You may look like a grown-up but do you always act your age? Emotional maturity doesn’t necessarily grow with age. Sometimes adults find themselves behaving like children. Therapist Julie Hanks shares the six signs you are emotionally mature. Plus, tips to help you get back on track.
Maturity is generally associated with chronological age and years of life experience. But, when it comes to emotional maturity, age has very little to do with it. Have you ever noticed that some adults can pout just like a 6 year old? Of that some grown-ups seems to act more like teenagers by shirking adult responsibilities? Emotional maturity takes work, effort and a willingness to take an honest look inside of your-self. It also takes a willingness to try and understand the experiences of others.
Here are six signs of an emotional grownup and some suggested tips for growth in areas where you might struggle:
1) You have the final say in your life
You consider the opinions of others when making decisions, but ultimately you know you have the final say in your life. You sense that you are in the driver’s seat and that you have some control over the direction and course of your life.
TIP: If you find yourself giving others too much of a say in your life, try making a small personal decision without other’s input.
2) You know what you think and how you feel
You have a general awareness of your internal world – your thoughts and your feelings – and can express them directly to others in relationships.
TIP: If you don’t know what you think and feel, try writing your thoughts and feelings out on paper or in a journal.
TIP: If you avoid talking to the person you’re upset with and generally vent about it to others, try first going directly to the person with whom you have the issue.
3) You can empathize without getting overwhelmed
You allow others to feel how they feel and think what they think. You can empathize and comfort them without becoming overwhelmed by their emotions and feeling like you need to fix their situation. You can hear someone’s hurt or anger toward you without feeling like you’re a bad person (shame).
TIP: If the emotions of others tend to overwhelm you, try visualizing an emotional bubble around you with a handle on the inside. You decide what to let in and what to keep out.
TIP: If other’s emotions about you are hard to hear, practice listening to them as if they’re talking about someone else. This helps pause your responses and stay present with the other person.
4) You enjoy alone time and time with others
You enjoy your own company and don’t get scared or anxious when you spend time alone. Likewise, you can also enjoy being social, spending time with others, and are willing to initiate in social situations.
TIP: If it is hard for you to be alone, do something you’ve never done all by yourself, like go to a movie, hiking, or going out to dinner.
TIP: If you tend to be a “home body”, put yourself out their and extend an invitation to a person you’d like to get to know.
5) You are flexible and have a broad range of reactions
You rarely get stuck in a rigid patterns of interactions in your relationships and you have a broad repertoire of emotional, verbal, and behavioral responses. You can laugh at yourself, own your mistakes and weaknesses, and acknowledge your strengths.
TIP: If you get stuck in relational pattern that seem to replay itself regularly, try giving a silly or unpredictable response instead of falling into the usual pattern.
6) You balance your needs with the needs of others
There is a feeling of give and take in your relationships. You aren’t always the one accommodating other’s wishes, and on the flip side, you aren’t always insisting that things go your way.
TIP: If you tend to let go of your needs or wants to please others, try picking one small area that you feel strongly about and don’t budge.
TIP: If you tend to want to be in control, try easing up and letting someone else make a choice or have it their way.
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a licensed therapist, self-care & relationship expert, media contributor and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. For emotional, health & relationship resources connect with Julie at www.juliehanks.com or visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com. Find out more about her new book The Burnout Cure: An Emotional Survival Guide For Overwhelmed Women