Most people go to counseling to improve their relationships, which should come as no surprise. After all, it is the quality of our relationships that determines the quality of our life.
To live a meaningful life, we must pay attention to challenges that develop in all of our interactions. Settling boundaries is a common source of family conflict. Unmet expectations are a common cause of marital troubles. Workplace issues are frequently linked to difficult encounters with coworkers. Single people frequently disclose a history of failed relationships due to a lack of ability to set boundaries and explain their needs. Whatever the difficulty, one of the recurring motifs is that throughout history.
These three characteristics are shared by emotionally mature people:
- People who are emotionally mature accept full responsibility for their feelings, reactions, and lives.
- Emotionally mature people can empathise with themselves and others at the same time.
- People who are emotionally mature speak up and tell the truth, even when it is difficult.
I’m not going to lie: being emotionally mature can be difficult at times. Even when we are overwhelmed by emotions, emotional maturity requires us to control our reactions. Emotional maturity necessitates that we concentrate all of our energies on what we can control rather than what is now beyond our control. And emotional development requires us to set our fears of taking complete control of our life aside and make difficult, often painful decisions.
When I talk about controlling emotions, clients often assume I’m telling them to remove all emotion from their reactions, speak in an affectless tone, and act like a Stepford wife. This isn’t what I’m talking about. In reality, expressing emotion in challenging talks is essential for being heard and transmitting the full effect of your experience, as well as giving you leverage to change the current quo.
We’ve undoubtedly all had the experience of patiently repeating a request only to have things change when we cry, raise our voice, or otherwise react strongly. This is OK within limits and, in fact, necessary for becoming challenging.
When emotions spin out of control, it’s usually because we feel powerless and hurt, and we don’t believe meaningful change can happen unless we try to make the other side suffer as much as we do. Emotional dysregulation occurs when a person’s reactions do not match the circumstances and appear to be out of control. The two most typical manifestations of emotional dysregulation that I witness in my clinic are wrath and collapse.
When more delicate emotions are repressed and unspoken for, both wrath and breakdown occur.
When one believes that the only way to better a situation is to gain control of it, and the only way to get control is to scare the other person into submission, fury ensues. It’s an attempt to use force to convey the depth of your feelings. Because it is difficult to “rage up,” wrath is often directed at those in lower positions.
Many of us can recall bosses venting their rage on workers or a poor waiter getting chastised by a customer.
Anger is a helpful emotion. It motivates us to speak up for ourselves and others, as well as to effect change. It has the potential to lead us to something better than what we now have. Rage, on the other hand, is a kind of abuse.
Being able to communicate “for” your sentiments rather than “from” your feelings is a crucial ability to ineffective communication.
Consider putting on a pair of glasses. You see the world through that lens while they’re on your face. It’s possible that you’ll forget you’re wearing them. Through that lens, everything you see is filtered. It is possible to describe the spectacles if you remove them and examine them in front of you. When you’re gazing through them, you can admit that you see things differently.
When you speak from your heart, you’re more likely to use accusatory, all-or-nothing language, and you’re putting the blame for your feelings on the other person. It may feel nice to let off steam, but it leaves you helpless and the other person on the defensive. Speaking up for your feelings, on the other hand, gives the other person just enough room to consider your needs without feeling attacked. It’s a lot easier to accept “I’m so sad,” rather than “You’re running my life!”