I was asked a great question recently. . . How do you know what is “mature”? Clearly, if you are coming to counseling or reading self-help articles and blogs online, something wasn’t completely mature in your household growing up. By definition, mature essentially means ‘fully developed’. So here is what I believe mature looks like. . .
Patience – Ability to delay gratification. Can wait for what they want or need without anxiety, complaint, or irritation.
Self-Control – Ability to get themselves through periods of strong impulsive feelings or reactions (anger, lust, vengeance, greed, selfishness, control, judgment, pride, or any kind of addictive excess) and refrain from losing control.
Kindness – Ability to consider the needs of others and to put others before yourself and even receive joy from doing so.
Discernment – Ability to determine the right thing to do . . . at some point we’ve got to be able to judge for ourselves what is the right thing to do. This involves being able to understand the different options from multiple vantage points (want vs. need, how will it make others feel, how will I feel about myself, etc.) and requires some creativity to see more than just 2 options.
Humility – Ability to put others before themselves. Ability to not let it always be about them.
Repentant – Deep regret and open admission of wrong-doings coupled with a determined change of behavior. Makes amends with a sincere heart. Continues to have a repentant heart long after forgiveness has been given.
Insightful – Ability to understand themselves from multiple vantage points. Can see past the prominent emotion and see truths about themselves on a deeper level.
Wisdom – Ability to learn from past mistakes. Rather than making the same mistake repeatedly, they become an avid student of themselves, learns what drives their behavior and forges a path to new, healthier behaviors. Experience builds on itself over time creating a base of knowledge to draw from.
Empathetic – Ability to reasonably predict and have compassion for how others might feel. Having a tenderness for those in need and a willingness to help or nurture.
Courageous – Ability to stand strong in the face of harsh reactions and stay the course toward a healthy goal. Does what is right even when facing opposition. (to know what is “right”, see Wisdom or Discernment)
Self-Aware – In touch with both their strengths and their weaknesses. In touch with their needs and can advocate to get their needs met. Knows their limits – can read their own emotions early enough to change the course of undesired behaviors.
Trustworthy – Follows through on promises to themselves and others. Others can depend on them to keep their word. Refrains from making grandiose promises or committing to unrealistic deadlines.
Even-tempered – Has a calm countenance. Is not easily provoked or angered. Does not operate in extremes (rage, cut-off, urgency, etc.)
Considerate – Ability to respect boundaries of others and take their needs into account. Able to foresee how their behavior might impact others.
Cooperative – Ability to have a spirit of cooperation when working with others (Are you a gateway or a roadblock?).
How well developed are you in each of these areas? I have to admit, I am not fully developed in all of these areas myself! Knowing what maturity looks like and being mature are two different things. As long as we are progressing towards our goal, however, we are developing maturity!