The saying “Older and wiser” is dangerously misleading. It implies that with age, comes wisdom, and for many adults, that simply isn’t true. Advancing in emotional maturity and psychological development is not guaranteed with age. People need healthy childhood environments and to have their emotional needs met in constructive ways during their developmental years in order to grow up to be emotionally mature adults. And for many, that simply isn’t the case.
Emotional maturity may not automatically come with age, but if you feel that you struggle with it, the good news is that you have the power to cultivate it – and it’s very much worth pursuing. Research out of International Journal of Management & Social Sciences shows that low emotional maturity correlates with loneliness and low life satisfaction. Of course, becoming more emotionally mature isn’t as simple as wanting to be. There’s some trial and error, and the first step is recognizing emotional immaturity. Here’s what you need to know about how to develop emotional maturity.
First, Why Does Emotional Immaturity Happen?
If you struggle in your personal relationships, don’t know how to address conflict in a healthy way or often feel that your emotions get the best of you, it is not your fault. Extensive research has shown that our childhood environments greatly impact our level of emotional maturity in adulthood.
There are several factors in childhood that can create an emotionally immature adult. The simplest one to identify is how your caregivers handled emotions. Children learn to mimic the behaviors of their caregivers. We learn everything from them, from personal hygiene to financial habits to emotional responses. If you grew up with an emotionally immature caregiver, you didn’t have a role model for how to handle emotions in a healthy way. An emotionally immature caregiver might have:
- Emotionally shut down/shut you out when they were upset
- Thrown tantrums/screamed/yelled in your presence
- Given you the silent treatment
- Emotionally leaned on you during difficult times
Growing up with parents and caregivers who failed to regulate their own emotions, and failed to address yours in a calm, measured and loving way could mean you struggle to develop healthy emotional behaviors.
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