I found this article in the School of Life and loved it so much I wanted to add it my blog and tape it to my bedroom wall as a daily reminder.
Learning to understand and tame my inner emotional demons has been (and still is) difficult and frustrating. I’m not the only one though; all of us have some kind of pain we’re working through. As we progress through life we realise that everyone has their own story, emotional baggage, and way of coping.
Emotional maturity helps develop compassion for others and ourselves. We are all imperfect creatures trying to make our way. Life is lived in the day to day, in enjoying the little moments and remembering that one day, we will be dead.
Here are the 26 signs of emotional maturity according to The School of Life:
1. You articulate your needs
You learn that what is in your head cannot be automatically understood by other people. You realise you have to articulate your intentions and feelings with the using words and can’t fairly blame others for not getting what you mean until you’ve spoken calmly and clearly.
2. You stop taking things personally
You realise that most of the bad behaviour of other people really comes down to their own fears and anxieties. You loosen your hold on self-righteousness and stop thinking of the world as populated by horrible monsters.
3. You are aware of your emotional triggers
You recognise how your distinctive past impacts your response to events and learn to compensate for the distortions that result. You accept that, because of how your childhood went, you have a predisposition to exaggerate in certain areas. You become suspicious of your own first impulses around particular topics. You realise – sometimes – not to go with your feelings.
4. You accept yourself as you are
You learn to be confident not by realising that you’re great, but by learning that everyone else is just as scared and lost as you are. We’re all making it up as we go along, and that’s fine.
5. You learn the virtues of compromise
You learn to settle in certain areas and recognise that you’re being mature rather than weak when you do so. You might put up with some inconveniences because you know that a friction-free life is a mirage.
6. You forgive your parents
You realise that your parents aren’t perfect human beings and may well have been painfully out of their depths, struggling with own demons.
7. You fall in love a bit less easily
When you were less mature, you could develop a crush in an instant. Now, you’re poignantly aware that everyone, however externally charming or accomplished, would be a bit of a pain from close up. You develop loyalty to what you already have.
8. You accept that you can be a difficult person
You learn that you are an imperfect person, with strengths and weakness, and at times quite a difficult person to live with. You shed some of your earlier sentimentality towards yourself. You go into friendships and relationships offering others kindly warnings of how and when you might prove a challenge.
9. You give up sulking
If someone hurts you, you don’t store up the hatred and resentment. You don’t expect others to know what’s wrong so you tell them straight and if they get it, you forgive them. And if they don’t, in a different way, you forgive them too.
10. You say what you mean and focus on what you want
You realise that one day you’ll be dead so you to try to say what you really mean, focus on what you really want, and tell those you care about that they matter immensely to you. Probably every day.
11. You accept that you make mistakes
You learn that you do sometimes get things wrong. With huge courage, you take your first faltering steps towards (once in a while) apologising.
12. You learn the virtue in pessimism
Instead of going into any situation with a list of high expectations, you go in a little more pessimistic about how things will turn out. As a result, you emerge as a calmer, more patient and more forgiving soul. You lose some of your idealism and become a far less impatient, rigid, and angry.
13. You understand that everyone, including you, has strengths and weaknesses
You learn to see that everyone’s weaknesses of character are linked to counter-balancing strengths. Rather than isolating their weaknesses, you look at the whole picture: yes, someone is rather pedantic, but they’re also beautifully precise and a rock at times of turmoil. Yes someone is a bit messy, but at the same time brilliantly creative and very visionary. You realise (truly) that perfect people don’t exist – and that every strength will be matched with a weakness.
14. You let go of ‘imposter syndrome’
You stop suffering from impostor syndrome because you can accept that there is no such thing as a legitimate anyone. We are all, to varying degrees, attempting to act a role while keeping our foolishness at bay.
15. You have your own emotional thermometer
You learn how influential exhaustion, blood sugar levels, alcohol intake, hunger, stress, can have on your behaviour. As a result, you learn never to bring up an important, contentious issue with a loved one until everyone is well rested, no one is drunk, you’ve had some food, nothing else is alarming you and you aren’t rushing to catch a train.
16. You interpret other people’s emotions with love rather than judgment
You realise that when people close to you nag you, or are vindictive, they usually aren’t just trying to wind you up, they may be trying to get your attention in the only way they know how. You learn to detect the desperation beneath your loved one’s less impressive moments – and, on a good day, you interpret them with love rather than judge them.
17. You learn to forgive yourself
You realise the pointless self-absorption involved in making yourself feel miserable and ashamed for past misdeeds. You become more of a friend to yourself. Of course you’re an idiot, but you’re still a loveable one, as we all are.
18. You accept that we all have a stubborn, self-righteous inner child
You learn that part of what maturity involves is making peace with the stubbornly child-like bits of you that will always remain. You accept that we all have our regressive moments and when the inner two-year-old in you rears its head, you greet it generously and give them the attention they need.
19. You live in the moment
You cease to put too much hope in grand plans for the kind of happiness you expect can last for years. You celebrate the little things that go well and realise that satisfaction comes in increments of minutes. You’re delighted if one day passes by without too much bother. You take a greater interest in flowers and in the evening sky. You develop a taste for small pleasures.
20. You are less concerned about what people think of you
You realise the minds of others are muddled places and you don’t try so hard to polish your image in everyone else’s eyes. What counts is that you and the people that really matter to you are OK with you being you. You give up on fame and start to rely on love.
21. You are open to feedback
Rather than assuming that anyone who criticises you is either trying to humiliate you or is making a mistake, you accept that maybe it would be an idea to take a few things on board. You start to see that you can listen to criticism and survive it – without having to put on your armour and deny there was ever a problem.
22. You look at the bigger picture
You remember more and more that you need to zoom out on the details in your life that pain you and focus on the bigger picture. You take more walks in nature, you might get a pet (they don’t fret like we do) and you appreciate the distant galaxies above us in the night sky knowing that there is something much bigger than us.
23. You are less reactive to people’s negative behaviour
Before getting furious or riled or upset, you pause to wonder what they might really have meant. You realise that there may be a disjuncture between what someone said and what you immediately assumed they meant.
24. You don’t believe in perfection
You realise that there aren’t any perfect people, perfect jobs or perfect lives. Thus you appreciate what is good enough. You realise that many things in your life are at once quite frustrating – and yet, in many ways, eminently good enough.
25. You are comfortable with vulnerability
When you start a friendship, you realise that other people don’t only want to know your good news, so much as gain an insight into what troubles and worries you, so that they can, in turn, feel less lonely with the pains of their own hearts. You become a better friend because you see that what friendship is really about is a sharing of vulnerability.
26. You know that no matter what, you will be okay
You learn to calm your anxieties not by telling yourself that everything will be fine. In many areas, it won’t. You build up a capacity to think that even where things go wrong, they are broadly survivable. You realise that there is always a plan B; that the world is broad, that a few kindly souls are always to be found and that the most horrid things are, in the end, endurable.