Emotional maturity is about your ability to understand and manage your emotions. When you have emotional maturity, you’re able to manage your responses instead of making knee-jerk reactions. You can make sensible decisions even when it feels hard.
Unfortunately, age isn’t always a reflection of emotional maturity. It comes with life experience as well as the willingness to learn and grow. You have to practice it, learn to heal our emotional pain, and slowly develop the character traits that allow you and your relationships to thrive. It’s a long process, but the rewards — meaning, happiness, joy — are worth the effort.
How do you know if you’re emotionally mature? Here are 12 signs that show you’re on the right track:
You aren’t afraid of your emotions.
You are fine if you start to feel emotional, because you know that emotions are normal, that we all at times feel sad, angry, joyful, thrilled, disappointed.
You recognize that each emotion has its own gift. Sadness helps you recognize joy, and anger helps you know where you need to set a boundary.
You control your emotions, instead of being controlled by them.
You know how to let an emotion rise without overwhelming you. And you don’t have to immediately offload that emotion, either. You can sit with it, explore it, get to know it.
And you can share it when you are ready to do so, in a constructive over destructive way.
You allow vulnerability in.
Perfectionism tells us to stay in a box where we feel comfortable, certain and in control. It tells us to manipulate our environments so we never feel vulnerable, needy or uncertain. It keeps us safe from our fears of failing, embarrassing ourselves or getting rejected. And sadly, many of us miss out on a lot of life because of this.
At some point in our lives, we realize that showing emotion, admitting we are struggling and asking for help are not signs of weakness but acts of courage.
You’ve created a space between feeling and reacting.
Through practicing mindfulness, we can increase the amount of time between feeling a particular emotion and reacting to it. We gain a sense of spaciousness with regard to how we observe our emotions.
Rather than clinging to our feelings immediately and reacting instinctively, we learn how to first observe, and then react more carefully and productively.
You accept your mistakes and take responsibility.
It’s far easier to get defensive and deny responsibility, or become overwhelmed with shame for our act of imperfection or ignorance. Being able to acknowledge when we’re in the wrong takes humility, self-honesty and courage.
An emotionally mature person is able to own up to their own mistakes and not immediately look to blame others. If things keep on going wrong, an emotionally mature person will look inwards for answers as to what thoughts or actions may be contributing to the situation and works towards a better understanding and course of action moving forward.
You let go of the small stuff.
Letting your mood be hijacked by minor irritations and inconveniences is a choice you make. Eventually, you learn to pick your battles and rise above the daily hassles that have the potential to keep you in a permanent bad mood.
Learning to pause, take a breath and make a conscious choice about your next step before reacting emotionally is a skill we should all be cultivating.
You stop caring so much about what people think of you.
It’s not that any of us wants to be disliked, but with maturity you grow to accept that despite your best efforts, you still won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Rather than living your life based on other people’s opinions or preferences, or seeking anyone else’s approval, you accept yourself fully, act authentically and make decisions that work for you.
You cut people some slack.
Emotional maturity means realizing that each and every one of us is living in a crystal tower. No one is perfect, everyone has bad days and most people are doing the best they can with what they’ve got.
It’s a sign of maturity when you can give people the benefit of the doubt and forgive their imperfections.
You forgive people easily.
The world isn’t filled with good and bad people, just people. We all shine one day and then disappoint the next. Our environment greatly shapes our choices.
When others make bad decisions, look to their context, not their character. When that happens, show people compassion, and give them the benefit of the doubt. It makes life less of a battle and more of an expedition.
You know your problems won’t matter as much tomorrow.
Tomorrow can be good, but today is just a day. One in a sea of sunrises, each of which brings its own problems but also washes some of yesterdays away.
Presence is great when we use it to remember our smallness. Make tiny choices today. Fix something small. Take a walk. Get away from the big picture. Tomorrow will be a new day.