Emotional Maturity

Friendships, relationships, friendlationships, and interpersonal men's issues.
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Emotional Maturity

Unread postby musicmonkey » Thu Aug 18, 2005 12:19 am

Are You Growing Up - Or Just Getting Older?
by Jerome Murray, Ph.D. [1992]

A veteran school teacher was certain she would get the upcoming promotion to Vice-Principal since she had greater seniority than the other teachers. When the appointment went to a teacher with less experience she was outraged.

"How can you do this to me. I've been teaching school for twenty years" she lamented to the School Board Chairman.

With gentle wisdom he responded, "Dear lady, you haven't been teaching twenty years. You've taught one year twenty times."

Does your maturity match your chronological age? Do you grow a little wiser, a little more mature each year of your life? Or have you just lived one year that many times? To find out if you're growing up or just getting older consider the following measurements of age.


1. Chronological Age
Chronological age is a measurement of the time a person has lived---his or her age in years.

2. Physiological Age
Physiological age refers to the degree to which systems of the body have developed relative to chronological age.

3. Intellectual Age
Intellectual age refers to whether a person's intelligence is below, above, or equal to his chronological age.

4. Social Age
Social age compares social development with chronological age. It asks the question; "Does this person relate as well socially as he should for his age?"

5. Emotional Age
Emotional, like social age, compares emotional maturity with chronological age. It asks the question; "Does this person handle his emotions as well as he should for his age?"

We have no control over chronological age, and only minimal control over intellectual and physiological age; however, we can choose our social and emotional age. Social and emotional retardation can be remedied with effort. Learning appropriate social skills and developing emotional maturity are choices afforded to every person.

A person may be chronologically mature, but emotionally immature. A person may also be intellectually mature, but emotionally immature. There is no correlation between chronological age, intellectual age, social age, or emotional age. Just because someone is "grown-up" by chronological age doesn't mean they are "grown-up" emotionally.

Chronological maturity and intellectual maturity combined with emotional immaturity is not uncommon and potentially dangerous. A person whose body and mind is adult, but whose emotional development is that of a child can wreak havoc in the lives of others as well as himself.

Your relationships are dependent upon your total emotional development. The best way to understand your relationships is to understand yourself. The single most important task for any person wishing to improve his relationships is to increase his self-esteem and emotional maturity.

A relationship is only as well-adjusted as the two participants.

To determine the level of your emotional maturity compare your behavior to the symptoms of emotional immaturity and the characteristics of emotional maturity.


1. Volatile Emotions

Emotional volatility is indicated by such things as explosive behavior, temper tantrums, low frustration tolerance, responses out of proportion to cause, oversensitivity, inability to take criticism, unreasonable jealousy, unwillingness to forgive, and a capricious fluctuation of moods.

2. Over-Dependence

Healthy human development proceeds from dependence (I need you), to independence (I don't need anyone), to interdependence (we need each other). Over-dependence is indicated by; a) inappropriate dependence, e.g. relying on someone when it is preferable to be self-reliant, and b) too great a degree of dependence for too long. This includes being too easily influenced, indecisive, and prone to snap judgments. Overly-dependent people fear change preferring accustomed situations and behavior to the uncertainty of change and the challenge of adjustment. Extreme conservatism may even be a symptom.

3. Stimulation Hunger

This includes demanding immediate attention or gratification and being unable to wait for anything. Stimulation hungry people are incapable of deferred gratification, which means putting off present desires in order to gain a future reward. Stimulation hungry people are superficial and live thoughtlessly and impulsively. Their personal loyalty lasts only as long as the usefulness of the relationship. They have superficial values and are too concerned with trivia (their appearance, etc.). Their social and financial lives are chaotic.

4. Egocentricity

Egocentricity is self-centeredness. It's major manifestation is selfishness. It is associated with low self-esteem. Self-centered people have no regard for others, but they also have only slight regard for themselves. An egocentric person is preoccupied with his own feelings and symptoms. He demands constant attention and insists on self-gratifying sympathy, fishes for compliments, and makes unreasonable demands. He is typically overly-competitive, a poor loser, perfectionistic, and refuses to play or work if he can't have his own way. A self-centered person does not see himself realistically, does not take responsibility for his own mistakes or deficiencies, is unable to constructively criticize himself, and is insensitive to the feelings of others. Only emotionally mature people can experience true empathy, and empathy is a prime requirement for successful relationships.

Are you emotionally mature?


1. The Ability to Give and Receive Love

Emotional maturity fosters a sense of security which permits vulnerability. A mature person can show his vulnerability by expressing love and accepting expressions of love from those who love him. An immature person is unduly concerned with signs of "weakness" and has difficulty showing and accepting love. The egocentricity of immaturity will allow the acceptance of love, but fails to recognize the needs of others to receive love. They'll take it, but they won't give it.

