“Ugh, you’re being so childish”.
Probably a statement we’ve all heard at some point in our adult lives.
For many, this can be a bit of a low-blow. We like to think ourselves word-wizened and emotionally developed.
Even if you do occasionally slip into childlike giggles and immature behavior, chances are you’re actually a lot more emotionally mature than you think.
Part of emotional maturity also means lapsing into occasional childish behavior, as it’s an ongoing process and not something that just magically materializes overnight.
Being emotionally mature means you’re more able to understand other people’s feelings, navigate healthy relationships, and look after yourself.
It doesn’t mean never ever letting your inner child out to play, ever again.
So what 9 signs suggest you’re more emotionally mature than you think?
1) You’re comfortable with yourself
Phrases like ‘body positivity’ and ‘self-love’ get tossed around a lot.
Being able to show off and embrace all your curves and edges is a wonderful trait to have.
However, for many, ‘body neutrality’ or ‘self-acceptance’ is a more feasible place to start.
If you’re aware of your flaws and shortcomings and don’t turn a blind eye to areas in which you could use some improving, yet don’t let these impact your self-worth, chances are you have a well-developed state of mind.
2) You can see both sides to the story
Often, we can slip into black-and-white thinking, even if on a subconscious level.
In disagreements or when trying to understand new thought concepts, we might struggle to see beyond what we know and what we believe. I.e., The bigger picture.
Emotional maturity brings with it the ability to view things with a broader perspective.
If you’re able to enter into a disagreement with someone and still understand where they’re coming from, you’ve likely developed the ability to strive beyond the confines of your own thinking and understand that your word isn’t gospel.
This goes for playing mediator too; say your best friend starts venting about another friend and what they consider to be abhorrent actions.
You might nod your head and agree with everything they say.
You might also be able to delicately play the role of devil’s advocate and suggest how the other person is feeling and why they’re responding in such ways.
The latter is often conducive to far more emotional growth and mutual understanding for everyone involved.
3) You know that there’s more to people beyond first impressions
Whilst we tend to make assumptions within as little as the first 7 seconds of meeting someone, jumping to conclusions about what someone is like is not something you stand by.
You know that shy people can come across as rude and aloof when in fact they’re soft and squishy on the inside.
You know that people who try to butter you up with compliments and flattery might not be as saccharine as they initially seem.
You give people space to breathe and allow them to open up and show their true selves before making rash judgements on their character.
4) You’ve stopped striving for perfection
…because you know it doesn’t exist.
Emotional maturity brings with it the slightly sore realization that perfection doesn’t exist, nor is it attainable.
Whilst you toil away to do your best work, you know that the process involves learning and slip-ups.
As long as you’re able to admit when you make a mistake, you’re able to use the knowledge of what you’re striving for to create a more realistic vision for the future.
5) You don’t let the opinions of others detract from your sense of self
Being belittled, called dumb, or criticized for meaningless and petty things about ourselves we cannot change will always sting a little.
However, if you’ve realized that being the target of nasty comments and trivial gossip shouldn’t be taken personally, you’re miles ahead of those instigating the gossip in your journey into emotional maturity.
The source of gossip or malice you’ll likely forgive, even if not directly to their face.
You might also be inclined to let go of these people and these relationships, having realized them detrimental to your own sense of self.
But knowing that nobody’s perfect, you don’t hold it against them.
You know that lashing out and mocking other people is usually a reflection of how that person feels on the inside.
That in itself is a prime example of how nobody is perfect.
When faced with individuals who seek to demean you, you’re a master in sidestepping away. You avoid rising up to a heated debate, but remove yourself from the situation and know never to take it personally.
6) You’ve forgiven yourself, and you don’t hold grudges against others
We can all spend hours ruminating on all the bad things we’ve done, or how we might have approached situations differently.
Often, we hold our own actions against ourselves.
We can carry this internal resentment for years, even.
Emotional maturity requires an element of radical forgiveness.
This means forgiving the younger version of you who chose a path that was perhaps not ideal.
You’ve likely learned from those mistakes, but in growing and developing, you no longer hold any resentment or beat yourself up about where you went wrong.
This compassion and forgiveness you extend also to other people; you’re not one to hold grudges against those who have hurt you.
Grudges only hold you back and keep you stuck in the past, which you know to be detrimental to continuing to grow and mature.
So you let these feelings of resentment and anger sit for a while, before letting them go.
In the process, you might find yourself deciding to move on from the relationships which caused you grief as well; the courage to let go is a brave stride many emotionally mature individuals learn to take.
7) You’re not dead-set on a happily-ever-after
You might still be hopelessly romantic and adore sharing love-notes and getting a dessert with two spoons, but you’ve come to realize that fairy-tale love doesn’t thrive in the real world.
The notion of love at first sight and riding off into the sunset is lovely, but also not something you’re on the hunt for.
Instead, you know that everyone comes with their own set of flaws and weaknesses.
Infatuation and lust might get the ball rolling but won’t keep a couple together.
Healthy relationships mean compromise and working to grow together.
Instead, you focus on weaving trust, communication, and honesty into your relationships (with friends and partners alike) to form long-lasting connections.
8) You look after yourself
Being labeled as childish when you’re likely more emotionally mature than you or those around you think isn’t an uncommon occurrence.
This is largely due to the fact that you tend to your emotions and nurture your inner child.
You feed your creativity and continue to approach life in a playful and joyous manner.
Trying new hobbies, traveling to new places. You know that these count for enjoyment just as much as monetary or professional success.
Your emotions also require tending to.
With time, you’ve come to realize that incorporating self-care practices such as exercise, meditation, dance classes, or other quirky hobbies give you space to unwind and continue making the most out of life.
9) You’re able to communicate and listen
Most of us can talk.
Being able to listen, to comprehend, and to understand what other people are saying is a very different skill.
Equally, being able to express your own thoughts and opinions in a coherent and structured manner – not turning to anger or shouting in times of frustration – is also an incredibly worthwhile skill which takes patience to develop.
Many people listen half-heartedly and think only of what their next reply will be.
Or they start getting frustrated and cutting in.
Or they don’t say anything at all out of fear of their inability to voice it accurately.
If communication comes naturally to you and you find that people give you their full attention when you speak and are able to successfully relay what you’re saying, you’ve likely mastered the art of communication.
Or not mastered, as communication can always be improved upon.
Still, communication and listening are both pillars of emotional maturity, and the possession of these skills demonstrates a heightened awareness of yourself and those around you.
Maturing is an active verb. It’s a process, and requires regular effort and discipline to improve.
The first step is being conscious of where you are at now, and how you might improve upon your awareness of yourself and those around you.
It also takes a great deal of courage to look honestly at your own flaws and shortcomings and begin putting in the work to expand your mind and become better at communicating and supporting those around you.
Interested in learning more?
Our founder Justin Brown has compiled a comprehensive list of 24 signs of emotional maturity which can help you to identify additional areas in which you can work to become the best version of yourself.