Emotional Maturity

Have you ever found yourself pondering over the complexities of your most cherished relationships? Wondering why, despite your best efforts, things seem to be going awry? You’re not alone. Many of us grapple with these questions, often feeling like the more we try, the harder relationships become.

The crux of the matter often lies in our self-awareness, or rather, the lack of it. We may not realize how we present ourselves in various situations, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. The root cause? Our emotional maturity.

Understanding Emotional Maturity Through a Model

To delve deeper into this, let’s explore a model that can help us gauge our emotional maturity. Picture two walls in your room. One represents “low maturity” and the other, “high maturity”. These walls are connected by a continuum, and every individual lies somewhere on this spectrum. The direction you face determines your movement: either towards low maturity or high maturity. There’s no middle ground.

Low maturity is characterized by self-centeredness and pride. When facing this wall, our primary concern is our own interests. On the other hand, high maturity revolves around others and humility. Here, our actions and thoughts are directed towards the collective good.

The Mirror and The Window

Now, imagine a mirror on the low maturity wall. When you look into it, you see only yourself. This self-focus can lead to viewing others as mere objects, tools to achieve personal goals. Contrastingly, imagine that the high maturity wall has a window. Through it, you see others as equals, recognizing their humanity and valuing their perspectives.

Which Wall Are You Facing?

This model prompts introspection. Which wall do you face more often? Your answer might reveal why certain relationships are strained.

To illustrate, consider a common scenario from relationship workshops. A Green individual, valuing competence and control, marries a Blue person, who thrives on emotional connection. The former believes in expressing love occasionally, while the latter needs constant affirmation. This disparity, rooted in low maturity behaviors, can lead to misunderstandings.

Understanding the Intent Behind the Behavior

It’s crucial to discern the motivation or intent behind an action, as it helps clarify whether it’s stemming from a place of high or low maturity. Interestingly, the same behavior can be categorized as high or low maturity based on its intent. Consider this Gold behavior, the drive to take control and adhere to a clearly defined process. If the underlying intent is an individualistic “I need it this way,” it leans towards low maturity. Conversely, if a group or team collaboratively decides “we need it this way,” it reflects high maturity. By evaluating intent, we gain a clearer understanding of the maturity level associated with behaviors.

The Surfing Analogy

A young man who was learning to surf in Honolulu offers a valuable lesson. An old surfer taught him to “look at the spaces, not the faces” while surfing. This means focusing on the gaps between obstacles rather than the obstacles themselves. Similarly, in life, our focus determines our direction. If we constantly look at problems, we’ll inevitably crash into them.

Moving Towards High Maturity

By default, humans lean towards low maturity. To shift towards high maturity, one must:

  1. Recognize the existence of these walls.
  2. Identify which wall they’re currently facing.
  3. Make a conscious decision to face the high maturity wall.
  4. Practice high maturity behaviors like listening, empathy, patience, humility, love, forgiveness, and gratitude.
  5. Try to understand the intent behind the behavior.

By embracing these behaviors, we move closer to the high maturity wall, fostering better relationships and leading a more fulfilling life.

Choosing Maturity: The Path to Enriching Relationships

Life offers a choice: to face the low maturity wall and remain trapped in conflicts or to turn towards the high maturity wall and cultivate enriching relationships. The decision is yours. Reflect on this model, determine your position, and take proactive steps towards a more emotionally mature life. Your relationships, and indeed your life, will be better for it.