10 Qualities of an Emotionally Mature Person
Rabbi Dov Heller, LMFT
An emotionally mature person has ten characteristics. It’s worth taking a look at each of them in order to understand and see where we can improve. Refining these qualities will enhance our personal and professional relationships, as well as improve our menuchas hanefesh.
1. They acknowledge and take full ownership of uncomfortable feelings.
Throughout our lives we experience a range of uncomfortable and sometimes unwanted feelings. We always have a choice. We can acknowledge and take ownership of them or try to ignore and get rid of them. Unfortunately, the latter option only leads to more emotional pain and to more complicated psychological problems such as depression. As physical pain indicates something is wrong with the body, emotional pain indicates that something is wrong with the soul.
2. They are curious about the meaning of their feelings rather than being afraid of them.
Feelings are information and have unique personalized meanings. They are our teachers. The path to self-discovery and greater self-knowledge lies in unlocking the lessons embedded in our feelings and being able to listen to the messages they have to teach us.
3. They can tolerate the discomfort of intense emotional states.
Some feeling states like anger, sadness, loneliness, guilt, shame, anxiety, and emptiness can be difficult and unbearable. Affect tolerance is the ability to bear this type of discomfort. People who cannot tolerate intense emotion look for ways to numb themselves to get rid of the pain. This may bring some immediate relief but often results in long term suffering.
4. They process their feelings in order to learn and grow from them.
There are three steps to processing our feelings:
- Acknowledge and name the feeling. We cannot explore a feeling until we properly name it.
- Understand the unique personal meaning of this feeling in its present and historical context.
- Use this information to make decisions that will elevate one’s self, others, and the world.
5. They know their vulnerabilities and triggers.
Many people tend to have specific areas that make them vulnerable to hyper-reactivity and to being out of control. When we become flooded with emotions we cannot think clearly and make good decisions. Being aware of one’s triggers is one of the most important aspects of self-knowledge.
6. They assertively express their needs.
Taking care of our emotional needs is a crucial aspect of good self-care. People who are passive or are people-pleasers suffer. Because they often believe their needs don’t matter, they emotionally starve while they hope others will somehow figure out what they need without them needing to ask.
7. They accept themselves and are patient with themselves.
Self-acceptance is the foundation of good self-esteem. People who don’t accept themselves tend to beat themselves up which is accompanied with shame. Shame is the emotional experience underlying low self-esteem. When we identify something we don’t like about ourselves, we have three options: feel shame and judge ourselves as defective, accept our weaknesses as part of being a limited and imperfect human being, or make changes to improve ourselves.
8. They do not isolate when struggling.
Emotionally mature people reach out for help when they feel stuck or overwhelmed by life’s challenges. They are not ashamed to ask for help and receive help. They accept their limitations and don’t suffer alone with their problems.
9. They are not afraid to be open and vulnerable.
Being emotionally open and vulnerable is the way we connect deeply with other people. Being vulnerable means taking a risk to reveal personal and sensitive aspects about ourselves. Letting others “see” us is an essential way to bond deeply.
10. They value, honor, respect, and listen to the feelings of others.
Emotionally mature people are attuned to other people’s feelings. They listen because they understand that one of the greatest acts of kindness is listening to someone else’s pain. When we value someone’s feelings, we are at the same time valuing their personhood. When we dismiss their feelings, we dismiss them. Emotional attunement empowers and strengthens. Non-attunement disempowers and weakens.