9 signs you’re not emotionally mature, even if you think you are

Emotional maturity, or emotional intelligence, is not something we’re all blessed to be born with. 

Instead, it’s a characteristic that evolves and grows with time and experience.

This special kind of maturity embodies our capacity to navigate the intricate terrain of our emotions, and those of others.

It’s not just about age or experience, it’s about understanding, managing, and expressing our emotions in a balanced and constructive way — which isn’t always a walk in the park.

Let’s take a look at some of the signs that you might not be as emotionally mature as you’d like to think.

1) You struggle with critical feedback

Receiving constructive criticism can be a struggle for us all. However, if you find yourself constantly reacting badly to it, it might be a sign of emotional immaturity. 

Instead of seeing feedback as an opportunity for personal growth, you might feel defensive, hurt, or even mad about it.

I once received feedback on a work project I had been developing for some time. My manager had sat me down and pointed out areas for improvement and suggested alternative approaches.

I’ll admit that my initial reaction was to be on the defense. I brushed off her suggestions and felt hurt that she didn’t praise my tireless work.

But when I took a moment to calm my thoughts and see things clearly, I realized that her critique could have really improved the project if I had been more open to it.

Not being emotionally mature in this way means you might struggle to separate your identity from your work. 

You might take criticism as a personal attack, rather than a chance to learn and grow as a worker.

Emotionally mature people are better able to take constructive criticism on the chin, recognizing that it helps them to better reach their full potential.

2) Sometimes, you play the blame game

Do you often find yourself blaming others for your problems or mistakes? Pointing fingers when things go south?

Well, this is one tell-tale sign of emotional immaturity. 

Instead of accepting responsibility for your actions, you might deflect blame onto external factors or other people.

A few years ago, I had a brief argument with my partner. They were upset with me because I forgot an important anniversary of ours. 

Rather than just acknowledging my mistake and apologizing, I ended up blaming my hectic work and college schedule for the slip-up, making lots of excuses for my forgetfulness.

This is one example of how deflecting and playing the blame game not only harms personal growth, but also our relationships.

Being emotionally mature means assuming responsibility for our actions and accepting our faults — sometimes in a vocal way — and then committing ourselves to making amends.

3) You can often be impulsive

Emotional maturity is closely linked to impulse control. 

If you frequently act on your emotions without understanding the consequences, it’s a sign that you might not be as emotionally mature as you think.

Impulsive behavior can lead to major regrets and harsh consequences.

Picture this. You get into an argument with a very close friend, and in the heat of the moment, you send a hurtful WhatsApp message without considering the impact it might have on your friendship. 

Have you ever been guilty of this one?

Later, you 100% regret firing off this text and instead wish you had taken a step back before reacting.

Thinking without acting affects us all. But there’s a way around this.

Being emotionally mature means having the sense to wait, reflect, and make decisions based on rational thinking rather than immediate emotional reactions (even if these emotions feel like they’re taking control of us).

This kind of personal growth involves understanding that feelings are transient and that acting impulsively can almost always do more harm than good.

4) Setting boundaries can be a hard task for you

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The ability to set healthy boundaries can be crucial for maintaining relationships and your own mental well-being.

If you find it can be challenging to set boundaries, it could be a sign that you haven’t evolved emotionally.

Those with little emotional maturity may struggle to say “no” or allow others to overstep their limits, leading to feelings of resentment, frustration, and sometimes even shame.

At the start of my career, I faced a situation in the workplace that really tested my ability to set boundaries.

One of my co-workers constantly asked for my help, even with daily tasks, and it began to impact my workload and increase my stress levels. 

Saying “no” in these situations was a huge, huge challenge for me, so much so that I often found myself agreeing to help even when I was already freaking out about how I’d find the time to get it done.

As time went on, and as my stress levels rose, I realized that finding a way to set clear boundaries in these situations was not only essential for my mental health but also crucial for maintaining my own professional standards.

All in all, emotional maturity means seeing the importance of setting boundaries to protect your time, energy, and emotional well-being, and being able to communicate this in a clear, kind way.

