to feel above others because that comes from insecurity.
As an emotionally mature person, you’re okay with people having the same rights, the same opportunities, and the same successes as you. You don’t need anyone to be beneath you so you can feel better about yourself. You already feel better about yourself and you want others to feel that way about themselves, too. You desire fairness and equality over competition and superiority.
There’s an important balance between being able to hold a big vision and being practical about that vision. Being a grounded person doesn’t mean you don’t have big dreams; it means you’re practical about the amount of time, work, and help it will take to get there. It also means you are grounded within yourself.
You don’t allow your thoughts and emotions to run your life, taking you from one drama to the next. You are able to find inner balance and peace with yourself. You are able to stabilize your emotions and your life. You’re realistic, but not cynical. You still believe in dreams, but you understand that it takes time and work to accomplish them.
The true understanding of patience is that it’s all about enjoying the present moment. Most people spend their lives in a state of perpetual waiting. They’re waiting for degrees, promotions, the kids to graduate, or retirement. We’re all waiting for something to occur. And when that something occurs, we wait for another something. What we don’t realize is that our lives are happening now, even as we’re waiting.
Emotional maturity involves the kind of patience that allows you to enjoy your life now, even as you await some big event. You don’t revolve your entire life around it. You live your life in the current moment because that’s the only place it can exist. You enjoy it now because now is all you have. You enjoy where you are because it’s where you are now. That’s true patience. If you do it right, you won’t even realize you’re patient.