Friday, March 27, 2009

Emotional Maturity

1. Eliminate Magical Thinking 

Magical thinking is believing that something will happen without any real effort on your part. 

This is normal thinking in children, but self defeating in adults. 

People often can get stuck in magical thinking if a significant event happened to reinforce it in childhood. 

For a dramatic but not uncommon example, consider the child who's parent has a heart attack. If that child had been angry with the parent that day and though angry thoughts about them, they would probably magically think that they themselves had caused the heart attack.

That child as an adult may find it extremely difficult to confront others, especially others who are perceived as frail.

2. Learn to Tolerate Your Anxiety 

Suppressing your anxiety causes it to continue - "what you resist, persists". 

Then you start fearing the anxiety, a state referred to as anticipatory anxiety. 

It's sort of like working out with weights - when it is heavy and your arm gets tired, youíre natural impulse is to put down the weight, but you know to strengthen your muscles, you continue. 

Its the same with anxiety. Your tendency is to avoid it and seek immediate relief.

But to become stronger emotionally, take the time to look at your anxiety, learn about it, and work with it. 

3. Learn to Recognize and Appropriately Express Your Anger 

People who do not express their anger are usually afraid of what will happen if they do. They have distorted fantasies - fearing the floodgates and being out of control. 

They may have lacked family role models of appropriate anger expression.
Discharging of anger by screaming or hitting pillows used to be recommended, even by therapists.

But now most professionals believe this just keeps the nervous system on alert and does nothing to address a constructive plan of action. 

Instead, learn to put your anger into words.

If you're unsure how to do this, consider an assertiveness training course.

It will teach you the difference between passive, assertive, and aggressive expression of anger. 

4. Learn to Cope With Pain and Hurt 

Pain and hurt are natural consequences of life because of the simple fact that life involves change and loss. 

To never feel hurt is to be deadened. 

Our emotions are vulnerable but they are not fine china - overprotecting yourself leaves you vulnerable because you fail to develop strength and resiliency.

Moderate exposure to pain and loss is often what creates opportunities for developing coping skills. 

Are you someone who thinks of themselves as a victim whenever you experience pain or loss?

If so, what are you getting from this stance? 

5. Facing Your Guilty Feelings 

We all make mistakes and we all behave selfishly and meanly at times. 

Some guilt is based on reality and facing it helps us become better people. 

Rationalizing away this guilt is harmful, and leads you to make the same mistakes again.

Take responsibility for mistakes, verbally express your regrets and take action to make amends.

6. Learn to Live With Your Failures 

You can't avoid doing wrong, because perfection does not exist in humans! 

But forgiving yourself does not have to be limited to mental attitude. 

Action is what helps us live with our failures. 

Be of service to others, and have a positive attitude. 

Being useful to others and being part of the solution to problems around us is extremely therapeutic. 

7. Put Your Feelings in Perspective

Strive to see that life is gray, not black and white. 

Tolerate ambiguity. 

Avoid words like never and always.

Realize that the world is a vast place that we can never completely understand and certainly never "master", whatever that means.

Feelings are messy, mistakes are made, relationships are complex, and life is ever-changing.

Any one feeling or event is but a piece of the big picture.

And there's surely nothing you will ever experience and no pain you will ever feel, that has not been felt and survived by others.

If you doubt this, take a look around you and reach out.

Emotional Maturity & Emotional Intelligence

Youth fades - Immaturity Lingers

Are you entangled in difficult relationships or painful emotions? Do you suffer from old trauma? Do you suffer from your parents' drama, your partner's demands, your boss's moods? Soulwork Systemic Solutions can help you untangle your life ... and you can help other people reclaim their freedom.

Are you mature?

Your emotional intelligence, together with your intellectual intelligence and relationship intelligence, comprise essential parts of your life. You can use them to assess your emotional maturity and show where you can improve.

Your every relationship is a hologram of your life. You cannot hide your self-awareness, your maturity, your self-control, your commitment and your integrity. In every relationship you will show how well you can listen, communicate, initiate change, follow through and deal with problems.

Your relationships reflect your maturity

Every relationship is a hologram of your life. In every relationship, even the most trivial, you express important aspects of yourself. In relationship decisions you express your communication skills, your commitment and your integrity. You cannot not express your emotional intelligence.

Your maturity predicts your ability to manage and monitor your emotions, to assess the emotional state of others and to influence their opinions and behavior. Your emotional intelligence and emotional maturity seem to be most profoundly influenced by your relationshiphistory and your trauma history.

What are Emotions?

Many psychological definitions of emotions are devoid of the humanity of people who experience emotions. Many definitions are simply lists of abstractions.


An emotion is a patterned bodily reaction of either protection, destruction, reproduction, deprivation, incorporation, rejection, exploration or orientation, or some combination of these, which is brought about by a stimulus. (Feelings and Emotions 1970)

Other definitions focus on the experience of being human.