5) You’re always hungry for external validation

While it’s normal to seek validation and recognition from others, relying solely on external sources for your self-worth can be a sign of emotional imbalance.

If you constantly crave praise and validation from other people in order to feel good about yourself, it may hint at underlying insecurities.

In the past, I used to post a photo on Instagram and instantly check it for likes and comments. I became obsessed.

Each time I opened the app, I couldn’t help but feel crappy when I didn’t receive the level of validation I had expected. 

My self-esteem was closely tied to the approval of others, and it had a serious impact on how I felt about myself and my appearance.

Fortunately, I have progressed past this level of emotional immaturity and realized that my self-worth can’t hinge solely on external validation — it just isn’t sustainable. 

These days, I always try my best to find confidence from within and maintain a healthy self-image.

6) Expressing your feelings can be tough

Emotionally mature people are able to communicate their feelings openly and honestly, while those who lack maturity may resort to avoidance, defensiveness, or emotional outbursts.

In the past, during conflict with former romantic partners, I often became overwhelmed with anger and sadness. 

It was really hard for me to articulate my feelings clearly and calmly. 

Instead, I would either shut down completely or explode in frustration, and this made productive communication nearly impossible in those situations. It also led to a lot of relationships ending.

Emotionally mature people can express their emotions in a more level-headed manner than this. 

They understand that open and honest communication is key for resolving conflicts and maintaining strong, healthy relationships.

7) You show signs of poor stress management

Life is full of stressful factors, but how you manage them can reveal your level of emotional maturity.

If you often feel overwhelmed by stress and struggle to cope with it effectively, it might be a sign that you have some emotional growing to do.

When you’re emotionally mature, you’re able to prioritize self-care, seek support when needed, and face challenges head-on without falling to destructive, unhealthy habits.

8) The idea of change scares you

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Change is a natural part of life, but for some, it can be very daunting indeed. 

If you’re resistant to change and prefer to stick with the familiar, it may indicate emotional immaturity.

Those with emotional maturity take on change as a chance to become a better version of themselves.

In 2015, I found myself facing a huge career decision. 

My job had offered me an enticing opportunity to relocate to a new city, promising not just a change of scenery but a promotion.

It was a move that could have potentially taken my career to new heights. 

Despite this, I hesitated. The prospect of leaving my comfort zone filled me with a mixture of anxiety and fear.

I had grown so used to the familiar rhythms of my life, so I made the choice to say no to the offer. 

In hindsight, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened had I taken that leap of faith, embraced change, and accepted the promotion.

But at that time, fear of the unfamiliar held me back, and I settled for the comfort of the known, even if it meant missing out on a significant step forward in my career.

9) You still sweat the small stuff

It’s interesting to reflect on a certain aspect of emotional maturity, how we react to the little things in life. 

Looking back, I realized that I used to sweat the small stuff quite often. At times, I would find myself getting worked up over minor inconveniences or trivial issues. 

Whether it was getting lost in the same old mall parking lot or stepping in dog poop, these small mishaps had a remarkable power to disrupt my mood.

In hindsight, this pattern of overreacting to minor problems was a clear indicator that I might not have been as emotionally mature as I believed myself to be.

Emotionally mature individuals tend to maintain a more balanced perspective on life’s ups and downs. They possess the ability to discern what truly warrants their emotional investment and what doesn’t. 

For them, not everything is worth getting upset about. 

Recognizing this tendency to sweat the small stuff has been a crucial step in my personal journey.

It has allowed me to work on responding to life’s inconveniences with resilience, knowing that the small hiccups shouldn’t hold power over my happiness.

To sum things up, emotional maturity isn’t something you can simply declare or obtain overnight. It’s a continuous journey of self-awareness and personal growth. 

Recognizing the signs of emotional immaturity, even if you already believe yourself to be emotionally mature, is the first step toward positive change. 

It’s all about being open to feedback, taking responsibility for your actions, and learning to navigate the complexities of human emotions with a level head.

Remember, it’s all a process, and no one, and I mean no one, is perfect.

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Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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