Sensitivity and emotional maturity are topics coming to the forefront of awareness in our world.
What does it mean to be emotionally mature? How can a person who recognizes the need for self-growth cultivate emotional intelligence?
A child learns to walk by first crawling, falling and stumbling. There are scraped knees, bruises, laughter, confusion and eventually after trial and error, walking. Then running. It is the same learning curve for any human to develop their emotional self.
Can a person who is developing their emotional body expect to suddenly be masterful and composed at all times?
No, it is unreasonable to place demands on people to be fully emotionally sensitive and in control and not expressive. Every person learns at their own pace, in their own way, according to the conditions and support of their environment, people in it, and internal processes.
Self-judgment, and internally inflicted lacerations are impediments to emotional growth.
Growth happens. How it happens is a choice depending on responses to what is happening. When small children learn to walk and fall down, often times, they will laugh, get back up and keep going.
An adult who is attempting to walk—emotionally speaking—will slip, and in turn feel guilt, blame or shame, even though they had sincere efforts. The self-negative feelings are impediments and obstacles that discourage growth.
Feelings of self-negation are the only obstacles to emotional growth.
A tree grows when planted in the proper environment. It can’t help itself. It’s natural, and a part of universal law.
It is a universal truth that emotional maturity develops in supportive environments. It is inevitable that self-blame, self-judgment, self-directed hatred and loss of trust in oneself develops as one experiences failure over and over again.
So the only question becomes: How do we develop emotional resilience and get back up, once we fall?
The first step is to acknowledge the failure and see the negative for what it is; an internal toxin that kills the spirit. It’s like chopping off the foot of a child trying to walk, or poisoning the water of a growing tree. Failure is inevitable and continues for as long as failure is felt.
Second, to set aside the habitual judgments that arise when perceiving a failure.
The feeling of failure and self-lacerations are emotional.
Nurturing feelings of success are important, in any small way that can be cultivated. Recognizing that growth is natural is a huge assistance.
Honor the mistakes, slips and falls. They are gifts, not failures.
Through re-framing negative experience and seeing the golden lining, a harsh and hurtful experience may become a soul-opening lesson.
Celebrate the positive and progress made.
Energy, thoughts and words follow attention. Go beyond focusing on the positive, and celebrate growth and expansion. Remain focused on the goal. A person who is learning to accept and work with the emotional realm has courage. Yet the goal is an ideal, if the fullness of the goal is realized, the journey is complete. Until that completion occurs, it remains an elusive mystery.
The ideal of emotional maturity is not the reality of emotional maturity. What it is, and how one envisions it is different.
The positive growth that happens during the journey increases with celebration of success and progress made.
Focusing on the negative is a learned emotional response. The reaction can be unlearned and restructured. Compassion for oneself opens the doorway for having spacious understanding and acceptance of others. It also nourishes forgiveness. It grants the strength to draw strong boundaries, without judgment, enabling further emotional growth.
Part of a healthy environment is being around people who are emotionally accepting.
Finding supportive people who have developed emotional intelligence nurtures the same in others. Such individuals are not busy trying to help a person grow emotionally. Rather, through trusting the other to be responsible for their emotions, clear boundaries are made, and the emotional seeker remembers how to trust in their own self.
The emotionally secure person will not tolerate certain types of behavior. Yet they will also embrace and accept the growth curve of a person who is sincere in growing emotionally. The distinct difference happens by not doing anything for the other that appears like fixing or helping them, and instead taking personal responsibility for one’s own emotional state.
The example of emotional stability becomes an inspiration for the person who is discovering their emotional self.
And in this, we are all learners. Every human on this planet is discovering their own emotional center. Sometimes a person gets lost in their forest of negativity. They fall and skin their soul, break their heart and shatter their ego.
No person is emotionally mature in every aspect of life, at all times, in every way, at any age.
There is nobody to judge. We are all novices, children learning to walk and run at the emotional and spiritual level.
Remember to love oneself, it creates the atmosphere, presence and security for the other to remember their own state of love.
In martial arts I learned a phrase, “Samurai fall down nine times, gets up ten.”
Falling is inevitable, especially at the emotional level.
Make getting back up and continuing the journey just as inevitable.
Then resilience is natural and emotional maturity blossoms.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives