Let’s say you are in a situation where you’re required to spend time with someone who has a negative attitude, be it in school, in a volunteer situation, at work, or in your own family. It seems like their attitude is consistently negative, and you grow more and more annoyed by them as time passes. They are annoying you!
Maybe you think they are totally ruining your day, and you believe you’re right in your thinking, and you want them to know it!
How much of your thinking is making you suffer?
Everyone has days when an attitude adjustment would make being around them more pleasant. But, the way they are acting doesn’t have to cause you to feel negative too. People are people, and things happen. Have you ever considered that it doesn’t have to be an invitation to join in?
You are only in control of you. Having a real understanding of this is a part of what emotional maturity is.
Emotional maturity doesn’t mean that you no longer enjoy things with youthful curiosity. It means that you no longer react to people, places, and things from feeling disempowered by what you can’t control.
What IS emotional maturity?
When you consistently choose to take full responsibility for your emotions, you are acting mature. Your experience is a product of your own thinking. No matter how painful most things are, or how people can be, mostly nothing is being done to you without your interpretation of how you choose to act or react towards it.
Emotional maturity is a skill you can develop. You can learn to witness your thoughts and make decisions about how you want to process them.
Without this skill, most people who experience uncomfortable emotions will react, shut down, or blame others for their present feelings.
Why is emotional maturity necessary? (Especially on a gap year!)
Although you might be completely justified in reacting the way you do towards another person’s behavior, blaming something outside of yourself for how you feel disconnects you from your source of power to do something about it.
Makes sense, right?
In every moment, you have the power to choose between blaming something outside of yourself for how you feel or taking full responsibility for the thoughts you have about it. When you live with emotional maturity, it empowers you because you reconnect with your ability to respond intentionally to any circumstance, instead of reacting emotionally out of a place of fear, judgment, or victimhood.
The more often you choose to self-regulate your emotional well-being, the more resilient you become when facing the inevitable challenges of taking a gap year, attending university, or exploring the world.
How will you benefit from living with more emotional maturity?
- You have the self-awareness to see the most empowering perspective available to you in every situation.
- You free yourself from the drama cycle that perpetuates immature or disrespectful communication.
- You no longer get upset or distracted by little things that don’t matter.
- You are less likely to speak or act in a way that would harm, offend, or otherwise be unhelpful towards others.
- You are more open to considering different points of view without getting defensive about your own.
- You will respond intentionally, instead of reacting unconsciously, to emotionally challenging situations.
What steps can you take to become more emotionally mature?
- Identify when, where, and to whom you give your power away, so you can consciously reclaim it next time.
- Identify where you might still be blaming an external person for the negative emotions you feel.
- Learn how to relate to the emotions you observe and experience from a place of love, acceptance, and deep listening.
- Begin voicing the authenticity of your present emotions to yourself or trusted members of your community, in the form of writings, recorded videos, or 1:1 conversations.
- Practice taking a few deep breaths when you get triggered by something, and observe your thoughts with curiosity to understand the source of your suffering more clearly.