What Does It Mean to Have Emotional Maturity?
Emotional maturity means, in essence, controlling your emotions rather than allowing your emotions to control you. That does not mean we should hide or repress our emotions, though we can use muscle relaxation, yoga, guided imagery and other relaxation tools to reduce their intensity. As a cognitive-behavioral therapist, I believe our thoughts, in conjunction with our environment, create our emotions. Fortunately, we can control our thoughts by becoming aware of our negative and inaccurate beliefs and ideas.
“The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.” Paul Tillich
Dr. Martha Storks (Modes of Therapeutic Action) defines psychological maturity as “being able to accept the reality of people and things as they are, without needing them to be other than that.”
Our brains will believe anything we tell them. If you tell your brain that you are in danger (physically, emotionally or psychologically), it reacts as if you are sliding face first down a mountain. If you replace negative, irrational, self-limiting thoughts with accurate, empowering and more adaptive thoughts, your emotional control will improve dramatically. What does that mean? lt means that your relationships improve, you feel in control and happy, you like yourself more, and you are more likely to reach your life goals.
How do you recognize emotional maturity? An emotionally mature person will have many of the following traits:
- Knowing what one wants and making it happen
- Thinking before acting and having control over one’s behavior
- Self-reliance and the ability to take responsibility for one’s life and actions
- The ability to connect with others in a cooperative and positive way
- Genuinely caring about others and demonstrating that ability
- Honesty and living by one’s principles
- Having moderation and balance in all things
- Having the ability to follow through, even when it is difficult
- Humility and the ability to say, “I was I am sorry.” (inspired by the Swedish Medical Center, www.Swedish.org)
Think you’re emotionally mature? Find out for sure by taking this test!
Check your level of emotional maturity by indicating how each of the following traits best describes you as follows:
Test Your Emotional Maturity
© 2016, Dr. Dorothy McCoy. All rights reserved.