Emotional Maturity: Do you have an emotionally immature person in your life?
The truth is emotional maturity must be learned and practiced. I’ll say it again: emotional maturity must be learned and practiced. No matter where you are at on the range of emotional maturity, you can grow.
Let’s start with a working definition for emotional maturity. Emotionally mature people can be identified as those who demonstrate self-discipline over controlling moods, emotions, habits, thoughts, behavior, etc. Emotionally mature people recognize life’s circumstances will test them; however, they employ self-discipline over their emotions, feelings, decision-making, judgments, volitional will, etc. The operative word in this definition is: demonstrate (notice the word is used in the present tense). The principle here is that we are self-disciplined when we exhibit (or demonstrate) control over emotions and feelings that can often seem overwhelming.
Exercising emotional maturity versus immaturity can foster functional and healthy relationships, the kind that brings honor to God, to us, and to others.
This blog will capture a few real-life scenarios of people who have allowed “something” to control them in a circumstance instead of being in control. Then we will follow up with a scenario we call “Just-In-Time” (JUT) support to provide an emotionally mature perspective.
When my partner senses or feels I’m in a bad mood, he just asks, “What?” in a cold monotone way as though he doesn’t really want to hear the answer or is bothered or irritated by my frame of mind. It makes me feel like he really isn’t interested in listening but also feels obligated to respond in some way.
If we follow the path to why the boyfriend just asks “what,” we could learn he has become immune to the girlfriend’s moodiness. She recognizes it. A great question for the girlfriend would be: “What do I need to do to get control of my moodiness?” Self-discipline is key. Origin is important to identify where the moodiness comes from, but once she knows, she must not hang on to the origin. She must become self-disciplined to break free from moodiness.
There is a co-worker who keeps giving me the silent treatment because I don’t do what he wants me to do. On our team, he is very opinionated. He thinks I am too quiet. If I speak up and share my opinion like he feels I need to, it will benefit our team. It’s not my style to share my opinion like he does, so he gives me the silent treatment.
There are two immature factors at work in this scenario: punitive behavior and a juvenile response. The co-worker is punishing this lady through the silent treatment. That is his form of disapproval. The irony is punitive behavior like his doesn’t benefit their team either. It breaks down communication and creates mistrust. The other factor exhibited by the co-worker reflects a juvenile response. Remember when we were teenagers? When we got mad or didn’t feel comfortable, what did we do? Many of us clammed up and didn’t talk. The silent treatment is a form of juvenile behavior that is expected of a teenager but doesn’t “look good” in an adult. The co-worker should not force his preferred temperament on the lady because we are all uniquely “wired.” He should not punish her through a juvenile response. It reflects negatively upon him and diminishes his credibility and respect for the team. He should try and have a genuine conversation with her and ultimately accept what he can’t change. Finally, he needs to grow up.
I am the emotionally immature person in the relationship. I’m self-aware of this, but in fight-or-flight scenarios, I can’t tell up from down. Walking away only causes me to obsess. This is often an emotional prison for me. Help!
How common is it for people to be on a fast-moving, emotional roller coaster, feeling powerless to stop the ride? “How common,” you ask? It is as common as the hard places we run from in our personal and private selves. The elephant in the room has been identified by this person and that is the necessary start to getting off the emotional roller coaster.
Being aware of myself in situations instead of focusing on someone else’s emotions and behavior is a life-changer. It is important to notice what happens to us, to protect ourselves, and to set boundaries. However, we are in control of our OWN thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc.
Take a breather. Walk away temporarily. Put myself in timeout. Tamp down my emotional spinning through prayer, worship, venting to a trusted person, etc. The spinning will reoccur, and we can eventually lose credibility and respect if we don’t take ownership for our OWN healing and the hard work it takes to get there.
We could go on and on with scenarios about emotional maturity and immaturity. The truth is emotional maturity must be learned and practiced. I’ll say it again: emotional maturity must be learned and practiced. No matter where you are at on the range of emotional maturity, you can grow.
Take the Holy Spirit’s power seriously above any other resource available to us. He is more interested in us being emotionally mature than we are or anyone else. But we must act with the Holy Spirit. Pray. Go to counseling and act. Seek forgiveness and act. Forgive and act. Whatever we need to do to demonstrate self-discipline, we must do it. It is a holy fruit we bear when the Holy Spirit turns off the roller-coaster switch for our out-of-control emotions. We must utilize our resources: the Holy Spirit, our intelligence, common sense, conscience, etc.
We should never have a defeatist mentality, thinking and behaving as though we are not in control of the hard things in life. We. Are. In. Control. Being in control is achieved only by the Holy Spirit's abiding power and acting upon His power and our God-given abilities.
We are not victims. We are victors. (Write this quote on the bathroom mirror and read it daily).
Let’s spend time thinking about what Galatians 5:22-23 means to us as an emotionally mature person. It states, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."