Don’t quite understand

Have you ever experienced that you don’t quite understand your own reactions and emotions? And maybe wished you had behaved differently? Do you often feel like escaping from difficult situations or people sometimes? Is it difficult to get rid of toxic thoughts? Do you feel often that you are losing opportunities or that you just seem to have bad luck? If your answer is yes to some of these questions, you have the potential to increase your opportunities in life and get better results. I am talking about that extra power, the power to influence your life and find more and better ways to handle challenges – when they show up.  We all have the ability to work on our emotions. 

Emotional maturity is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

When you are faced with a difficult situation, your level of emotional maturity is one of the biggest factors in determining your ability to cope. Because feelings never were supposed to be rational, we tend to live with them without trying to find out why they occur. If you don’t work with them, they can block your communication skills and prevent you from reaching your potential and goals.

Emotions or feelings are our subjective response to what we experience and how we react to other people. These feelings affect our behavior and sometimes we are totally unconscious about it. We have primary feelings like joy, sadness, agitation, anger and fear, and we have secondary feelings such as shame, guilt and envy. We call them secondary feelings because we learn them through socialization.

What do you do with emotional response?

When you find yourself in a disagreement with another person, it is natural to feel some sort of emotional response—particularly a negative one. There is nothing wrong with having that emotional response, but what you do with it afterward makes all the difference in the world. Think about the response you are having. Is it sadness? Is it anger? Is it disrespect? Then focus on what could be causing that response. Was it an attack? Was it incorrect? Don’t just express the emotion; acknowledge why the emotion is there. You can identify an emotion and respond to it rather than react. Don’t deny them, and don’t try to mask them as something else. Use your intuition to spot the problem. What is it within you that you are not conscious about? Do you have trouble setting boundaries? Are you aware of your values? You might have some fierce disagreements, but you cannot control others, you can only control how you interact with them. Emotional maturity is the ability to handle situations without unnecessarily escalating them.

You have to be willing to tolerate feelings of discomfort long enough to find solutions to your problems. An immediate solution may represent gratification to many, but emotional maturity means to know that the best solutions come with delaying the need to get rid of the problem quickly. The most lucrative solutions are found in the process of thinking through the problem and use your intuition to make the right choice – the one that is right for you.

Emotional maturity is a skill you have to learn and practice.

If it’s not a skill your partner ever learned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is doomed. It is likely, though, that you’re in for some drama. That is because some people don’t have a strong grasp of their own feelings, and lack the coping skills to deal with emotions they don’t always understand.

“Those things that hurt, instruct”
Benjamin Franklin

If you have trouble understanding your feelings, it may have something to do with your psychological defense mechanisms. It’s human to avoid disappointments due to unsatisfied wishes and needs. Psychological defense mechanisms protect you against the feeling of inferiority, powerlessness and worthlessness which could be the root of your feelings. They can occur unconsciously to protect you from the pain. They can come out as idealization or devaluation. If you idealize you are making things nicer than they really are. If you devalue you make things more negative than they really are. If you for instance were betrayed by grownups in your childhood and want to protect yourself from that experience or feeling in adulthood, your response could be “I don’t need any support from anyone. They have anyway nothing to offer me».

Emotional maturity does not evolve overnight. It takes effort, practice and patience. Here are some suggestions on how to start:

Reality bites

Life is going to be full of challenges and you have to accept this fact. You have to learn how to handle difficulties without expecting it to be any different. This means that everything in life will not be going your way, show up in the way you thought it would and nor will the world change on its axis to make you happier. I am talking about acceptance, it is as IT IS. If somebody hurts you, they do, and it is real. It exists independently of your opinions about it. If you resist it you will experience pain and frustration. Denying, avoiding, complaining, or refusing to think about uncomfortable realities gives those things incredible power over your life. When you accept it, you can use your energy to communicate, make choices and find some options. Any change has to come from within yourself and it is painful, but it will make you do something about it.

Stop hiding

Be honest about your own feelings and comfortable with your real feelings. Do you have the ability to release your emotions – good and bad? Show your true colors to others. Flush blame or excuses out of your life. When things go wrong ask yourself: Did I do anything to create this problem? What can I learn from my mistake? What is the best way to resolve this setback? Don’t become a prisoner of fear. Each day do something to step out of your comfort zone. Choose growth over fear, and remember that your success and happiness are more important than fear, so do what you want to do but are afraid of. Start out with baby steps and work your way up until you achieve superhero status! Hope is the only feeling that is stronger than fear. Be assertive and stand up for yourself. Don’t become a doormat, allowing others to manipulate you. Rather, set boundaries of acceptable behavior. Be assertive, but not aggressive. You can defend yourself and remain gentle at the same time. When people don’t learn emotional coping skills, they generally lose most interactions with their internal adversary, internal critic, and negative self-talk or hyperactive conscience. Therefore, people’s fears of emotional honesty are based on past ego pain from being internally judged as worse than, lower than, or inferior to others.

Neutral to criticism

Live by this Buddhist saying “Not flattered by praise, not hurt by blame”. That is, don’t let the praise you receive from others go to your head and don’t take the criticism you receive personally. Be aware of your personality and your strong and weak sides so you don’t blow up by criticism. When you disagree with people, you do not feel the need to criticize them. Instead you respect their right to have their own beliefs. Judging others is pointless. Including judging yourself. My opinion is just one way of looking at things. Everybody is entitled to their own view. Nobody is obliged to listen to you and they are entitled to disagree. Even if you can prove you are right, people have the right to be wrong. You don’t always have to offer your view. Nobody can accurately judge one action or opinion. You just don’t know enough about anyone to accurately judge them.

Start practicing

Understand that you have formidable inner resources that are sufficient to tackle every problem that appears in your life. But as soon as we come face to face with difficulty, many of us grow fearful, feel like a victim, and grow hopeless. Set those negative thoughts aside and release your inner resources.

How do we release them? By making a commitment to inner peace. You will find the strength to succeed when you start digging into your past and stay present in the pain until you find the true answers.

Say to yourself: “I don’t care how difficult this situation is, I will overcome it! I can do something and I can make choices”.

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