2. The Ability to Face Reality and Deal with it

The immature avoid facing reality. Overdue bills, interpersonal problems, indeed any difficulties which demand character and integrity are avoided and even denied by the immature. Mature people eagerly face reality knowing the quickest way to solve a problem is to deal with it promptly. A person's level of maturity can be directly related to the degree to which they face their problems, or avoid their problems. Mature people confront their problems, immature people avoid their problems.

3. Just as Interested in Giving as Receiving

A mature person's sense of personal security permits him to consider the needs of others and give from his personal resources, whether money, time, or effort, to enhance the quality of life of those he loves. They are also able to allow others to give to them. Balance and maturity go hand in hand. Immaturity is indicated by being willing to give, but unwilling to receive; or willing to receive, but unwilling to give.

4. The Capacity to Relate Positively to Life Experiences

A mature person views life experiences as learning experiences and when they are positive he enjoys and revels in life. When they are negative he accepts personal responsibility and is confident he can learn from them to improve his life. When things do not go well he looks for an opportunity to succeed. The immature person curses the rain while a mature person sells umbrellas.

5. The Ability to Learn from Experience

The ability to face reality and to relate positively to life experiences derive from the ability to learn from experience. Immature people do not learn from experience, whether the experience is positive or negative. They act as if there is no relationship between how they act and the consequences that occur to them. They view good or bad experiences as being caused by luck, or fate. They do not accept personal responsibility.

6. The Ability to Accept Frustration

When things don't go as anticipated the immature person stamps his feet, holds his breath, and bemoans his fate. The mature person considers using another approach or going another direction and moves on with his life.

7. The Ability to Handle Hostility Constructively

When frustrated, the immature person looks for someone to blame. The mature person looks for a solution. Immature people attack people; mature people attack problems. The mature person uses his anger as an energy source and, when frustrated, redoubles his efforts to find solutions to his problems.

8. Relative Freedom from Tension Symptoms

Immature people feel unloved, avoid reality, .are pessimistic about life, get angry easily, attack the people closest to them when frustrated --- no wonder they are constantly anxious. The mature person's mature approach to live imbues him with a relaxed confidence in his ability to get what he wants from life.


Work on self-understanding and self-acceptance. Seek insight by asking significant others to provide candid feedback about your behavior. Then be objective---see yourself as others see you. Avoid defensiveness, it will prevent you from being the best you you are capable of being. Face reality and deal with it, don't avoid it.

Practice unselfish behavior. Actually experiment with it and notice how it feels and how others react to you. Compare the difference with how others react to your selfishness. You'll prefer unselfishness. It might even be said that giving to others is "altruistic selfishness" because the person who gives is benefited more than the person who receives.

Do not dominate others. Cooperate with others and seek "win-win" solutions to conflicts. If a solution to a problem isn't good for both parties to the relationship it won't be good for the relationship. In a successful relationship neither partner can be a winner if both aren't winners. Only the relationship should be the winner.

Be willing to change your social contacts. Avoid people and situations which bring out the worst in you. Instead, expose yourself to people and situations which bring out the best in you.


Search for a meaning in life which is bigger than you. It should give you a perspective of the majestic scope of life, not the narrow and limiting perspective of mere self-interest. It should provide goals for you to strive for; for in struggle we build the "character muscles" that give us inner strength and make life meaningful. The ultimate test of your sense of meaning of life is this: does it enhance and enrich, not only your life, but the lives of others? If it does, you'll find a rich satisfaction, available only to the emotionally mature.

Source: http://www.betteryou.com/maturity.htm

"Tell me, aren't we supposed to mature or something? I haven't found that yet. Is this as grown up as we ever get? Maybe this is as good as it gets. The years may go by but I think the heart remains a child. And the mind may grow wise, but the heart just sulks and it whines and remains a child... Why don't you love me?" - Everything But The Girl

Related Article Excerpts

In Biblical Principles for Christian Maturity, John H. Stoll, Th.M., Ph.D wrote:The world is concerned with physical/mental/social maturity, whereas God is primarily interested in our spiritual maturity along with the others (Luke 2:52). Philippians is the objective, authoritative book on spiritual and emotional maturity for the Christian.

Evan Hopkins once said a Christian is one who is: "Intellectually convinced, that is mental maturity; who is morally convicted, that is emotional maturity; and who is spiritually converted, that is scriptural maturity". This is God's design for each of His children.

In Grow Up! Richard L. Strauss wrote:Emotional babies don't make very good marriage partners! Maturity is basically unselfishness. Since the Holy Spirit is the only Person who can keep every expression of self in control, our relationship with Him becomes the single most important factor in our progressive development. We refer to this development as spiritual maturity rather than merely as emotional maturity. The two are similar, except that while emotional maturity relates primarily to the development of our human personality, spiritual maturity also recognizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and relates to our growing relationship with Him. There is no such thing as sinless perfection in this life - simply continuing growth.

