March 23

The First Steps Towards Emotional Maturity: Exploring Childhoods and Unlived Lives

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Introduction

Psychology offers us a range of ideas related to maturity. But emotional maturity is a concept that has been more difficult to define and there are a range of definitions you can find on the internet. This article is about how you can develop emotional maturity but to start let's give a definition:

Emotional maturity is the process by which we develop the knowledge, skills and abilities to understand and manage our emotions. It is not linked to chronological age or life experience, but rather by how a person comes to understand their own and others experiences. It is through this process and consciously trying to use their emotions to understand a situation and react in helpful ways that a person develops emotional maturity. 

We aren’t taught about emotions in schools or colleges. Most of us don’t get much education about emotions at home while growing up. Much of what we learn is trial and error, but without guides to know what is error! Sadly many of us grow older but do not develop emotional maturity. So how can we develop emotional maturity? What do we have to do? What do some of those first steps look like? In this article, I will show you using a few case examples. 

The child is father to the man (woman)

Kevin: An Example of How Emotional Maturity is Stifled 

The Child

Kevin is 8 years old. He lies in bed listening to the angry voices coming through the adjacent wall. He pulls the bedclothes over his head, hoping to shut them out, but they get louder. There are thumps and bangs and his mother’s voice becomes shrill and fearful. Through the opposite wall he hears his little sister begin to sob. Stealthily (for he must not be detected) he creeps out of bed and into her room. He must stop her crying. If she is heard she will become the target of their father’s rage as well and he cannot let this happen. If she is hurt it will be his fault. He must protect her and make sure she is safe. He has little thought for his own safety. His role is to protect. His own fear has to take a back seat. 
Kevin is watchful. He can detect every nuance of emotion in others. He learns to identify the situations, actions, behaviours that will upset dad and mum and he makes sure they do not happen. He has become Hyper vigilant. He becomes a master of diversion and distraction, developing the ability to anticipate what is wanted and needed by others and making sure he can provide it. He loses himself in the process, being only slightly aware that there is a profound feeling of emptiness and confusion but not valuing himself enough or being sure enough of his own feelings and what they mean to pay much attention to it. He loses himself in others. 
Kevin takes on the task in the family of smoothing out problems and attempting to keep everyone happy – an impossible task. The cardinal rule is that daddy must not be upset and mummy and baby sister must be protected. He must make sure that mummy’s lot is not made any worse by making as few demands as possible and anticipating mummy’s needs. He becomes an adult child – overly responsible and terrified of making mistakes or giving his father any cause to be angry / violent.

The Man

At 40+ with three children of his own Kevin is still playing out his role from his family of origin. He wears a permanent glowing smile. He is all things to all people – his many friends, his ‘good’ wife, his parents and his children. He has the ‘perfect’ family. No shouting in their house; no frightened children; no chaos or disorder. Everything is perfect and controlled. He is the envy of friends and work colleagues. How does he do it?  

What an achievement you might think, to emerge from such a childhood and achieve all that perfection. And it is an achievement but it has been achieved at a very high cost. He feels empty; his relationship with his wife is not satisfying. He lives everyone else’s life and does not know what he wants or who he is. He puts everyone else first and in some ways it feels safe and familiar to do so. That way he does not have to consider what it is he wants to do with his life. He has moments of panic when he thinks about his children growing up and leaving. How will he fill that empty space? But like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind he tells himself that he will think about that ‘tomorrow’.

Kevin never knew, as a child, the freedom that comes from feeling secure in his home; from feeling protected, loved, accepted for who he was. He did not have time to explore his own aptitudes and access and express his feelings. His emotions had to be sublimated to those of others. He did not have the space to deal with his feelings, nor was he helped to express them and so he suppressed them; stuffed them down inside and put the lid on tightly. He did not give himself permission to have feelings. It was too distressing and alarming. He could only feel ‘happy’. Since he rarely was truly ‘happy’ all his feelings were labelled in this way. Any feelings that did not fit into this category were buried or disowned. 

Kevin is not untypical of many men and women who were reared in unpredictable and insecure family surroundings. Not all become adept at keeping people happy. Some become bullies, locked into rage at the deprivation of their childhood. Some become social isolates and others retreat into the realms of make believe and lose the ability to distinguish between the real and the imaginary.

