- Mental Health»
- Mental Health Self-Help
Some Simply Resist to Emotionally Grow Up
Those Kids in Grownup Bodies
There are many easily recognizable folks out there who have stayed emotionally imprisoned in their childhood or early adolescence. We can spot them for their impulsive and self-centered behavior, and they are generally a pain in the butt, one way or another, to those who have to deal with them.
Quite oftentimes the chances are that you may hear them even before you see them, as they are always the loudest ones around, expressing that childish need for attention. They don't only talk loud, they also laugh loud, and usually use hands to make themselves more convincing - whenever they don't do it by profanities or by bringing god down to be their witness.
When they can't get attention in a positive way, they may resort to being obnoxious, just like toddlers banging on something and forcing adults to attend to them. Well, as we are about to see, immature adults have a whole possible repertoire of expressing their immaturity, and not all of them are equally pronounced or even present in every one of them. Characteristics of such folks are too many to be all mentioned, but let's see as many of them as they come to mind.
A Mega Self-Centeredness
Some of those adults who are stuck emotionally in childhood almost can't have a conversation without frequently starting their sentences with "I like...I don't like...I hate...I want...I always...I never..." - as if those around should really feel obligated to care or take notes about it, so that "they may not make a mistake in the future by losing that from their sight".
Needless to say, they have to feel in the center of attention, and that gets amplified by an attitude of entitlement. Family and society have to cater to their needs, and when they don't, anything can result - from a tantrum to a war, because, believe it or not, many a leader has some deep seated emotional immaturity of a careerist and social climber, with a strong need to make a big splash, if not a global tsunami.
Not Cut for Fair Discussions
Those immature adults of intellectual type tend to display intellectual arrogance with academic vanity as an additional trait. In discussions it's by far much more important "who" ends up being right than "what" is right.
They tend to put others' knowledge down, often resorting to low blows, as if following that advice of the ancient Roman orator Cicero : "When you run out of healthy arguments - insult the opponent".
They are the peacocks of intellect, stressing their advantages, oftentimes going into lengths to prove themselves and their intellectual status, mentioning their competence and academic achievements - as if that alone is to prove them correct.
Just like the rest of emotionally immature folks, they are craving for love and attention - either the one that they never got enough from parents, or for a continuation of too much of that attention that they got from them.
Hiding Behind the Mask of Sarcasm
Quite often, they will mask their soft and immature emotionality with a pose of cynicism, satire, irony, sarcasm - whatever else you want to call that defensive armor that seems to provide security from others hurting them emotionally.
I used to know a guy like that, who would turn everything into humor, targeting those around and their sacred values, mocking the human race every way he could. Well, the guy ended up dying in his fifties, never really taken seriously by anyone, deep down alone and unable to establish a lasting friendship, as he was more tolerated than liked for his strange attitude.
We started as friends, and it ended up by my kicking his ass out of my house - not physically but politely, because I am a nice guy.
With Hearts Starved for Love and Affection
That unconscious emotional starvation which is making such folks stuck in childhood sometimes expresses itself as a compulsive shopping. As they need to make themselves more visible and important, they try to add something to their stature by adding to their possessions which are somehow symbolizing "what they are worth".
Then it outgrows into bragging or competing with friends, siblings, neighbors, and co-workers. It may also turn into hoarding of specific items or amassing wealth. Yes, some of those filthy rich folks are nothing deep down but emotionally immature individuals unable to get enough attention, no matter how famous they have become for their fabulous wealth.
Just like a few of those movie celebrities who admitted in their autobiographies how they had never felt loved or appreciated despite their fame. They could never yank themselves out from some painful childhood impressions about their worthlessness, and no one could fill that void in their hearts later in life.
The World Run by Immature Grownups?
Before I mentioned some state leaders who share those characteristics of immature self-centeredness, and I am sure you could spot a few of them posing a threat to the global peace. Let's think about it for a moment.
