Seek out the Emotionally Mature

Sports Psychology, November 07, 2021

Seek out and surround yourself with people that will lift you up, inspire, and hold you to account.

All of us experience trauma during our lives. Some on a large scale, others on a much smaller less challenging way. It can occur early during more formative years; for others later in life when we are more equipped to cope.  Research has suggested that what has happened to people effects them much less than whether they have processed what has happened. If traumatic experiences are not processed they are buried and can negatively effect communication and relationships later in life. Many people will fall back into old damaging patterns when looking to interact with others with buried unprocessed feelings and emotions. This can range from subconsciously seeking out work mates, friends and partners who are emotionally shut off right through to abusive personality types. 

Whether you are looking for friendship, an employee, boss, or a life partner checking off characteristics of emotional maturity will help with starting an enhancing, mutually beneficial relationship rather than a stressful, draining one. 

1)They are Realistic & Reliable

They work with reality rather than excessively complaining about it or fighting it. Emotionally mature people accept reality on its own terms while working to change what they don't like. Problems are to be fixed in realistic time frames rather than a fixation on how things should be.

They can feel and think at the same time. Thinking while being upset rather than just shutting off and "acting out" makes an emotional mature person someone you can reason with even with uncomfortable, confronting discussions. They don't lose their ability to see another persons point of view even when they are not getting what they want. 

Their consistency makes them Reliable. An authentic sense of self means they won't be inconsistent with behaviours across a range of situations.

They don't take Everything personally. Emotionally mature people are not offended easily. They are not a slave to perfectionisim and understand their failings. Taking things too personally can be a sign of narcissism or low self esteem. This defensive pattern can destroy building meaningful relationships. 

2)They are Respectful & Reciprocal

They respect boundaries. They tend to look for connection and closeness, not intrusion. The emotionally immature don't think manners matter with closeness. They will take feelings and boundaries into account with interaction. They are good at 'tuning in' on how others are feeling. An important measure of respect is not to tell people how they should feel or think. 

They give back. They don't take advantage of people. Reciprocity and fairness are at the centre of healthy relationships. They want to help and are generous with their time. 

They compromise and are flexible. An important trait to observe is how people respond if plans are changed. It's important to distinguish between personal rejection and unforeseen circumstances. Emotionally mature people accept that changes and disappointments are part of a life well lived. Compromise can be enjoyable not painful when negotiating with emotionally mature people as they care about how you feel. 

They are even tempered. The sooner temper emerges in a relationship the worse the implications. It can indicate both brittleness, a sense of entitlement, and disrespect. Less mature people may feed into their anger and act if reality should adapt to them. That being said everyone needs time to calm down before they can talk about what made them angry. Forcing communication when both parties are still angry will just create increased tension with things said in the heat of the moment that will be regretted later. 

They are willing to be Influenced. Emotionally people have a secure sense of self and don't feel threatened when others see things differently. They are also not afraid of admitting they don't know something. They might not agree but with a natural sense of curiosity they will try to understand different points of view.  John Gottman (researcher into relationships and marital stability) describes this trait - willingness to be influenced by others - as one of the seven principles for a sustainable, happy relationship. Men are especially prone to rejecting a partners input due to cultural pressures to be self assured, and to resist undue influence. What ever the gender an inability to consider another's point of view is indicative of emotional immaturity and a difficult time ahead. 

Truth. Telling the truth is the basis of trust and a sign of integrity. It gives respect to the moment. You can count on an emotionally mature person to be genuine and forthcoming when honesty is called for. 

They Apologise and make amends. Emotionally mature people are responsible for their behaviour and are willing to say one of the hardest words to say - sorry. This basic trait helps maintain healthy, happy relationships. People who are sincere will also add a clear statement on how they will do things differently to the apology. 

3)They are Responsive

Their Empathy makes you feel safe. Along with self-awareness, empathy is what makes people feel safe in a relationship. It's the soul of emotional intelligence. Non empathetic people overlook your feelings and can't walk in another's shoes. 

They make you feel seen and understood. Emotionally mature people show curiosity and are interested during conversation. They like individuality and the ways that others are different from themselves. When you feel distressed the emotionally mature don't pull back - in fact they lean in and are not afraid of emotions. 

They reflect on their actions and are open to change. Self reflection is a crucial aspect of someone who is emotionally mature. The willingness to take action as a result of self reflection is very important.

They can laugh and be playful. Humor is a highly adaptive coping mechanism. Emotionally mature people have a good sense of humor and can use appropriate lightheartedness to relieve stress. The emotionally immature will push humor on others and enjoy humor that tricks people or making them look inept of foolish. Humor with an edge like sarcasm should be used sparingly. Too much cynicism and sarcasm are signs of a closed down person who fears connection. 

They are enjoyable to be around. Being enjoyable to be around is crucial for relationship satisfaction. If you review the traits that have been mentioned you will see that emotionally mature have a positive vibe, and look to enjoy life while understanding life isn't always a bed of roses. 

Our society needs more emotional maturity. We need people with enhanced communication, conflict resolution, and empathy skills.  More division is coming, and this can lead to conflict, entrenched beliefs, and defensive, personal attack rather than open, problem focused discussion. We all need to work hard on our emotional maturity if our society is going to come through the stressful times ahead. Please go through these characteristics - self reflect, talk to your children about them, and look to move towards more emotional maturity. Navigating the rough seas ahead will be incredibly challenging - if we are divided it will be akin to a large number of small boats getting tossed around with many lost overboard;  compare this to a large, more stable ship with a crew working collectively if we can come together.  

References

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents - How to heal from distant, rejecting, or self involved parents by Lindsay C. Gibson (2015)

Brad Dixon is a sports physio, coach, and wellness evangelist based at EVERFIT Physio & Coaching. His passion is promoting enhancing daily habits that nudge people towards potential and save the planet. His book ‘Holistic Human’ is available here - https://everfit.co.nz/Store/Category/Book . The power is in our daily habits! Connect with Brad at www.everfit.co.nz, Facebook, Strava, Instagram (@everfitcoach), and YOU TUBE https://youtube.com/c/EverFITcoach