Several Specific Characteristics Of Maturity

  1. A mature person accepts himself as God made him.
  2. A mature person profits by his mistakes and by the suggestions of others.
  3. A mature person adjusts to things he cannot change.
  4. A mature person accepts unpleasantness, disappointment, or distress with calmness and stability.
  5. A mature person accepts and fulfills his responsibilities.
  6. A mature person finds his greatest satisfaction in making others happy.

In What Is Emotional Maturity?, Herbert W Armstrong wrote:The truly emotionally mature control the emotions. THEY DO not ANESTHETIZE THEM! They do express, at the right time, and in proper degree, enthusiasm, happiness, joy. They do feel deep gratitude for blessings, and also they deeply feel reverence, adoration, in the worship of God. They sincerely feel compassion toward others - a feeling of true outgoing concern. They express sympathy and have mercy. Emotional maturity does not crucify emotions - it controls and guides them with right knowledge and true wisdom. Emotional maturity develops hand in hand with physical, mental and spiritual growth - the four blending, finally, into the perfect spiritual destiny and the very purpose of life.

Emotional Maturity Quizzes

Emotional Maturity
This test evaluates how you would handle certain situations, how you would interpret someone's behavior, and some of the beliefs that are behind it

How Old Are You Emotionally?
Quiz based on work by Judith Sills, Ph.D.
Last edited by musicmonkey on Thu Aug 18, 2005 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.


still playing catch up

Unread postby bubbadave3 » Thu Aug 18, 2005 11:58 am

Physiologically, I'm probably somewhat older than my chronological age, given the fact that I have a form of cancer that people tend to get later in life. I'm in pretty good health overall, and I exercise several times a week. However, having said that, I feel like I've had to play catch-up in comparison to other guys my own age in just about ever conceivable way. There was a time when I wouldn't deal with frustration well at all, and I was most interested in my own thoughts and feelings, as opposed to be interested in the welfare of other people. These things are changing, so that's a good sign. But, I'll probably be playing catch up the rest of my life, and that's just the way it is.

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Emotional Maturity - a pilgrim's progress

Unread postby musicmonkey » Thu Aug 18, 2005 9:34 pm

bubbadave3 wrote:These things are changing, so that's a good sign. But, I'll probably be playing catch up the rest of my life, and that's just the way it is.

I'm sure that certain things will jump out at everyone who reads this article. They did for me. Part of the process of maturing is knowing our weaknesses which then helps us avoid situations or people that bring out the worst in us. I've read this article several times over and it's hitting home in a few areas. I have not found any final answers. I am working on my own spiritual and emotional maturity, and I am making progress. One of you privated messaged me this:

"How much does the Holy Spirit hold back because he knows we are only ready for The Next Baby Step, or how often does He flood us with blessings or revelation and it goes through us like a sieve - or we run around boasting about 'the drop of water' which is all we retained from the tidal wave of glory."

Your fellow pilgrim,


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Unread postby graham » Tue Sep 20, 2005 3:12 pm

Thank, Dave, for this: extremely challenging, especially given the dreams I've been having since I have got to KY. I mean, is it the water, the trains running through my bedroom each night blaring their horns (no kidding) or just the fact that I am out of the pressure pot of life for a short season, but I have been having dreams of an event that happened when I was a kid and they are showing me where I've grown and where I am still bound by the past. Emotionally the dreams are serving as a big window into just how much the Lord has healed me, but also showing me that there are chains there from the past.n Perhaps it is God's grace, that I am being shown this at a time when I actually have space to process it and learn how to dig up the roots and move on a little.

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Unread postby Luke » Thu Dec 01, 2005 9:42 pm

I am 53 this year. I am at the point in my life that i did not think I would be at. I thought I would be teaching science in some school here in Minnesota after moving from a teaching job in AZ back in 1997.. My plans did not work out and I have done lots of things since until settling into working in the plant, that my brother in law is a foreman in.

Yet, through it all and all the disappointments I went through since 1997, I can say I am growing up emotionally and spiritually. Facing up to the reallities, the truth, the facts, is never easy but after wrestling with it all, one comes through it.

What one has is always better than what one wishes he had. I keep telling myself, I don't have time to complain, and I do not have need to either. All I have is the result of His grace and mercy towards me. All He allows me to do and the interests He allows me to pursue are just another evidence of His grace and mercy.

Gratitude to the natural result of seeing His hand in one's life. I have just to look back on the years and I see His direction and presence, so that tells me He is very much apart of my today's and will be there for my tomorrow's as well.

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