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24 signs of emotional maturity

Emotional maturity is the number one characteristic of productive and fulfilling relationships in life.

How do you know you are emotionally mature?

Here are 24 key signs:

1. You stop blaming other people for how they’re treating you and instead understand that they probably have their own fears and anxieties driving what they do. You understand that many people around you insist that the behavior of others is based on nastiness, idiocy and negativity. You realize that the behavior of others is not so simple and a great deal more complex.

2. You start to see that most things in life aren’t black and white, but rather many shades of grey. This is especially the case in politics. But it also applies more broadly. You begin to look at issues from multiple viewpoints and you’re less steadfast in the perspective you thought was obvious at first.

3. You can admit that – quite remarkably – you don’t have all the answers. You can get things wrong from time to time, and you realize that if you’ve been wrong before, you may be wrong again. The phrase “I don’t know” is something you use more often. Rather than running away from this phrase, it paradoxically brings you a sense of calm.

4. You stop thinking that you’re so unique and special all the time. You understand that while we’re all indeed unique and special in our own way, life becomes a little richer when we look for what we have in common as opposed to what separates us. You revel in building relationships with others based on a sense of comradery and sisterhood. You feel a deep sense of connection with the people around you.

5. You feel confident not by thinking that you’re better than people all around you, but from seeing that ultimately, we’re all ignorant fools. You see that the most confident people around you wear masks to stop people from seeing the ignorant fool within them. You feel compassion for these people while also allowing your confidence to grow, not needing to be anyone but yourself.

6. You stop suffering from imposter syndrome, because you don’t accept that anyone else gets to tell you what’s legitimate. You know that we’re all just trying to act a role in some way, so you may as well embrace whatever role you’re currently in.

7. You stop trying to be perfect at everything you do. You realize that you learn the most from your mistakes, and you’re better off living a life at the edges of your comfort zone which results in an imperfect life. You begin to take pleasure in doing your best rather than needing the result to be so perfect all the time.

8. You forgive your parents because you know that just as you’re not perfect, neither are they. You no longer hold yourself to such high standards, and you no longer hold your parents to these same standards. You know they have done the very best with what they were given. You love them for who they are, imperfections and all.

9. You stop blaming others for the situation you are in and instead start to see the challenges you face as learning opportunities. The situations you find yourself in often weren’t created by you. This doesn’t phase you anymore. You’re more interested in improving the situation you’re in – and helping others who are in the same situation – than playing the blame game.

10. You realise that actions speak louder than words. You know that it’s easy to say the right thing in many situations, but it’s much more difficult to do what you say you’ll do. You understand that the best way to build a relationship with someone is not to tell them how much they mean to you, but to show them through your behaviors.

11. You stop blaming yourself for what’s gone wrong in your life. You understand that you had a different idea 10 years ago about what your life would be like when you’re at this age. You start to accept where you’re at and see the beauty not just in all of your accomplishments but also in the many things that have gone wrong.

12. You become comfortable in your own skin. You don’t feel the need to look any different than how you look. You don’t want to be more intelligent than how smart you already are. You don’t want to have a different personality than the one you’ve got. You celebrate what makes you you, while appreciating people for who they are as well.

13. You become a little more pessimistic about how things will work out. You understand that this isn’t being negative. It’s seeing the potential downside so you can prepare for it. You become a little less idealistic, and in the process become a more tolerable and balanced person to be around.

14. You no longer berate yourself for feeling fear and anxiety. You understand these emotions are key signals alerting you about something that needs to change in your life. You allow yourself to fully feel these emotions so they can drive you to action. You let these emotions drive you forward in a calm and balanced manner.

15. You learn to fall in love a little less hastily. You have felt the enormous rush of dopamine that comes from being in love more than a few times, and you start to value more highly the consistency that comes from a relationship that is built over the course of time. You prefer to be able to rely on your partner always being there than needing that constant rush that comes from new love interests.

16. You know that being in love is about the actions you take more than the feelings you have. You are there for your closest friends and family in their moments of need. You stand by your partner when she’s going through a tough time showing her vulnerabilities. You understand that feelings are ephemeral, but the way you treat people will stick with them and you for a lifetime.

17. You stop living your life based on the dreams you have for your future and start to appreciate what’s already happening in the present. You no longer visualize a different life for yourself than the one you’ve already got now. You see that the life you’re living now is already the life of your dreams. You dreamed this up long ago and today is already the magical embodiment of your infinite creative potential.

