Let me guess?
You dream of getting noticed in your circles and climbing the social hierarchy.
Because, who doesn’t, right?
You want friends and acquaintances to trust you and depend on you for advice. You aspire to be someone whom they hang on to for every word.
In short, you want to know how to become emotionally mature.
You have emotionally mature role models in your life, and you have seen how they can make others feel comfortable in their skin.
You look up to them. But you feel you haven’t got a chance in hell to be like them.
The big question that hounds you – how?
And how indeed? That kind of connection and influence are elusive creatures.
Sure, you are popular enough in your close circle.
But it’s not like people in your wider social circles are in awe of you and are tripping over themselves to revel in your company.
You know that you’re not connecting – that your words don’t resonate deeply with others.
But you’ll be damned if you can figure out the magic formula.
Unless you can find a way to calm your inner turmoil, attain meaningful growth, and connect powerfully with others – you are doomed to remain in social obscurity.
But, all is not lost.
You can still learn to become emotionally mature, captivate and mesmerize your audience, even if you think that’s a magical trait, forever out of your reach.
Here’s what you need to do…
Add some Nuance and Compassion – for Yourself
As Roger K. Allen suggests, start with accepting responsibility.
Going through a rough patch?
Recognize, that at some level, you are responsible for your circumstances.
But remember that accepting responsibility doesn’t mean taking the blame.
Because blame insinuates intention. It was not your intention to screw up, was it?
But you accept that something went wrong because of an action you took or a decision you made. Now you take the responsibility to pull things back on track.
Comprehend this bit of nuance. It can mean the difference between paralysis from self-incrimination, and the vigor from personal power.
You cannot change others. But you can change yourself. Your views, your actions, or the words you use.
And you know what’s funny?
When you change yourself, it influences those around you to change.
Albert Ellis nails it the best:
“The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”
Practice that Clichéd M-Word Everyone Loves to Hate
You know the one I’m talking about.
How do you practice that?
Learn to identify your emotions and recognize how you feel.
As per Nick Wignall, Mindfulness and Cognitive Restructuring are the best way to build meta-cognition – the ability to think about your thinking.
Before you can learn how to be flexible in your thinking, you have to learn to be aware of your thought patterns.
Understand how these affect your mood:
- your diet
- your level of fitness
- your quality of sleep
- your energy levels
- your hydration
Become deeply aware of yourself and your idiosyncrasies.
Then you can observe how and why you react to certain things and discover your blind spots.
This is a vital step in uncovering your true self, and a core tenet of emotional maturity.
Build up Those Walls Around Your Safe Haven
Set healthy boundaries around you.
How do you do that?
State what is acceptable to you and what’s not. Then state the consequence.
Resist and hold fast, even if it feels uncomfortable or scary.
And that’s not all.
If someone still violates your boundaries, reinforce them. Follow through with the consequences you stated.
Do you think this is counter-productive? Will this push people away?
Believe me, this is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Your boundaries will only push away those whom you would rather not have in your life.
Don’t Trust Yourself – Sometimes
Have a healthy suspicion of your first impulses around certain topics.
Not convinced? Then here’s an interesting tidbit…
Neuroscientists tell us that we make 95 percent of our choices subconsciously. Our knee-jerk reactions come from ideas, conclusions, procedures, and rules we learned before we were 7 years old.
Does that sound scary to you?
If not, it should. It shows how not-in-control we really are.
So pause before you are about to make an emotional decision. Let go of your first knee-jerk response and ask yourself:
“Are there any other options, which might produce better results?”
An immediate solution may gratify you. But the best solutions come when you delay the need to get rid of the problem quickly.
Stew in your juices for a while. You’ll be fine, I promise.
Want to weave in some more safety padding?
Take a minute, an hour, or even a day if you need it. Mull over your options. Put them on paper and think through each one of them.
What will each one of them create?
Is that what I really want?
Practice reacting based on your values and principles, not on your emotions. Sometimes, choose to not go along with your feelings.
Observe others with curiosity instead of reacting, even when you dislike their behavior.
This restraint will make you irresistible.
Borrow Other’s Shoes
Then walk a mile in them.
Miffed by someone’s behavior?
Maybe it’s not about you? Maybe they are just having a bad day? Maybe it’s fear and desperation that’s driving them towards the extreme behavior?
So before taking offense, try to think from the other person’s perspective. Feel more empathy and concern for them.
The trick is to figure out what they are afraid of. Then find out what they need to feel safe.
As Kim Giles suggests, give reassurance or validation first to quiet their fears. The rest of the interaction will fall in place.
It all boils down to this…
Work on being less judgmental. Stop imagining others as either a monster or a fool.
Display this kind of openness, and see others open up around you.
Trust me – Your Ego will Survive that Apology
Apologies are hard. Spitting out one feels difficult.
But it need not be.
Giving an apology doesn’t mean you are admitting a flaw in your character. You’ll not be irrevocably tarnished in the mind of the person in front of you.