In my experience there are very few people who do have a healthy, balanced upbringing that promotes emotional maturity and the ability to form healthy relationships. People often tell me that this is a cynical and pessimistic view of the world. Is there nobody, they ask, who had a healthy, happy childhood? I suppose that is difficult for me to answer because I tend to meet people who have realised that their lives are not turning out as well as they imagined they might. I do know, however, that many people who appear, ‘on the face of it’ to be well adjusted, ‘normal’ people show up differently when they begin to reveal the truth about their lives and take off the masks they use to attempt to persuade others that they are OK. Sometimes I see people in their late 50’s and 60’s who are very puzzled because their lives have been ‘happy’ up to now and suddenly things are going wrong. Their partners are not happy with them. Their children are going off the rails. How could this be when they have done everything ‘right’? 

I also deal with people from many walks of life who come to see me for many other reasons, but one of the predominant ones is that they are confused about why they do not seem to be living the lives they want to live. They are usually ‘successful’ people. However many suffer from ‘anxiety’ or ‘depression’; some have difficulty with relationships, losing themselves in them or finding themselves being dissatisfied and critical of partners. Typically, they cannot understand this, after all they had perfectly ‘happy’ childhoods and wonderful loving parents. Some wonder why they persistently fall out with people or people fall out with them. They often complain of feeling isolated, lonely, unlovable and worthless – but they were perfectly ‘happy’ as children and their parents loved them, so were they born defective? 

If we consider the number of women who die as a result of Domestic Violence (2 per week), the numbers of young people who self harm or have eating disorders, the numbers of criminals filling our jails to over- capacity, the amount of people taking anti-depressants or medication for stress related illnesses, it becomes apparent that something is radically wrong in our society. These issues know no class boundaries. They are rife at every level of society. There is evidence to show that much of this malaise stems from childhood experiences where basic human needs were not met, since the people whose duty it was to provide them had no idea what they consisted of – never having had that experience themselves. The bible said it all; if we rear our children from ignorance we will create another ‘ignorant’ generation. 

It is not that the vast majority of parents or carers intend to damage their children, far from it, but nobody provided them with a manual when their children were born. Trial and error is the only method of child rearing that seems to prevail and it usually turns out to be mostly error. If this sounds critical I apologise for it because I know that parenting is the most difficult job in the world. What works with one child does not appear to work with another – one size does not fit all. Doing the opposite of what your parents did, since they had obviously got it wrong, does not seem to work either. It is one extreme as opposed to the other. 

And what of Kevin now?  As soon as he began to look at what he wanted he began to realise how empty he felt. He was always ‘busy’ being all things to everyone. He began to have aspirations. He was an intelligent and capable man. As soon as he began to look at what lay behind his mask and recognise his need to grow and liberate himself from his self-defeating patterns he realised that he has a great deal to contribute to the world and felt the need to do so. He has begun to do this. 

Of course, the people around him did not easily accept this new Kevin. They had been indulged – had everything provided for them; had, in fact been given everything that Kevin had never had – and then some. This also has its drawbacks as far as they are concerned. Daddy became someone so perfect that they had no chance of measuring up. Also their expectations of others were unrealistic. They were somewhat selfish and self-centred in their interactions with others and they wanted the dad back that they had before. 

So life did not get easier for Kevin, if anything it became more challenging. He can now feel his emotions. He has access to a whole range of emotional expression. He can take risks. His life has become three dimensional, rich, fulfilling with many ups and downs. He is beginning to know who he is and he is contributing his learning to others. His children are becoming more aware of the need to consider others and realising that sometimes life does not turn out the way we think it ‘should’. We do our offspring no favours by catering for their every whim and making life smooth and problem free. That is not what effective parenting is about and will not foster emotional maturity in our offspring. If that is confusing then perhaps the next section will go some way to clarifying the issue.

Had Kevin not begun the journey of emotional maturity by discovering how his childhood had affected him he would still be living an unfulfilled and somewhat false existence, wondering why he received so little ‘return’ on his investment in other people and why his life felt so empty and meaningless, despite his many relationships and his involvement in the lives of others.  

There are many Kevin’s (or Kates) in this world but not all people are unfortunate enough to have the dramatic experiences that he had in his childhood. Some children have much more subtle, but equally destructive environments that stifle their journey to emotional maturity.

Developing Emotional Maturity Involves Facing up to How Things Really Are

It is extraordinarily difficult for some people to see that the way they are is a result of their childhood experience – and why should they? What is to be gained from it after all. Don’t they just have to ‘get on with it’? This is the view of many people who are abused in childhood. It is their way of not dealing with the pain of it.

