I watched a video by The School of Life about Emotional Maturity this week. The video presented something I know but forget so quickly.
While people mature physically at generally the same rate, over time, they do not grow at the same rate emotionally. Someone in their 40s, like me, can have the emotional maturity of an eight-year-old, while a young adult can have the emotional maturity of an old sage. I always assumed that I’d get to this age and have it figured out. I also thought that others in my stage or older would be equally emotionally versed.
Much of my frustration these days comes from the fact that I expected to have things figured out by now and that I’d be in a world where others had it figured out. That’s not the way it works. The School of Life’s video broke emotional maturity into two parts that gave me a helpful vocabulary for examining my growth and understanding others: connection and self-expression. People need connection with others, and emotional development is stunted when it doesn’t happen or when those connections are not fulfilling (or are downright harmful). People must also express themselves: through their work, craft, sports, whatever. Our identities want to be known, shared, and valued. We want to do work we feel is meaningful. We need to have others appreciate our uniqueness. Again, when this doesn’t happen, growth is harmed.
It was incredibly insightful that the “growth is stunted or harmed” state can manifest as a condition like depression and other severe sufferings. I’ve seen this in myself and suspect others are experiencing it too.
So, connection and self-expression. ‘Reminds me of Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan). The takeaway? People have feelings and emotional needs. We can’t turn them off. Dealing with them is no easy task. But, with a vocabulary to help us understand what is happening inside, we’re better equipped to express our needs and know what our brains are up to.