Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
Emotional maturity is not a normative entity that is reached at a certain age. Like it or not, our world is full of adults who achieve professional success while still having the emotional management of a three-year-old. We are faced with a particularly delicate and intimate dimension, it is the awakening of self-esteem, empathy and social life based on respect.
There are those who see adolescence and early youth as a phase of cheerful light-heartedness, for which madness is justified and adults say "don't worry, it's young, it will grow up!". Let's not forget, however, that the mere fact of reaching adulthood does not involve also having all the truths, maturity and wisdom with which to be immune from mistakes, tolerate frustration and become a social guru.
This wrong approach probably comes from the word "maturity". We know that the brain goes through precise phases for which, as the years go by, certain structures develop and consolidate with millions of synapses until culminating in the work of perfect engineering that is the prefrontal cortex, the area destined for decision making, planning and organization of social behavior.
Neuroscience experts inform us that our brains are constantly growing. In particular, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that many of the association fibers of the white matter, involved in cognitive activities, never stop growing if you lead an active lifestyle, full of curiosity, interests and sociability.
With this information, we want to state a very simple thing: emotional maturity is not reached at 30 or 40. The plasticity and potential of our brain are such that we always need to learn, to have continuous interactions and life lessons. It is during the happy and carefree childhood that children need to learn how to manage their emotions. So let's avoid having adults in their 4s with the emotional tyranny of XNUMX-year-olds.
We all seem mature and sufficiently prepared
On the surface, we all show that we have the effective and triumphant emotional maturity that today's society requires of people who are trained and qualified in terms of social skills and abilities. As Tony Campolo, a sociologist at the University of Baltimore explains, we are bringing into the world adults with an "atrophied" emotional maturity.
Be careful though. We are not talking about “evil” people, but about individuals unable to be happy, to give happiness and to create stimulating, harmonious and productive environments.
According to experts, the reason is precise and can be seen in youth: today's young people have more information available than previous generations. I am in contact with an infinity of data, stimuli, reinforcements. At home and at school they train their skills in order to enter the world of work and society "sufficiently prepared". And they certainly are.
However, the problem is that we just "fill" their minds with data, but we don't teach them to develop the most important skill, the emotional one. Let's face it clearly, it is useless to know how to develop software if you are not able to work in a team, if you are not able to tolerate frustration. It is useless to aspire to be a manager or director without emotional intelligence, if you do not know how to create a good working climate on the basis of empathy and strengthening human capital.
To develop emotional maturity, you need humility and goodwill
Emotional maturity does not come with the years, but it is stimulated from an early age. It doesn't even come with sorrows, in other words you don't need to face a thousand adversities to understand what life is and thus develop your skills. In reality, there is no starting point, there are no rules, there is no trigger that in itself gives us the ability to be empathic, reflective, assertive and skilled in solving problems and conflicts.
Emotional maturity is a daily investment, it is a continuous stimulus towards oneself and towards others. To reach this maturity, it is necessary to put into practice a series of habits and strategies that will work only if nourished by willpower and protected by the armor of humility.
Here are some key points to follow in everyday life:
- Mistakes are mistakes, you don't have to run away, but accept them and learn the lesson.
- Don't be afraid of changes because they allow you to build your own identity. To change is also to mature.
- You are not the center of the universe, but you are part of a whole in which your presence is also important and essential. So, respect others as you respect yourself.
- Emotionally value others, practice useful empathy: understanding what others say is not enough, you also need to show that you understand them. Feeling without action is useless.
- Develop the ability to detach: do not let anything or anyone be so important to you that you lose your essence, your identity, your ability to make decisions, to act, to be free.
- Accept that sometimes it is lost, but surrender is not allowed.
- Stop complaining, stop focusing on what you don't like. If something bothers you or is not to your liking, have the courage to change it or accept it.
In conclusion, it is clear from the article that he who is older is not mature, but he who has learned the most in his life, be it at 20, 30 or 70 years old. We must accept the solid responsibility of taking care of ourselves, postponing immediate pleasures in favor of long-term values and cultivating our complex emotional microcosm.
Images courtesy of Josephine Wall