Maturity is often associated with age: the older you are, the more mature you will be. That truly is such a myth! But what then is maturity, when do we obtain it and why is it important?
The following definition puts it well into place: “Maturity is the ability to respond to the environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act, according to the circumstances and the culture of the society one lives in.“[ref.]
Maturity predicts responsibility and enables us to interact with people. It broadens our awareness to the information someone else’s background, culture, worldview and understanding provides. Maturity (or lack thereof) is seen in many aspects of our behaviour. Especially when it comes to relationships, its lack can cause a lot of conflict, strife, sorrow, and ultimately, breakups. Things that can be avoided if we spend time maturing beforehand. It is like applying for a job. If you did not spend time learning more of the subject at hand and acquiring certain skills to succeed, you would not apply. The same principle pertains to maturity.
The most obvious type of maturity we gain with age is physical maturity. Our body then reaches its complete development with the full formation of our sexual organs and secondary characteristics. However, this does not include the other types of maturity that are more important, e.g. mental maturity. This type is not formed automatically. As per the above definition, it has to be learned.
One of the biggest hindrances to mental maturity is our ego. It is part of our mental or psychological development. To properly understand its hindering factor, we need to understand what ego is.
What is ego?
Simply put, ego is one’s pride about oneself. Ego emphasizes the awareness of and attention to self. However, most of the time, these things are buried in our unconscious mind which makes them difficult to spot; or rather, we spot the ego in crucial moments, when certain “buttons” are pushed.
It is important to note that ego is present in every human being. We all have an ego, and we should have one. Pride about ourself supplies strength, self-assurance, self-reliance, self-sufficiency and self-belief, which we derive from our ego. These aspects of our self are crucial for our survival, our interaction with others, as well as the achievement of our goals. However, ego becomes complicated when it causes us to become obstinate and talk down to people.
Have you ever been in a relationship where an argument produced statements such as “What about what I think?” “So what I feel does not count?” “You never listen to me!” “You only think about yourself.” No matter if you have been the recipient or the author of them, these statements are all products of our ego.
Here are 5 ways to tell if your ego is not under your control:
#1 You hold grudges/have hidden resentments against those who hurt you
#2 You compare certain actions of a person towards you with others who may have responded differently, or more to your liking (e.g. “My family/ex/colleague never treated me like that”)
#3 You want your partner to agree with you in everything or you prefer if they think in a certain way
#4 You are easily offended when someone criticizes you, especially your love interest or partner
#5 You believe your partner should listen to you and do what you say, if they truly loved or cared about you
There are more signs that expose a problem with ego, and the above are guiding observations one can make to start off. Note that victimizing oneself is also a form of ego – because we are used to approval, appraisal and are sensitive to negative feedback.
We should be able to control our ego, because we are in charge of ourselves and our lives. We should never let anyone or anything control us. Ultimately, it does not even matter if we openly showcase our ego or not, because it will come out in one way or the other. The way we are in the inside will be revealed in the way we respond to life’s circumstances, including to other people’s behaviour towards us, no matter if they are close to us or strangers.
It therefore is a wise person’s attitude to observe their potential love interest when it comes to matters of self. Their response will tell you if they are driven by principles or their own interests. Otherwise, in what way does it serve you to be with someone who only has their own interest at heart? You would only be exposing yourself to a parasite.
We must all be able to properly judge ourselves, examine our personalities and decide if we truly are mature enough for a relationship. This is so important because our ego affects other people, not just ourselves. This is why interaction with others and teamwork is so important. We should be able to work and live with people. We learn to do that consciously, every day – it does not happen automatically. Many relationships have ended due to ego. We shouldn’t sabotage someone else’s feelings or state of mind because we have never learned to take care of our ego.
To help navigate towards that direction, here are 8 ways on how to work on your ego:
#1 Understand that you are not perfect, neither is your opposite. Perfection will never be attained as long as you live on this earth.
#2 Learn to resolve your own problems. Assume the responsibility for your own feelings and matters that affect you. You give others the permission to hurt you, at the same time, you decide to hurt someone else. Choose to be responsible.
#3 Laugh about yourself more. Don’t take yourself too seriously and always keep in mind that life is a journey.
#4 Interact with people. As an introverted extrovert, I understand this can be quite a challenge. Still, I encourage you to push yourself to interact with people just to give yourself the chance to observe and learn from what you see yourself doing and/or saying.
#5 Be wise, be considerate, be humble with other people, especially when you criticize them.
#6 Choose to react based on what you know, admit what you don’t know and strive to find answers for your lack of knowledge.
#7 Make unbiased understanding your premiss. Give others the benefit of the doubt which in return will give you the opportunity to learn.
#8 Don’t assume and hold on to your assumptions, especially when you have been proven wrong – your assumptions are your own theory, not the truth.
Your self pride should not cancel your humility and kindness. Don’t let ego cloud your thinking process and logic. Instead, decide to work on yourself, spend time with yourself to become better. Use your everyday relationships to observe your behaviour.
Also, make proper use of your singleness. In so doing, you attract the type of person that will honour you and lift you even further to become the best version of yourself. In humility and kindness, learn to say the words “I’m sorry, I miss you, I love you” – skip the “e” and let it “go”.
With love and gratitude,