This was certainly Jack’s view. Jack came to me as a result of difficulties he was experiencing in his marriage. He was a very nice, calm, reasonable, decent man. His wife,  however was always finding fault with him and would not ‘get off his back’. His wife had an illness which meant she was frequently in pain. It made her irascible and unreasonable. No matter what he did he could not get anything right for her. I asked him if this reflected a situation in his childhood? No, told me, he had a very happy childhood. His parents loved him very much and everything was lovely. How my heart sinks when people tell me this. It is impossible for a childhood to be ‘perfectly happy’ and for parents to be ‘perfect’. How would they have to be in order to fit that bill?  

The vast majority of people I encounter lend little credence to the effects that early childhood experiences have on their development. They had ‘perfectly happy childhood[s]’ and ‘perfect’ and ‘loving’ parents’. They were, they tell me, ‘so lucky’. They are not dissembling. They genuinely believe this of their childhoods and their parents. So how can this be when many of them are clearly struggling with life in many ways?  Some that I see are over-focused on others – they are overprotective with their children and ‘other-centred’ to the distinct detriment of themselves. When asked ‘who looks after you then?’ they often become tearful or angry, sometimes demonstrating a deep resentment that in relationships it is often a one-way process. Others are withdrawn and passive, rarely expressing an opinion and fearing intimacy. One such person would be like this most of the time and then suddenly erupt into anger for no reason that was apparent to the people around him. But he had a perfect childhood! 

If people think that their childhoods were ‘perfect’ they often fail to detect the covert messages that were conveyed by parents and significant others. These messages are often transmitted by deeds rather than words or come disguised as being transmitted in the spirit of love and care. Take the case of Jack for instance.

Jack was an honourable, upstanding man of total integrity who would never knowingly cause harm or hurt to anyone. Perfect husband you might think. Not so I’m afraid. His wife was intent on leaving him – not because he was cruel or difficult or a bad husband or father. She could not really put her finger on the problem other than to say that he was not ‘there’. 

As I began to get to know Jack his wife’s comments became much more comprehensible. You could say there was ‘nobody at home’ as far as Jack was concerned. It must have been like living with a butler or manservant, attentive to your every whim, but never giving anything away – no feelings, no challenges, no empathy, no nothing really. An empty shell – you might say, or one of those conch shells that give an echo of something but other than that there is emptiness. This produces a dilemma for the partners of such people because there is really nothing to complain about. It is rather like finding yourself criticising a saint because they are too good to be true and therefore finding that criticism really hard to justify. This frequently leads to feelings of guilt and anguish on the partner’s part as the poor man/woman has done nothing to deserve your scorn and disrespect, other than be ‘saintly’ in the face of your derision and anger. There seems to be no solution other than to leave. 

Developing Emotional Maturity Involves Facing How Things Have Really Been 

So why did Jack develop into this ‘shell’ of a person and how could he be reunited with the lost occupant? The answer was to develop emotional maturity.

As I said earlier questions about his childhood yielded the ‘normal’ answers. It was ‘lovely; wonderful mother and father; good relationship with brothers; lots of fun; nothing untoward at all – not like some unfortunate people! He had a very privileged upbringing; private education; not short of money; caring surroundings. Well yes, his father was a ‘bit strict.  ’Yes he was sent off to boarding school when he was 8 and he did not want to go but his parents did that because they wanted the best for him. No he didn’t like boarding school and was bullied, but then that was to be expected. You just had to ‘get on with it’. His mother was ’really lovely’ but when I asked him whether his mother intervened when his father bullied him he said that she did not because she was also frightened of this father. This is a betrayal of the child who needs protection from misguided parenting. It is not a criticism of the mother. When you cannot stand up for yourself it is also difficult to stand up for others but the effect on the child is just the same – they are unprotected and because you are not doing your job – of keeping them safe – they are betrayed.  Many women would be appalled to hear this. It sounds so harsh. What could they do when they were so afraid themselves? I totally understand this. Many women have been bullied by one or other or their parents and it has rendered them powerless in the face of bullying from a partner. Perhaps Jack’s mother thought she was protecting him by agreeing to him being sent away to boarding school, but of course he was bullied there too; he felt powerless and defenseless in the face of dominant others. 

When questioned about his feelings around boarding school he said that he just kept them to himself, although he did send a letter home saying that he was not happy but this did not receive any response. I imagined with him what it might be like to be an 8 year old boy, alone, frightened and feeling abandoned and the effect this might have on him. He began to look sad at this point. Maybe the coat of gloss he had painted over his experiences was wearing off. 

