It's all part of growing up
Have you ever wondered how it happens that some people are emotionally mature at 16, some don't get there until their mid 30's, and some don’t seem to get there at all?
We all grow, but not all of us grow up.
But what does growing up actually mean?
It's fair to say that if you are physically developed, have a job, pay taxes and able to operate without a guardian, you are a grown up.
Sadly though, many of us focus on the physical and tangible parts of the process and often forget about emotional growth.
What is emotional growth?
Some would argue, but for the most part it's your ability to deal with your feelings as you go through challenging times. It's the ability to sit with the discomfort of failure, anger, disappointment and everything else in between; process those feelings, learn from them and move on with grace.
Needless to say, it is easier to avoid this difficult process and delay it for as long as possible, maybe months, maybe years.
However, delaying it only causes all the shit to accumulate and grow with time. That's how many people end up carrying all the unwanted baggage of habits and behaviours way into their adulthood, even though they should've been eliminating those in their 20's. The saddest truth is that some people never learn to process their feelings and end up dealing with the consequences of their choices for the rest of their lives.
The most important part of growing up is learning to be flexible with the process, firm with your vales and goals, and remembering that the only true control you have is control over your thoughts and feelings.
Emotional ripeness doesn't come naturally to most and requires time and willingness to be uncomfortable.
We can all agree that the world has been pretty kind to many of us in the past few decades.
Many of us have enough food on our tables, roof over our heads, and daily survival is not one of the main concerns. However, easy access to information, and ability to stay connected and entertained at all times created different kinds of issues. It softened us in a way. With no deathly threats at every corner, our instincts get challenged in a different way if at all these days. For many, seeking physical and emotional comfort is key, and since emotional maturity requires effort and work, it is simply not a priority.
Many issues we experience these days stem from our inability to cope with our emotions and feelings well. It is no surprise that people who have had "opportunities" to deal with really shitty situations are better at tolerating minor grievances. They usually know that small stuff is not worth stressing over about, and it's better to preserve your emotional strength for something more significant. The problem is that the definition itself of what that "small stuff" means doesn't exist. It really depends on each person's background and life experience. Every person has a different understanding of what doesn't matter and what is not worth their energy and time. And the more life experiences you get, especially of the shitty kind, the more mature you get (hopefully, if you learn from them).
Part of growing up is becoming emotionally mature and learning how to deal with the day-to-day challenges without escaping the underlying issues.
Many issues during the emotional maturity journey stem from not knowing your own self-worth. Having self-respect towards yourself and your values is key, because that helps your create your boundaries, and helps other people understand where those boundaries are. Having a strong sense of self-worth or self-love will allow your to accept yourself as is, and in turn, will allow you to accept others as they are. There will be no shame, mistakes will be welcomed, self-discovery and self-improvement encouraged. The more you learn and explore your boundaries, the more you will know what you deserve, what you should leave behind and let go of.
Welcoming challenges with an open mind and heart should be your default setting, so to speak. The only way to get better is to address your issues. So welcome discomfort, learn to unpack those feelings, understand the root causes and sit with the pain. When things get tough, remind yourself that this process is good for you, because growth doesn’t come from comfort zones.
Remove the distractions, destructive vices and negative coping strategies. Instead, focus on identifying your emotions, accepting them and figuring out how to move forward productively.
As you get more emotionally mature, you realize that the only person responsible for your success is YOU. So looking inward during challenging times is more productive for your growth than trying to find people to blame or circumstances out of your control. Sometimes life is not fair and awful things happen to great people. Accepting that fact as is - is the key to becoming more emotionally mature.
The way you deal with setbacks will often reveal how far you are in your personal growth journey. Mature people take less things personally as they know that not everything is about them. They are the main character in their own story, but they are also a supporting secondary character in many other stories. Learning to work and properly communicate with others, adding value without expectations and compromising are all a sign of maturity.
Proper communication can solve many, if not most, problems, and emotionally mature people know that. They don't run away from difficult discussions and view confrontation as a positive thing, as long as it's done right, of course. They realize that they always have a choice to act on their impulses instead of trying to understand why they feel the way they do. But emotionally mature people choose the latter.
The world is full of uncertainty and emotionally mature people understand that there is only one aspect of life they can really control - the way they deal with their emotions. That's why they embrace the unpredictability and know that they will be able to survive the challenging times.