Emotional Maturity Is Knowing Life Isn't Perfect

21 August, 2020
Sometimes, maturity comes with age. Others, it comes from pain, from major setbacks and disappointments that force us to grow up. However, all of this helps us to grow as individuals.

Emotional maturity is being happy knowing that life isn’t perfect. It comes with learning life’s lessons, moving forward, adapting to life and getting to know its rhythms. It’s climbing mountains and experiencing life to strengthen your self-image, learning how to deal with the things that make you uncomfortable in order to learn, change and grow.

With time, you’ll understand that there’s no love more powerful than self love, and that it forms the foundation of our approach to life. Self love is our support, a crutch to help us get up after every fall and to make things hurt less.

Emotional maturity

Emotional maturity develops over time with life’s punches. Isn’t it curious how much we grow after going through a period of stress, grief or suffering?

Emotional maturity is being happy despite life's imperfections.

In their book, La Inteligencia Emocional y el estudio de la felicidad (“Emotional Intelligence and the study of happiness”) Pablo Fernández-Berrocal and Natalio Extremera explain the following:

“In theory, a happy person is one with many positive experiences and few negative ones, someone who feels globally satisfied with his or her life. However, as well-being specialists point out, there is no objective indicator of happiness, rather it is a subjective state of the individual that is obtained directly from their own self-evaluation.”

In an age where there’s a manual for almost everything, we don’t yet have one titled, Life’s Manual: How to Grow Up, and how to keep growing in the midst of a barrage of messages that tell us what we should and shouldn’t be or what we should and shouldn’t achieve.

However, even if there were a book that held the keys to emotional maturity, there would still be no magic spell that could help us grow up overnight. Everyone is unique, and there is no algorithm that can predict how a person will grow.

As Anthony de Mello once said: “I’ll know I’ve reached maturity when I no longer have a need to judge or blame anyone else for anything that happens to me”.

Signs of emotional maturity

There comes a time in our emotional journey where we begin to reflect on the paths we’ve taken in life. What are some signs of emotional maturity?

1. Emotional maturity is knowing when to say goodbye

Emotionally mature people know that life is much better if you live it freely. They know how to let go of what no longer serves them, because they realize that fixating on the past prevents you from closing chapters in your life and healing emotional wounds.

Visit this article:

6 Steps to Heal Emotional Wounds from Childhood

2. Accepting life and healing emotional pain

When you’ve learned from your pain, the fear of looking within to heal your emotional past is gone and you can finally take a step forward in life.

A woman praying.

3. Knowing how to communicate what you think and feel

Refusal to confront your own inner demons doesn’t mean that you’re free of them. Instead, it allows past trauma and negative experiences to control your present. This doesn’t leave much room for anything positive, and it hurts. It hurts a lot.

The mental clarity of emotionally mature individuals sharply contrasts with the laziness and constant chaos of those who haven’t yet reached that stage of maturity. Mental maturity helps to effectively solve the problems of everyday life.

4. Stop complaining

Mature people have learned that you can either change things or accept them for what they are. Complaining doesn’t do anyone any good. 

5. Empathize with others without being overwhelmed

Mature people are able to manage their emotions.

Also read:

The Dangers of Repressed Emotions

6. Don’t punish yourself for mistakes

Mistakes are the best way to learn because they help us understand our shortcomings. Mature people don’t punish themselves because of their limitations, they look for ways to improve them.

7. Emotional openness

As you mature, you begin to realize that emotional barriers only hinder your development. While it’s true that barriers are sometimes necessary, it’s important to lower them from time to time.

8. Emotional maturity is enjoying both time alone, and time spent with others

Emotional maturity is enjoying both time alone, and time spent with others. 

The below extract is from a text attributed to Charlie Chaplin. Whether or not it belongs to him, it’s a beautiful reflection on the walk through life, maturing and changing:

“I have forgiven mistakes that were indeed almost unforgivable. I’ve tried to replace people who were irreplaceable and tried to forget those who were unforgettable. I’ve acted on impulse, have been disappointed by people when I thought that this could never be possible. But I have also disappointed those who I love.

I have laughed at inappropriate occasions. I’ve made friends that are now friends for life. I’ve screamed and jumped for joy. I have loved and I’ve been loved. But I have also been rejected and I have been loved without loving the person back.

[…]

 At other times, I felt very afraid that I might lose someone very special (which ended up happening anyway).

But I have lived!

-Charlie Chaplin-

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  • Dean, D. G., & Bruton, B. T. (1989). Alienation and emotional maturity. Sociological Focus. https://doi.org/10.1080/00380237.1989.10570544
  • Irving, J. A., & Williams, D. I. (1999). Personal growth and personal development: Concepts clarified. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. https://doi.org/10.1080/03069889908256287
  • Moore, D. (2010). 7 Steps to emotional maturity. https://doi.org/10.1080/10610278.2015.1098639
  • Revista Interuniversitaria de Formación del Profesorado, 66 (23,3) (2009), 7835-81408
  • Berrocal, P. F., & Pacheco, N. E. (2009). La inteligencia emocional y el estudio de la felicidad. Revista interuniversitaria de formación del profesorado, (66), 85-108.