It may seem cruel to some of you to expose someone to painful feelings. Why not leave well alone?  Of course if all is well then it would be left alone. His wife would not have left and he would never have come to talk to me. Jack had reached the point where he was realising that all was not well and he needed to do something about it.

Developing Emotional Maturity Involves Honestly Appraising Your Childhood

It is the predominant responsibility of parents to respond to the basic needs of their children. Those are not simply the child’s physical needs for nurture, but they are their emotional needs also. These are the need to feel safe, loved, important, included and accepted for who we are or have the potential to be. Parents need to show empathy and sooth us when we are hurt, distressed or afraid. This allows the child to know that they deserve kindness, attention and all the other responses described above. It is their entitlement. Jack was amazed to hear that he had any entitlements, let alone the ones I described. 

The predominant figure in Jack’s drama was his father. After some further questioning Jack admitted to being scared of his father although he still maintained that he loved him and his father was doing his best (which of course, he was). After some prompting and a lot of ‘inner work’ he wrote a letter to his ‘dear but frightening father’ an excerpt of which is below:

What was it that made you always want to be in control of me? Was it that you gave me opportunities in life which you never had and that you did not want me to waste those opportunities? And yet you never saw that by controlling and directing me so tightly I never had the choices. ‘Do as you are told’ was what you drummed into me. You gave me wings but you clipped them before I ever had the change to use them. You took away my confidence in myself and made me dependent on you.


Was it army discipline you inflicted on me, believing that discipline was better than your love? Did you hope this would produce strength and character in me? But in practice you squashed me, never giving me a chance to be myself.


(This was never intended to be sent. It was simply a way of allowing him to reflect on what his experience of his father really was)

Jack read this letter out to me and in hearing himself say all this it was an eye opener for him. He now saw how his relationship with his father really was. His experience of his father had left him, not surprisingly, with an aversion to conflict. Facing this was a critical step towards his emotional maturity. 

Developing Emotional Maturity Involves Managing Conflict

One of the important skills we need to learn in life is, in my opinion, how to deal effectively with conflict. Human beings cannot avoid conflict. We meet people with differing values and varying opinions. We also meet people whose inclination is to dominate and control us whether we like it or not and whether it is in our best interests or not. Typically, it is not. We need to learn to put healthy boundaries around ourselves and to enforce those boundaries around people who would violate them. If we are conflict averse and cannot give ourselves permission to be angry this is impossible. Anger is a passionate emotion that enables us to assert ourselves and stand up for ourselves. Without it we are sunk and people can walk all over us. Anger is not violence. Violence is anger ‘acted out’ – demonstrated rather than expressed. Sadly many people do not make this distinction, confusing anger with violence or being afraid that any expression of anger will escalate into violent behaviour. Also since Jack did not really like his father he was afraid that anger would make him unlikeable too.

In exploring his aversion to conflict I undertook an exercise designed to explore the way people interpret events, or ‘construct’ them in their own minds ( See fig. 1. ). The first step in this process is to elicit the ‘constructs’ that people have developed which are of importance to them. To Jack ‘ anger’ was obviously an important ‘construct’. To find out what Jack construes as someone being angry I used the process of Pyramiding, devised by Landfield (The process is known as pyramiding since it “ladders downwards” from the point or summit of the pyramid to the multitude of behaviours and skills associated with the personal construct chosen). Pyramiding, requires questions like “what kind of person does y?”, “How does that/they differ from someone else?”, this process allows the client to narrow down their definitions and arrive at the lower level constructs.

ANGRY (Emergent pole/ non preferred pole)

How do you know people are angry? 

Forceful; push thought onto you without regard to you; hostility; aggression; facial expressions/ atmosphere, frightening 

 What are the disadvantages of being angry?

Lack of respect 

Ridicule

Losing power to others (They can see they have ‘got me’

Lose independence / power

Shatter illusions about self / life

Loneliness—nobody there

What might be the advantages of being angry?

Can be yourself (not fit into other people’s ideas about me 

Defend your own space

PEACEFUL (Opposite Pole / preferred pole)

How do you know people are peaceful? 

Don’t fly into a panic; relaxed in attitudes; don’t react straight off; reasonable.

Why do you prefer people to be peaceful ? 

Don’t like confrontation 

Can be relaxed/ not worry and be on the alert

Be myself

Not be pushed around into shapes that don’t fit

Flourish more / come out of my shell

Freedom of expression

What might be the disadvatages of being ‘peaceful’

Might not know what is going on

Be Irritating

Not challenging

I asked him’ how do you know someone is angry, what would they be doing, saying what would the tone of their voice be, the expression on their face? Fear produces a state of heightened perception in people and means they can often exaggerate or inflate the evidence before them. Jack could interpret the expression of disapproval for ‘anger’, but there is a subtle distinction between these two states.