With their education and smartness of their many advisors one would expect that peaceful solutions would be just a matter of a bunch of sober and cool diplomats sitting around a table and rationally examining their differences.
But no way, there is an obviously strong emotional charge on one or both sides polluting their clear reasoning. At times in the recent history even the United Nations Assembly sounded more like a bunch of children pissed off over a crazy issue. Really, aren't you ever amazed that educated folks apparently can't use some of that brain to tame those primitive dragons of emotional immaturity in themselves.
On the Lower Side of the Scale
So far we have been focusing on those types of emotionally immature adults who, one way or another demanded attention, respect, and catering to their emotional needs. However, there are those others whom I am categorizing as "mental beggars".
Those are the drama queens of this world, whiners and pathetic manipulators seeing themselves as victims of family, society, or some personal natural disadvantage. They make themselves dependent on others' help, understanding, and constant support, seemingly unable to cut that umbilical cord from family.
Their almost nonexistent sense of personal responsibility makes them a true pain in the butt to those who " simply don't have a heart to abandon them". Just like kids, they see those soft spots of their supporters and cleverly abuse them like experts at emotional manipulation.
Addicted to Others' Support
I am talking about individuals who simply refuse to grow up, and I believe that you have seen at least one of such shiny specimens of human beings. If they are not of your own blood, maybe you were tempted to call them "parasites of family and society".
Their high sense of entitlement may also include self-pity that's in a life mission of collecting others' sympathy. They are usually school dropouts, changing jobs all the time, and more often than not they are addictive personalities, seeking chemical crutches to make more bearable frictions with those who don't show willingness to cater to their whims and emotional outbursts, and who don't seem to buy their neediness.
They Exist as Long as Support Exists
So, what do we do with such people? That part of me which grew out of an almost Spartan self-discipline is tempted to suggest kicking their self-centered butt and letting them know that planets of the solar system are not orbiting around them.
Whether they are ruthless social climbers, arrogant intellectuals, or a garden variety of losers, they should be put in place, because it's really no one's obligation to tolerate or even cater to their emotional immaturity.
The last thing that we should do is to keep giving in to their tantrums and irrational demands. One way or another, they have to be pushed into emotional maturity and start feeling responsible for their lives. By "responsible" I don't mean "blamed", but response-able, or able to respond to the life's demands without an impulsive knee-jerk reactiveness which is so typical for emotional immaturity.
Not to Be Mistaken for Neurosis
There is a distinction to be made between those who refuse to mature emotionally while unconsciously using it as a strategy of psycho-physical survival - and those bona fide neurotics who need a professional attention or some effective modality of a self-therapy.
Neurotics are those unfortunate adults who, either because of some strong emotional trauma or a negative childhood conditioning can't cut loose from that emotional tail that they are dragging and which makes them bump into reality every step of the way.
That old emotional scar is preventing them from an emotional investment into trusting, loving, and constructive relationships. Some of them may develop that trait of dependency sharing it with emotionally immature folks. But basically they are suffering ones, whereas emotionally immature ones are calculative in their need to be provided for.
What Is Emotional Maturity?
Finally, what would qualify as emotional maturity? Basically it's characterized by an inner hierarchy of mental forces where emotions are not enjoying a status superior to that one of the reason.
It's also a mental organization of a certain personal sovereignty, meaning that we are not suggestible puppets of family or society. Emotionally mature persons have a developed strong sense of their individuality, they know what they want and they got a full emotional support in the pursue of their goals.
They are good at allowing emotions a full authority and guidance in those areas of life where reasoning would just be in a way of free emotional expression. Notably in love, sex, play, entertainment, fun, artistic expressions, enjoying music and dance, humor, and whatever else would call for exclusive investment of emotions.
I hope that the distinction between maturity and immaturity has been presented clearly enough, and those who may need some personality correction in that respect have recognized themselves in these preceding paragraphs.
Amazingly enough, unlike neurotics who need a sort of a therapy, emotionally immature folks may only need a change in attitude about their own life, and about those around them who may deserve more respect from them.