How do you know if you are dealing with an emotionally immature person? Here are a few things to look for:
- He (or she) has little self-awareness and fails to consider how his behavior affects others.
- People are there to meet his needs, and he expects others to see things from his point of view.
- He (or she) wants what he wants NOW and with little effort.
- He (or she) often has a victim mentality, blaming others for everything that goes wrong.
- He often resorts to bullying, harassing, and manipulating others.
- He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.
- She has few friendships because she either cuts people off OR runs them off with her moody, selfish behavior.
Emotionally immature people are exhausting and hard to handle. So what do we do? And how do we make sure WE are not torturing others with selfish, childish behavior?
Healthy Boundaries and Other Signs of a Mature Person
Maturity is not about being serious all the time. There are many playful, mature people out there. So how do we define maturity? It’s taking responsibility for ourselves. It’s about owning our choices and how we live our lives.
An important part of taking responsibility for ourselves relates to setting healthy boundaries. A boundary is not about controlling, fixing, punishing, or manipulating others. The person with healthy boundaries relates to others in a way that is not enabling but also not indifferent and cut off.
Behavior is driven by consequences. We do MORE of what we find rewarding and LESS of what has unpleasant consequences. If an emotionally immature person bullies me into doing something I don’t want to do and I give in and do it, I have just reinforces his poor behavior.
Think of the mom with the screaming toddler in the candy aisle at the store. If she gives him the Skittles he is so loudly demanding, he is even MORE likely to pitch a fit the next time they are in the candy aisle. Can’t we all relate to her embarrassment, frustration, and exhaustion? “OK, fine, just this once…” In caving to his unreasonable demands, mom is enabling his poor behavior.
According to Drs. Cloud and Townsend, in Boundaries, each of us is responsible for our own feelings, attitudes, behaviors, reactions, choices, values, limits, etc. no matter what people around us are doing. In practical terms, this means…we are not at the mercy of others. We have options and choices, even though we may be confused about what those are.
Have you ever heard anyone say,”He made me so mad…so I HAD to….” Do you see the boundary problems in that statement? Nobody MAKES us anything. We tell ourselves things about what is happening and CHOOSE to respond in a particular way.
An inherent law of the universe-and a scriptural principle-is we reap what we sow. Consequences are often our best teacher. Each person is responsible for his or her own choices and the mature person owns or accepts the consequences of those choices. What does an emotionally mature person look like?
- He takes responsibility for his life, choices, emotions, and behavior.
- She is not controlled by her moods or compulsions.
- He is not controlling or easily controlled.
- She accepts life for what it is, not what she wishes it would be, working for healthy change.
- He accepts that people are who they are, not who he wishes they were. He respects their right to their own perspective and doesn’t try to control or bully them into agreement.
- She is emotionally independent. Her moods are not driven by others’ behavior.
- He accepts that he doesn’t always get what he wants and he can let go.
Maybe a good long look in the mirror is in order. Is it time to grow up? __________________________________