The next step was carried out using methods of laddering devised by Hinkle (1971) which enables the questioner to get down to the fundamental reasons why people suppress or block certain feelings or develop certain prejudices. It is designed to help the person concerned to ‘loosen’ their construct so that they are not, ‘impaled on it’ as Kelly (1955) says. In saying this he meant that if we have very fixed and inflexible constructs it is impossible to grow or see alternatives. It creates an impasse in relationships

If we think in black and white’ terms we cannot embrace other people’s points of view or give credence to their statements or arguments. We stubbornly adhere to what we think is ‘right’. Any evidence to the contrary only persuades us to dig in our heals more firmly.  

To ensure that you remain ‘open minded’ when relating to others and being more flexible in your life there is a simple process which can be undertaken. This was devised by Hinkle. This requires the naming of a construct (in this case angry people) and then asks what, in that person’s view, is the opposite of this.

Reading this you may not agree with the word for the opposite of ‘anger’ that Jack came up with. This is often the case. Each ‘construct’ is unique to the individual exploring it. It is the way that individual sees and interprets the world around them.  Simple questions are asked (see script in red) The first question examines what evidence people look for to determine if, or whether people are (in this case) angry. It is interesting that Jack anticipates that ‘forceful’ people are likely to be ‘angry’. In my job as a PE teacher I was often ‘forceful’ in the sense that I urged people passionately to push themselves and do their very best. I was not angry however. So the very attributes that we look for to determine what states of mind or motivations people have may not be accurate. I then asked which state Jack preferred - angry or peaceful. His preference was ‘peaceful’. The next question is to ask what were the disadvantages of being angry. As you can see there are great incentives to Jack in not being angry. If he is angry the fear is that he will not be respected, he will be ridiculed and – very fundamentally – he will be lonely. Around ‘peaceful’ people he can be himself, be relaxed and free to express himself. 

On further exploration of this ‘construct’ it became clear when considering if there might be ‘disadvantages to being peaceful that Jack could see he said that he might be ‘irritating’ and ‘not know what was going on’. I am not sure what he meant by this but I guess that he shut down and became oblivious to other people and their feelings. You can also see that the ‘advantages of being angry were that you can ‘be yourself and ‘defend your own space’. In other words, by never giving himself permission to be angry or express anger (assuming he would know how to) Jack became defenseless and unable to ‘be himself’.  

So, there is a great deal of ‘logic’ in Jack’s preference to be around people who are ‘peaceful’ and not ‘angry. His way of being ‘peaceful’ however often amounts to withdrawing from situations or from people who are exhibiting signs of being ‘angry’. This, in his own words’ can be ‘irritating (see under ‘disadvantages of preferred pole). If people find you ‘irritating’ then they can become angry, so this particular view of the world is very self-defeating, producing the very outcome that you are intent on avoiding at all costs – that of being around an angry person. I personally can find ‘peaceful’ people very irritating as it seems that they are impervious to anything going on around them – ‘nobody at home’ – I call it. They live ‘in their own head’ and provide little or no company. 

If you examine the chart (fig. 1) you will see that the very outcome that being ‘peaceful’ is desired to achieve is also perceived as being possible to achieve by being ‘angry’. This is arrived at by asking the person if they can see any advantages to the non- preferred pole (Angry) and any disadvantages to the preferred pole (Peaceful).  This step is known as ‘loosening’. The basis of the theory is that we develop constructs of reality that we firmly believe are reality and then we interpret everything that happens around us through the lens of that construct or those constructs. We have a multitude of constructs making it difficult for us to see that what we think is happening may not necessarily be the case. This phenomenon is at the root of most conflict and ultimate breakdowns in relationships at work and at home. 

Jack had abdicated any chance of being angry in his own defense and consequently was vulnerable to people who ‘frightened’ him or were ‘forceful’. This left him exposed to anyone who challenged him and in his work this proved a problem as he was unable to provide powerful leadership or manage difficult situations. He did not get the promotion he clearly deserved and this left his wife feeling let down by him as he did not progress up the career ladder as she hoped he would. She saw him as being ‘weak’. 