18. You stop living your life based on the expectations of others and start to develop a vision for yourself that comes from within. You understand that others have expectations of you. Often it’s because they want you to live a good life. But you know that the best thing you can do for them – and for you – is to live a life true to your own values, even if that means doing things people around you don’t expect you to do.

19. You know that the greatest moments of learning come from “unlearning”. You cherish the experience of letting go of an idea you once held as true and correct. You appreciate that admitting you were wrong creates space in your mind for something new to emerge.

20. You identify less with political identities of left versus right and instead focus on problems we can solve together. Political parties make less sense to you, but the political process of making the world better is still important. Your distaste of politics doesn’t turn you away from getting involved. It simply hones your focus on carrying out actions that have an impact.

21. You don’t need people to think you’re intelligent, and instead value being able to express things clearly in ways that can be easily understood by others. You refrain from using complicated words and superfluous expressions.

22. You are aware of the capacity of your own mind for self-deception. This self-awareness keeps you grounded and humble. It encourages you to seek feedback from others on your plans and dreams.

23. Your spirituality makes you feel a connection with others but doesn’t make you think your beliefs are more important than theirs. You don’t feel the need to put your spiritual beliefs into words, instead simply enjoying the experience of living in a world of “the great unknown”. You appreciate that others have beliefs that are more rigid and defined than yours, and you’re happy that they’ve found a path to enlightenment, even when it’s different than the path you’re currently on.

24. You find fulfillment less from achieving your own goals and more from helping others achieve theirs. Gandhi’s famous quote — “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” — has new meaning.

Notable replies

  1. This has to be one of the most enjoyable articles I’ve written for Ideapod in a long time.

    The format is a bit different, creating a list of principles to live by. I saw a similar article and followed this format. It really helped the words to flow.

    The second half of the article particularly came from a place where the words flowed out. The last few years has been a really transformative time in my life. The principles shared here have been essential for me to find my place in this world.

    I noticed in comments on Facebook that someone said these principles sound nice, but they will inadvertently serve the purpose of getting someone to accept their current situation in life rather than striving to change it. I disagree. When you apply these principles, I think you create a motor of change deep within that naturally powers you forward. You can’t help but create change when adopting these principles.

    What do you think? What would you add to the list?

  2. Reading the article again, I do feel these principles free you up to focus on what matters. If you can do that it would be likely to mean you can achieve more. Presumably you would still expect people to find fulfilment in their own achievements as well as other people’s?

  3. Thank you Justin, for writing this. I enjoyed reading it.
    It helps to bring clarity and a higher resolution to relationships .
    I like to think navigation in this way also navigates to resolve inner dialogues with the past.

  4. Reading this post made me think back to a test I took in 1966 in the US Army. They were looking for volunteers for some medical testing on the East Coast, and if I were there, I would be closer to home, which was Connecticut. I was stationed in New Mexico. So I raised my had and said: “take me.” But it was necessary to pass a test. I can see in hindsight it must have been some “Emotional Intelligence” test. There were over 500 who had also asked to participate. I was one of six or so that were accepted. It was not until we got there that they did physicals and because of my very fair skin, they figured I was not representative. I did get to see my family as I traveled back to New Mexico. I never thought much about “Emotional Intelligence” and the list of 24 items seem to be very reasonable; I am thankful I have avoided so many of the problems the youth of today seem to have. It was a different world for me when I was just 23.

  5. Avatar for Tony Tony says:

    I have been reading this article more than one time, and as I continue reading I realize how immature I have been all this time. Definitely there is a lot of work on my part that it has to be done; and I’ll ready started by putting in practice some of the suggestions provided in your article, but I must say- it hasn’t been easy, for me is a process. Anyway thank you for this article is helping me a lot. I’m glad I made the decision to become a member.

  6. Though implied in the list to a degree, I would add , you acknowledge your shadow , your evil and choose the positive potential instead. Otherwise, how could you make the choice ?

  7. Hi whatever your name is, this seams similar to freecheckups offered by doctors only to scare and confuse you. It seems you been a smart kid ruling over unfortunate sick kids or ones with domestic problems only to grow up and find out they are smarter than you now and way more successful and all you left with is a shining head. Still want the same scenario but please help who genuinely need your help not helping the good ones that you confuse first and then take a long time and money to bring them back to where they are already.

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Written by Justin Brown

I'm Justin Brown, the founder of Ideapod. I've overseen the evolution of Ideapod from a social network for ideas into a publishing and education platform with millions of monthly readers and multiple products helping people to think critically, see issues clearly and engage with the world responsibly.

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