Emotional maturity is the most important quality of great relationships.Unfortunately, we don’t pick it up simply by going through puberty.
We have to practice it, learn to heal our emotional pain, and slowly develop the character traits that allow us and our relationships to thrive. It’s a long process, but the rewards — meaning, happiness, joy — are worth the effort.
The question is: Where are you in that journey right now?
Last year, The School of Life published 26 suggestions on emotional maturity. I’ve condensed them into 15 signs to help you answer this question.
Doing so will give you an idea of what you’re good at and what you still need to work on — and thus help you get the relationships you deserve.
Instead of blaming people for not magically getting you, speak your mind to the best of your ability. Say what you really want, tell people how you really feel, and try your best to be calm and clear in the process.
What if instead, we paused and took time to wonder? Is there some truth in their criticism? Do they just want to help me? Can I let this comment stand without fighting it? Do I really know what they mean? How can I make sure?
Don’t be so quick to judge. Be generous with your interpretations. And — always — ask more questions.
Sometimes, you and I and everyone you know is wrong, stubborn, and a pain in the ass to be around. That’s okay, but be aware of it. Be generous in letting people know. “I’m not fun when I’m hungry.” “I’m not sure I’m right.” “I’m sorry, I was wrong.” These are signs of strength, not weakness.
We’re all trying our best to live up to our many characters. We all suffer from impostor syndrome. We hope we look right to the world, and people won’t know we’re afraid, clueless, and lost. It’s okay. Everyone is.
Emotional maturity is taking true comfort in this fact and letting it fuel real confidence to not care what others think.
You’ll both feel less lonely and see past each other’s mistakes because you know they’re cries for help, not attacks. You respond with love when others show fragility, and you address your own as best as you can. This includes but isn’t limited to the small things like getting enough sleep, eating well, and not discussing big issues in a rush or moments of anger.
Despite being fragile, humans are also incredibly resilient. Except death, everything is survivable. Trust in your ability to piece yourself back together. Trust that tomorrow can be a good day. Not all will go right, but what goes wrong can be fixed, learned from, or at least accepted. You will survive.
When others make bad decisions, look to their context, not their character. Are you out to get someone? Of course not. Neither is anyone else. Everyone is doing their best. Sometimes, it’s just not good enough.
When that happens, show people compassion, and give them the benefit of the doubt. It makes life less of a battle and more of an expedition.
We’re all fools but lovable fools nonetheless. Accept your inner child and don’t make every regretful decision into a mistake you have to fix. You’re okay. You always were. Welcome to Team Human.
The faster you can go from pain to processing, from feeling to sharing, the faster you’ll alleviate your own and other people’s suffering.
Presence is great when we use it to remember our smallness. Make tiny choices today. Fix something small. Take a walk. Get away from the big picture. Tomorrow will be a new day.
Always double-check your high hopes. What failures can you account for in advance? Expecting setbacks will give you more emotional bandwidth to accept them, stay patient, and try again in a calm and composed manner.
No single person will solve all your problems. Everyone carries their own baggage, no matter how polished they look on the outside. Be grateful for the good relationships you have, and be suspicious not just of your impulses towards other people but also those towards yourself.
There is no such thing as a problem-free life. Sometimes, the only way to move forward together is to settle on a different path than either party would have chosen on their own. This is not weakness. It’s a sign of growing up.
Maybe your partner is stubborn, but he’s also strong. Maybe your friend is emotional but also empathetic. What about you? Each imperfection reflects a strength. Value the balance so we can all move forward together.
No matter if you entertain millions or slide potatoes across the table, “good enough” is always available if you choose it. Perfection doesn’t exist, and even what’s frustrating can be all you need today.
Celebrate the little things. Buy some Snickers. Tip the waiter. Have some tea. Be grateful that you’re not sick or in a court room and that the sun decided to shine for you today. There is no reason to be angry.