Jack’s feelings of powerlessness around anger and his subsequent strategies to avoid conflict or unpleasantness almost certainly stemmed from his early experience around his father and his unconscious decision to be ‘like his mother’ and not ‘like his father’. Was it really so black and white and was there no other alternative? Well in the case of a child – there is not. Children see things in terms of polar opposites and this is where our basic constructs are formed. It is either this or that and there is no ‘in between’. From this deficiency all sorts of consequences ensue. 

His treatment by his father knocked the stuffing out of Jack, not perhaps physically, but emotionally, by his constant disapproval and criticism. He was a ‘disappointment’ to his father and never quite came up to scratch. Jack never had permission to have a voice and if he attempted to do so was instantly dismissed and denigrated. He lost his sense of worth – of who he was. The mirror on the wall was certainly not saying ‘you are the fairest of them all’. The messages the mirror (father) was giving were you are worthless, you are not worth listening to or being interested in, you are flawed and defective. You are nothing and nobody. And that is how Jack behaved. 

The fact that his mother was also afraid of his father and unable to protect him gave him the message that he, like she, was powerless in the face of anger. She stood by and watched her child being subjected to emotional abuse. This is not the action of a ‘loving’ parent. It is the action of someone who herself has probably been subjected to abuse and not protected from it. And so it goes on – the sins visited on the parent are visited upon the offspring, from generation to generation, either because the parent has not learned how to defend themselves (like Jack’s mother) or because they take on the persona of the abuser and do the same to their offspring as was done to them. 

Not surprisingly Jack allowed his wife to dominate him. His sons voiced their concerns about his inability to stand up for himself.  Fortunately, his wife was loving with her children and was not abusive with them but the fact that they saw what was happening in the relationship might have been enough to cause them to develop dysfunctional relationships themselves. 

It took months for Jack to realise what he had suffered at his father’s hands and from his mother’s passivity and it took a crisis in his life for him to consider that he might have to do something to be able to engage with his feelings and express them. As I said earlier one of his most startling realisations was that he had ‘entitlements’. That he was entitled to have feelings and opinions and to be listened to and respected both as a child and as an adult. He was entitled to laugh, to be excited and to be himself without feeling guilty or bad about it. This came as a huge surprise to him, but it was also very liberating and helped him develop his emotional maturity. 

I know that parenting is an extraordinarily difficult job. It is very easy to make mistakes and nobody gives you a manual telling you how to do it. Washing machines come with a manual, as do other household appliances so that we can operate them without messing them up. Children do not come with a manual. Parenting often happens through trial and error. Jack’s parents are not ‘bad’ people. They wanted the very best for their children as most parents do. It is difficult however to convey to people that you are not judging their parents, simply pointing out their mistakes. This is vital if you are to let the child (subsequently adult) know that what they experienced was not healthy or acceptable. Unless this happens the child (adult) will think that they have done something wrong or are just inadequate or bad people. 

With his eyes now starting to open Jack began to see how critical, demanding and destructive his father was. His father was still alive and when Jack went to see him after several of our ‘conversations’. He began to put down boundaries around the way his father treated him. He also started to put boundaries around himself with other people – his wife included. He is a lovely and honourable man who was too lovely and passive for his own good. He is now beginning to love and honour himself. Not before time! His wife, by the way, came back! By developing his emotional maturity his life became immeasurably better. 

Developing Emotional Maturity Involves Being Honest With Yourself?

How much (if at all) do you identify with Kevin or Jack. It does not matter what gender you are. Please answer the following questions:

  • Do you always know how you are feeling?
  • Do you have firm and healthy boundaries? Can you ensure that people treat you with respect and are not dismissive or denigrating of you?
  • Do you spend your time being and doing what other people want you to do and be?
  • Do you ever think – What about me – who cares for me?
  • Can you give yourself permission to be angry?
  • Do you get overwhelmed by feelings of anger and lash out sometimes, either verbally or physically? 
  • Are you aware of beginning to feel angry and can you explore those feelings with yourself or with someone else? 
  • If you do begin to feel angry do you suppress the feeling by diverting yourself, rationalising it or telling yourself it is a ‘bad’ thing to feel? 
  • Do you find yourself over-empathising with people and trying to ‘rescue’ them or find solutions to their problems? 
  • Do you spend a lot of time trying to ‘fix’ people and neglecting to look after your own needs? 

Developing emotional maturity is not easy and is extremely difficult on your own. You could read books that help, such as my own book, which you can get for FREE here. But we think the most effective way to achieve emotional maturity is to engage in a course, which is purposely designed to help and support people towards their own emotional maturity. 


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