An apology is a way to acknowledge the other persons’ hurt and your role in their pain.
Nothing less. Nothing more.
So recognize when you screwed up and be quick to apologize. Be real, authentic, and vulnerable.
You will be fine – I promise you. You are not a fragile, delicate rosebud.
But there’s a catch…
Don’t fixate on belaboring your own mistake and throw a self-damnation party.
Note the mistake, determine to improve your decision next time, and be kind to yourself about your failings.
Don’t try to look perfect – it pushes people away from you.
People want to know you’re flawed and genuine — they feel safer with you if you are.
“It’s far easier to get defensive and deny responsibility, or become overwhelmed with shame for our act of imperfection or ignorance. Being able to acknowledge when we’re in the wrong takes humility, self-compassion and courage.”
— Megan Bruneau
Do a Reality Check on Your Expectations
Let go of your need to be right and practice agreeing to disagree.
You don’t always need to have the last word.
Let go of perfection and settle for good enough. Because, your expectations, when not fulfilled, give you the most grief.
So, calibrate them.
How to do that?
Understand that the patterns from your past will not always serve you. Take in the new lessons, be flexible, and adapt.
Trust that whatever experience the universe brings you, it will serve you in some way.
When you show this kind of resourcefulness and resilience in emergencies, others will learn to trust and depend on you.
Hi Disappointment! I’m Grace
Life is going to disappoint you – a lot. Get used to it.
Have faith. Even when things go wrong, you will survive. You have been doing that so far, haven’t you?
Not everything will go your way. There will always be setbacks and major disappointments.
You are allowed to get upset when that happens. But you are not allowed to revel in it.
Why is that?
Because, as Sherrie Campbell says, the world will not change in its axis to make you happier. You have to make that change happen within yourself.
So express your feelings, identify the actions you can take, and move on. Introduce your disappointment to your grace.
Even if there is a setback, be optimistic. It’s not the end of the world. Opportunities still exist out there.
Seek them out.
And can I let you in a secret?
People pine for this kind of response to adversity. They wish they could be graceful like that.
But they can’t.
So they clamor around someone who can.
Swallow Bitter Words Better
Do you feel anxious while you reach for feedback?
I know what you’re thinking – “I would rather curl up and die.”
But reach out on a limb anyway.
Commit to know your bitter truths and work on them. Even if they feel hurtful and stressful at first.
Because that’s not permanent. That would go away.
But do you know what’s permanent?
The damage caused to your work and your reputation, if you choose to remain ignorant and stay within your bubble.
And when someone gives you constructive criticism without asking?
Treasure them and the feedback.
As Alain De Botton says, never assume that the other person is mistaken, or trying to humiliate you. Don’t don your armor and deny the problem either.
Trust in yourself, that through this criticism, you will emerge stronger and better. You will survive through this.
But don’t just stop there…
Don’t be shy when telling the truth about others as well. Learn ways to soften the blow and make the feedback impersonal.
People cherish someone with whom such difficult conversations are possible. Because this kind of openness leads to growth on both sides.
Gratitude, I Choose You!
When you start incorporating these practices of emotional maturity, you will slowly build up a bounty of joy and happiness within.
Turn that happiness into sharing and generosity.
There will tons of things to complain about. But there will always be even more to be grateful for.
Receive, but also give. Not bound by any expectation of returns, but for its own sake.
As per Franz Alexander, Emotional maturity is surplus energy. When you have nurtured yourself to that point, you will have energy that can no longer be used for growth.
That surplus energy will manifest as generosity — like a tree bearing fruit once it’s grown.
As Dr. Leon Saul emphasizes in his book on maturity, emotionally mature people don’t see giving as an obligation or duty. They give, produce, and spend their energy with pleasure for others – turning their happiness into sharing and generosity.
So offer helpful services to others as a way to spread your own wealth and joy.
It will circle back.
When it does, you will experience even deeper levels of pleasure, personal satisfaction, and gratitude.
Your true generosity will charm the socks off of others.
How awesome is that?
Do You Want to Thrive or Just Barely Survive?
You don’t have to settle for being someone who’s met with modest enthusiasm and lukewarm engagement.
Emotional maturity is not a magical trait. It’s for everyone.
It’s difficult to obtain, but it can be learned.
But you were not expecting an easy fix and some empty platitudes, were you?
You know this is going to be difficult.
But now you also know the rewards that await behind the toil.
Emotional maturity allows you to be in control of yourself, grow, and connect with others in a meaningful way.
So start being compassionate with yourself and the others. Know and protect yourself first.
Then empathize and connect with others. Inspire them with your resilience and commitment to growth.
At first, it will be awkward. But stay on course while practicing and learning.
And soon you’ll see that you have started to gain influence and trust amongst your peers.
Just like your role models.
Your friends and acquaintances will depend on you for comfort and advice. They will hang on to your every word.
That is the only meaningful way of gaining true influence and status.
So go incorporate these practices in your life.
Your wildly influential stature awaits.