Emotions are sensory experiences that communicate across human systems. They can be distorted or dissociated according to values and beliefs. They provide motivation and inspiration to retreat ... or to excel  (Soulwork Coach Manual)

Are you Emotionally Mature?

If you avoid your emotions, you may become dissociated - robot-like. If you feel but avoid expressing your emotions, you may falsify your relationships, undermine your health and delay your personal development. Immaturity is associated with child abuse and emotional incest.

Estimate your emotional intelligence:

  1. Do you cope with unexpected change?
  2. Do you listen to other people's ideas?
  3. Do you recognize your feelings as they occur?
  4. Do you express your feelings appropriately?
  5. Do you control strong emotions and impulses?
  6. Do you take responsibility for your actions and behavior?
  7. Do you act intelligently and mature under stress?

Any "No" indicates part of your life where you may be emotionally immature, although most people will answer "No" to question 7. If the stress is high enough to cause you to age-regress (anything from a spider to the loss of a partner), most people will feel and act childishly for a time, before restoring balance and sobriety. During this time, immature behavior is likely.

You may respond to some stress from your early childhood, and act out your trauma. Soulwork coaching and training helps people handle emotional chaos as human adults.

Emotional Maturity & Relationships

Your emotional maturity will be immediately apparent in your relationships. Do you:

  • communicate appropriately? (for the relationship type)
  • clarify mistakes and wrong assumptions?
  • provide balance or justice when things go wrong?
  • build and maintain friendships?
  • teamwork toward shared goals?
  • share responsibility for children and projects?
  • participate in your community?
  • inspire and lead?

If not, the unique Soulwork programs can help you.


Youth Fades ... Immaturity Lingers

Children, young teenagers and some adults may need protection from immature behavior and impulsive decisions. Soulwork offers systemic coaching to people who:

1. Egocentric
You are self-centered and selfish. You have little regard for others and you are preoccupied with your ideas, feelings and symptoms. You deeply believe that you are somehow 
special. You demand constant attention, respect and sympathy.

2. Uncontrolled Emotions
You express yourself in temper tantrums, prolonged pouts and rapidly changing moods. You get frustrated easily, and you over-react to perceived criticism.

3. Gratification
You want it all now. Your behavior may be superficial, thoughtless and impulsive. Your loyalty lasts only as long as a relationship seems useful. You have chaotic finances.

4. Dependent
You are indecisive, easily influenced and you avoid responsibility for your actions. You stay in unpleasant relationships to avoid change.

If you want to change these behaviors, Soulwork systemic coaching can help you.

Emotional Control & Expression

What do you do after you feel provoked to express your emotions? How old do you act when you feel strong anger, sadness or fear? How far do you age-regress? Do you:

  • Express your emotions without conscious control (like a young child)?
  • Suppress your emotionally driven behavior (like a pre-teen)?
  • Repress or dissociate your emotional experience (like a teenager)?
  • Accept, acknowledge and express your emotions (like a mature adult)?

Your emotional age may change dramatically when you feel emotional. If you, for example, find yourself behaving like an 8-year old child when you are angry, Soulwork coaching can help you resolve it.

Left unresolved, the consequences of emotional expression, suppression or dissociation may be disease. Typical consequences include high blood pressure, colitis, ulcers and chronic fatigue.

Maturity & Trust

Rapport is often used to describe compliance, in which an abuser tries to influence your decisions, with sales pitches, confusing rhetoric or hypnotic language, often "for your own good".

Abusive Relationships . Provocative Coaching . More on Maturity ]

People may wonder if they can trust you with sensitive personal information. They may have trusted others and been betrayed or abused. Trust helps people get on with their lives, and is essential for innovation and creativity. Trust can take years to build, and seconds to destroy. The consequences of abused trust can hurt an organization, family or friendship. Trust needs accountability.

Trustworthiness is an essential part of emotional maturity. If people do not trust you, you may have to justify every detail of every decision. And - not everybody is as mature as you. Be cautious about who you trust with important information.

Maturity & Leadership

Leadership is more than a desire to delegate tasks. If your confidence provides orientation for unconfident followers, and if your decisions are beneficial, you will be respected. Soulwork coaching can help you accomplish family, team or organizational goals. Soulwork can help you:

  1. maintain a clear vision that encourages people to align with you
  2. create an environment where people want to be responsible
  3. clearly describe what is necessary for quality performance
  4. transfer responsibility to the people who do the work
  5. develop individual capability and competence
  6. set an example and challenge people to continually learn

Viktor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning

Ultimately, man should not ask for the meaning of his life, but recognize that it is he who is asked. Each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Do you want relationship coaching or systemic coach training? Do you want to coach people to resolve emotional and relationship challenges?

Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 2002, 2005 All rights reserved.

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