Sunday, 22 October 2023 04:46

7 signs of emotional maturity, according to a psychologist

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Emotional maturity isn't always easy — especially if you had immature behaviors modeled to you as a child.

In an argument with a friend or romantic partner, it can be easy to revert to immature behavior like name-calling, yelling, and defensiveness.

But maybe you've put in the work — you've gone to therapy, you've meditated, and you feel like you've finally developed better behavior. Are you an emotionally mature person now?

Lindsay C. Gibson, a clinical psychologist, told Insider there's no such thing as a perfect, emotionally mature person who's "reached the apex of emotional maturity and stays there."

At the same time, there are a few signs that you might be becoming more emotionally mature. Here are some of them.

1. You actively listen and take in different viewpoints

Gibson said that one of the ways to know if you've become a more emotionally mature person is if you show genuine interest in listening to other people.

"I don't mean big, heavy, intense listening," she said, as paying too much attention to someone can become performative or fall into love bombing. "I mean they would just give you room and time to express your thoughts."

Emotionally immature people can make others feel like they have to race to get a word in or tiptoe around certain topics. But as an emotionally mature person, "there's a sense that you can be you and they can be them, and you can have a conversation where both people get to participate and both people listen to the other person."

2. You balance self-care with caring for others

While it can seem like being selfless and having endless empathy are signs of emotional maturity, Gibson said that healthy boundaries are really important.

"You can be self-preserving and you can also be interested in other people, have empathy for them," she said.

For example, you know that you can't adequately show up for people if you're not also taking care of yourself.

3. You think of how your words affect people, even when you're upset

Gibson said that emotionally mature people "are also very aware of how their words are going to land with the other person."

Even if you're angry or upset, you might think twice before sending a long, accusatory text or saying the first things that come to mind when you're heated. You know how to regulate your emotions.

4. You view arguments as collaborations, not fights

Because emotionally mature people think before they speak, arguments tend to go over more smoothly.

"They're not looking to ferret out the enemy," Gibson said. "Instead, they're looking to have a discussion and share information."

A good rule of thumb to assess your emotional maturity is noticing how you feel in a fight, she said.

Emotionally immature people tend to feel rigid and locked in, getting more defensive and charged as people disagree. But if you're actively trying to lower the temperature and have a productive discussion, that's a sign of emotional maturity.

5. You notice when you're being emotionally immature

If you grew up with an emotionally immature parent or in an enmeshed family, you might unconsciously repeat some of those unhealthy behaviors, or struggle with emotional dysregulation.

A big part of becoming more emotionally mature is recognizing when you're acting immaturely, Gibson said.

"When you engage in emotionally immature reactivity, you do not feel good inside," she said. "It feels like you are stressed and tense and rigid, and the other person has got to change or you're not going to be okay."

To grow into emotional maturity, it's important to be honest with yourself when you're being reactive or trying to control others.

6. You take notes from emotionally mature people

Gibson said that another sign of emotional maturity is observing how others handle conflict.

"You'll notice other people who seem to handle these difficult situations in such a smooth or effective way," she said. "They sort of end up getting their way without alienating anyone."

Whether it's another family member, friend, coworker, or romantic partner, you take mental notes when you see someone expertly navigate tough situations, and then implement those tools in your own life.

7. You don't feel perfect, but you feel more solid

Everyone wavers in their emotional maturity from time to time. "If we get sick or tired or stressed, our level of emotional maturity tends to go down," Gibson said.

But a consistent sign of being emotionally mature is having a stronger sense of self. You have moral clarity and don't need people to validate you to feel secure.

"They're not losing themselves if somebody disagrees with them," Gibson said. "They just don't get threatened in the same way that the emotionally immature do."

 

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