Did you ever wonder what characterizes a psychologically mature person? I’ve thought about it a lot – both on my own personal inner journey of awakening and because I work as a therapist and coach on a daily basis, helping other people with their issues.
Here are some of the things I’ve discovered.
First of all, as you start to become more mature psychologically, you realize that most people are so psychologically immature that in reality they are like four-year-old kids running around in adult bodies. This is not an accusation or a criticism, but rather a description of how things are.
Most of us are actually quite psychologically immature and confused about a lot of things – that’s just the way things are. And as a result, we often perceive life as being difficult and we may experience a great deal of unhappiness.
As We Mature Psychologically, Life Becomes Easier
As we become more psychologically mature – one of the first things we notice is that life is no longer such a struggle. In fact, as we mature psychologically, life becomes easier and a much more interesting adventure (regardless of outer circumstances and what’s going on) – and we experience much more happiness.
So what characterizes a more psychologically mature person? First of all, when a person becomes a more mature adult, he or she has a much more realistic assessment of the human condition than people who are psychologically immature. Here are some of the other characteristics of a more psychologically mature adult.
When you are more psychologically mature:
* You understand that life is challenging (for everyone)
* You realize that no one (including yourself) is perfect
* You understand that making so-called “mistakes” is part of the human condition and in fact the way we learn
* You understand that things aren’t so black and white
* You don’t generalize
* You don’t catastrophize
* You’re no longer a drama queen
* You have a more easy-going attitude to life and its challenges
* You stop basing your decisions and actions on assumptions but are able to do reality testing first
* You don’t go to extremes but prefer the middle way
* You’re not so judgemental because you realize that you can’t possibly know what’s best for other people (or even for yourself)
* You don’t blame other people for your problems
* You take responsibility for yourself and what’s going on in your life
* You have the ability to look at yourself more realistically and assess your strengths and weaknesses more realistically
* You can say “I don’t know” or “I’m sorry” without losing face
* You have a healthy sense of self-esteem
* You’re grateful for all the good in your life
* You’re pretty happy most of the time
The Difference Between Reality and Our Thinking
If you want to change your life for the better and make it a more joyful experience, it’s vitally important to understand that there is a difference between reality and our thinking. This is a key, basic concept when it comes to radical inner transformation.
Now what do I mean by the difference between reality and our thinking? When we look carefully at the nature of our experience, we discover that there is a difference between what is happening in each and every moment and our interpretation or reaction to what is happening. In other words, what happens and what you or I think about what happens are two very different things.
Let’s take some examples:
Two people get divorced: Now what does this mean? The reality is a divorce is when two people who were together separate. That’s a divorce. But getting divorced can and does mean different things to different people. For one person, a divorce can feel like a tragedy, like the end of the world, so this person may become deeply depressed. For another person, a divorce is a celebration, a liberation, because now this person is finally free from having to deal with a relationship that wasn’t working, so this person is happy, joyful. In both cases, the event was the same – two people who were together are no longer together.
Your boss asks you to head a task force to deal with a challenging situation at your workplace: Now what does this mean? The reality is that this is a work assignment. But again, getting an assignment like this can and does mean different things to different people. For one person, the assignment will seem overwhelming and the person will experience a lot of stress. For another person, the assignment will feel like a great honor and challenge and the person will experience renewed energy and joy at work. In both cases the event was the same – a work assignment.
Your children are grown-up and move away from home: Now what does this mean? The reality is children who once lived at home now no longer live at home. They aren’t there anymore. But this again can and does mean different things to different people. So again it depends. One person will experience their children moving away from home as a great loss and feel a sense of emptiness in their life. So for many, this can be a time of real crisis and soul-searching. While others may enjoy their newfound freedom and having more time to focus on the things they never found time for when the children lived at home. But again, the event was the same – the children are no longer living with their parents.
How We Interpret Events
In all the examples above, there is an event – in other words something happens – and then, as we have seen, different people have different ideas about what these events mean for them. And it is always our interpretations of events that determine our experience and how we get to live. So if you think divorce is terrible, that’s what you experience. If you think divorce is a true liberation, then that’s your experience.
And the same goes for the new assignment at work. If you think it’s more than you can handle, you’ll experience stress and if you are delighted at being given the challenge, you’ll experience renewed energy. And so on…
The important point to understand here is that in and of themselves, the various events have no meaning. They are just the things that happen in life. But we give them meaning by the way we interpret them. And this is true of everything that is happening in our lives. Everything.
Understanding this, understanding that events in and of themselves have no inherent value, is a key concept and the pathway to increased freedom and joy in our lives. Because when we see and understand this, we realize that there are indeed many different ways to view and relate to the events that are unfolding in our lives. This realization gives us the freedom and the possibility of looking at our thinking and our responses in new ways – and it can help us learn that we can take control of our reactions to events.
So with this understanding, we are no longer the innocent and unconscious victims of our own thinking. And this is good news indeed!
©Barbara Berger. All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life
by Barbara Berger.
About the Author
Barbara Berger has written over 15 self-empowerment books, including the international bestseller "The Road to Power / Fast Food for the Soul" (published in 30 languages), "Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life" (more than 20 languages) and “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind”. American-born, Barbara now lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to her books, she offers private coaching sessions to individuals who wish to work intensely with her (in her office in Copenhagen or on Skype and telephone for people who live far away from Copenhagen). For more about Barbara Berger, see her Web site: www.beamteam.com