Emotional maturity means being honest about your feelings and building trust with those around you because you do not have a hidden agenda you are pushing. When we think of someone who is emotionally mature, we typically picture a person who has a good understanding of who they are. They are the ones we look to when going through a difficult time because they perform well under stress. In other words, emotional maturity is when someone can manage their emotions no matter their circumstances. They know how to respond to tough situations and still keep their feelings cool. This is a skill set they can consistently work on over time. Becoming aware of our own worth as well as the worth of others is what helps us lead a happier and more fulfilling life. In short, maturity is a choice we can all make little by little, day by day. The key characteristics and things we can do to develop emotional maturity are:
Learn to identify your emotions: Recognizing how you feel whether sadness, anger, or embarrassment can help you understand why you are reacting the way you are. As an exercise, try writing down the number of times you were bothered by others in a journal for a week. Then try identifying the underlying emotions. This gives you more insight into how you can respond to a situation and needs.
Taking responsibility: People with emotional maturity are aware of their privilege in the world and will try to take steps towards changing their behavior. This means you do not blame others or yourself when something goes skewed. You possess a spirit of humility instead of complaining about your circumstances, you become action oriented. You may ask, what can I do to improve this situation.
Showing empathy: Emotionally mature individuals approach life by doing good as much as they can and supporting those around them. You know how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, meaning, you often feel more concern for others and try to find ways of helping.
Owning mistakes: Those who are emotionally mature know how to apologize when they have done wrong. They will admit their mistakes and try to find ways of rectifying the situation. They also do not have the desire to be right all the time. Instead, they will acknowledge that they indeed do not have all the answers.
Being unafraid of vulnerability: Emotionally mature persons are always willing to open up and share their own struggles, so others feel less alone. They are also not interested in being seen as perfect all the time.
Recognizing and accepting needs: Those with emotional maturity can admit when they need help or when they are burning out. For example, they will acknowledge when they need a break and know when to ask their boss for a day off. They are also able to clearly communicate with their partner for more help around the house.
Letting go of shame: Becoming conscious of when we are feeling bad about ourselves can give us the agency to make change. By letting go of shame, you are free to take charge of your life and live on your own terms rather than by other people’s expectations.
Setting healthy boundaries: This is a form of self-love and respect, and being emotionally mature means not letting anyone cross your boundaries. If you are constantly hanging out with someone demanding your time, for example, setting a boundary shows you will not compromise your self-respect.
Taking ownership of your reality: This involves looking at your life and taking full responsibility for both the good and the bad. Exercising this kind of ownership can help you take control of your choices. Learning to recognize when you have made a mistake grants your insight into preventing it from happening again in the future, and from making other poor choices going forward.
Observing others with curiosity: Instead of reacting when someone becomes dramatic, try displaying patience and understanding for where they are coming from. Be curious about your approach to others and avoid judging their behavior. Rather than snap at someone’s offensive remark, you may determine that it is time to move on from an unhealthy friendship.
Following someone else’s lead: Finding a reliable role model can go a long way in helping us develop a greater level of emotional maturity. When we see someone, we admire their handling a setback smoothly and we are much more likely to model their behavior. They allow us to see that there is a better way to manage our emotions and how we can respond to distressing events.