“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
When I am coaching a client, often one of the most profound leaps they make is recognizing the personal power that accompanies adult decisions, outlooks, and behaviors. Sometimes a person is so entrenched in reactive behaviors, old hurts, and learned perceptions that they don’t realize they are trapped in a stage of childhood that limits their personal growth and relationships.
Much has been made of the concept of embracing one’s inner child. In this context, I’m referring to the therapeutic work (usually offered by mental health professionals) to help clients heal the emotional wounds and coping mechanisms that arise from adverse childhood experiences.
This work includes helping people face and heal unresolved grief and unmet needs from childhood. Often this grief takes the form of depression, controlling behaviors, anger, intimacy problems, and poor communication skills. Facing and healing these hurts is critical to becoming a fully-functioning, healthy adult.
Another big step toward becoming whole and healthy is embracing your inner adult.
Sometimes we don’t even recognize the grown-ups we are supposed to be because we either have either missed a stage in emotional development or we simply didn’t have appropriate role models or support systems.
Consistent relationship difficulties often reveal that one’s inner adult is begging to be released.
These difficulties would include intimate relationships, as well as relationships with friends, co-workers, and family members. If a running theme of complaints has developed over the years about your behaviors, reactions, or decisions, it is a big clue that you need to look realistically at yourself and make some changes. Everyone needs to regularly take the pulse of their inner adult to make sure he or she is alive and well.
An emotionally mature person continues throughout life to work on developing attitudes and behaviors in relation to himself and his/her environment which lift him past childishness and dependency. Your inner adult is a person who is authentic, open, and willing to grow, learn, and accept his or her own flaws and mistakes.
Here are some of the characteristics of an emotionally mature adult:
1. Accepts criticism gracefully, being appreciative for an opportunity to improve.
2. Does not indulge in self-pity and has begun to feel the laws of compensation operating in all life.
3. Does not expect special consideration from anyone or have a self-inflated sense of entitlement.
4. Controls his/her temper but can express anger or frustration in healthy ways.
5. Meets emergencies with calm and poise.
6. Is not easily hurt or wounded by others.
7. Accepts the responsibility of his or her own actions without making excuses or blaming others.
8. Has outgrown the “all or nothing” stage, and recognizes that no person or situation is wholly good or wholly bad.
9. Is not impatient at reasonable delays, and has learned that he/she is not the center of the universe and must often adjust to other people and their convenience.
10. Acts as a good sport and a good loser. Can endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining.
11. Does not worry about things he cannot help.
12. Is not given to boasting or “showing off” in socially unacceptable ways.
13. Is honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune, and has outgrown envy and jealousy.
14. Is open-minded enough to listen thoughtfully to the opinions of others.
15. Is not a chronic “fault-finder” or complainer.
16. Plans things in advance rather than trusting to the inspiration of the moment or leaving things for others to handle.
17. Shows kindness, patience and good manners, especially with those who are less capable, sophisticated or mature.
18. Has a set of guiding principles, beliefs or values that create the framework for decisions and actions.
19. Is more solution-oriented rather than needing to be right.
20. Feels comfortable with a wide variety of people and situations.
21. Has the ability to experience and understand one’s own deepest feelings and needs, and is able to act on and express these feelings and needs in appropriate and constructive ways.
22. Has the ability to act on and react to life circumstances with intelligence, sound judgment and wisdom.
23. Has the ability to recognize, empathize with, and respect the feelings and needs of others.
24. Can love unconditionally – to allow another person’s needs, feelings, security, and survival to be absolutely paramount – just as if these were our own.
25. Is able to adapt flexibly and creatively to life’s changing circumstances and conditions.
26. Can channel energy, both positive and negative, into constructive contributions to one’s self, to others, and to the community.
27. Can relate comfortably and freely with others, to like and be liked by others, and to maintain healthy and mutually satisfying relationships. The ability to choose and develop relationships that are healthy and nurturing, and to end or limit relationships that are not.
28. Does not indulge in destructive habits or behaviors.
If you are interested in reading more about how to embrace your inner adult and building better relationships, here is some additional reading that might interest you:
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