Emotional Maturity
Ep. 206
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This week, I dive into emotional maturity. Most of us live in emotional childhood, meaning we want everyone else to fix how we feel. Spoiler alert: there’s a bit of tough love coming so prepare yourself. I like to use the analogy of a car accident. If you get hit by a car, the accident is not your fault but it’s your responsibility to do the work to heal, to go through PT. Life is not fair. You will never control the things outside of you. But you can control how you react to what happens to you. In this podcast, I teach you the difference between emotional maturity and emotional childhood, how your emotions affect your actions, and how to take responsibility for your own life.

Show Transcript
Hey, welcome to Lessons From a Quitter where we believe that it is never too late to start over. No matter how much time or energy you spent getting to where you are, if ultimately you are unfulfilled, then it is time to get out. Join me each week for both inspiration and actionable tips so that we can get you on the road to your dreams.

Hello, my friends. Welcome to another episode. I'm so excited you are here. You're in for a little bit of tough love. I mean, hopefully you know that it always comes with love but I think that today's topic is something that we all need to hear from time to time myself included. We're gonna jump into it in a second. I just wanted to let you know that doors are open to my six-month program, Pave Your Path, for just this week. They're open June 13th through the 17th. If you wanna be in this round where we will work deeply on your own fears and issues and plans and strategies for what you wanna do with your career over the next six months, where you'll have access to over six modules of workbooks and videos that will walk you through the process that you need to go after any goal in your life and meet the best version of yourself in the future, to start living more on your own terms, to paving your own path if you will, I want you in this round. It is a small group, spaces limited and you will have one-on-one access to me through Voxer. We will do weekly group coaching calls. We will get you where you want to go. And here's the actually the big key, why I want you to join: I want you to stop spinning in this cycle of I know this isn't for me. I don't know what I wanna do. I'm overwhelmed. I'm gonna just keep going back through the same three thoughts over and over again and stay exactly where I'm at. I want you to come in and in six months we will sort it out. We will figure out do you wanna stay in this career and manage your mind? Is that possible? You'll test it out. Can you set boundaries? Can you start actually enjoying your life or no, maybe this chapter's over and I wanna move on to the next one and I wanna figure out what that is. And I wanna start uncovering who I actually am. We'll sort that out too. Stop putting it off for another year and another year and another year. Let's get it done. Alright, so if you wanna join, go to lessonsfromaquitter.com/paveyourpath and make sure you get in before Friday. Alright, let's jump in to this very important topic of emotional maturity. So what do I mean by emotional maturity? Well, like most of us, when we were children, we were dependent on other people to meet all of our needs. And a lot of that even included our emotional needs, right? Whether we got to feel safe or loved or neglected or whatever the emotions were that we might be feeling was very dependent on how the adults in our lives acted. And for a lot of us, because we haven't been taught any other way, as we have entered actual adulthood like our physical bodies have sort of grown and our brains have grown into actual adulthood and developed, our emotional states oftentimes stay in childhood. Now we all fluctuate between emotional childhood and emotional maturity. And part of what I wanna talk about is how we start becoming aware of this so that we can spend more time in emotional maturity, right? We can catch ourselves. And so what I will say to start this off is that none of this is ever may meant to make you feel bad about yourself and to feel bad if you recognize that you're doing some of these things because we all do them. It's simply to bring awareness so that we can start figuring out what is a better way to live. How else can I show up in my life? Right? And so the key to emotional maturity is understanding what you control. For a lot of us, we are still under the belief that other people's actions, what other people choose to think and feel and do is what makes us feel certain things, right, is the key to whether I'm happy or not. And as long as we believe that then we have no power because everybody else has to act a certain way in order for me to feel good. And if, as long as that is my truth, then I'm helpless. There's nothing I can do, right? Because these other people refuse to act the way I want them to act. When we start understanding that that's not the truth, right, that other people get to think and feel and act however they want and I still get to choose to control my own thoughts, feelings, and actions cuz that's all I control. I don't control anything else in this world. I don't control the circumstances I was born into. I don't control the people around me. I don't control what my government does. I mean, to some extent I do, I can vote. I can do certain things but you get what I mean like I don't have a say in how everybody else in this country acts. I don't have a say in, you know, pretty much anything else besides myself. And so understanding that I only control myself and that I have to take responsibility for that. I have to take a hundred percent responsibility for how I think and feel and act. And if you feel resistance to that, I want you to understand when I am saying responsibility, I'm not saying fault. I think in our society, we're so quick to want to blame something or somebody. We're so quick to want to think that if something is quote unquote wrong or if there is a weakness or if there is something that we would prefer to be different, that somebody has to be to blame. And so either it's somebody else and we get to blame them for the way that we feel or if it's not them then it's me and I have to feel a ton of shame and beat myself up and think like why can't I be better? And why can't I not do this? And whatever I know I should be doing these other things. Why am I not doing it? None of that is necessary. There doesn't need to be any shame or blame for any of this. It's just a matter of understanding that like this is the current circumstance. This is what is available to me. How do I want to react? How do I want to show up? So when I say fault versus responsibility, I want you to understand the difference. I like to give this analogy. If you get hit by a truck, it's clearly the driver's fault the truck driver's fault. Okay. It is still your responsibility to do the rehab in order to walk again. Okay? You are allowed to it's perfectly within your right to lay in that hospital bed and be upset that somebody hit you and to scream and cry that it's not fair. And I shouldn't have to do this painful rehab but then you just don't get to walk, right? You may not get to walk as well or you may not get to get rid of your pain or whatever is gonna come from that rehab. If you want to make your future better, you have to go through the painful rehab that is required of you. Now it's not your fault that you had to do it. It's not fair. Nobody's saying life is fair or that our circumstances are fair. It's just that we get presented with these circumstances and the only thing we control is how we respond to it. The only thing we control is how we're going to react to it. The only thing we control is how we show up. That's it. Now again, I'm not saying that bad things aren't happening to you. Of course they are, right? Of course, in life there is racism and abuse and trauma and patriarchy and sexism and all of these things that have a hand in shaping our lives. Right? And we don't all have the same hands dealt. That's without a doubt unequivocally true. Some of us have it easier. Some of us have a ton more privilege. That's absolutely true but we don't control those. Right? I want you to understand this like I don't get to control whether the world that I live in is a white supremacist culture. It just is. Now I get to work to change it. I get to decide how do I want to show up for that? And what I decide determines my life, right? I can decide to fight it from a place of like if I want to feel empowered and joy and feel like I am making a change or I can do it from a place of anger and resentment and burnout. Which I've I've talked about if you listen to the podcast, I talk a lot about the anger I felt when I was a public defender and how much rage I felt against the system and how all that ever did was burn me out and get me to quit. It didn't change the system. It didn't change the circumstances. And so even within things that we do not control, even within the really heavy systemic issues that we have in our country and in our lives, the only way to show up and to continuously show up to for the change that we want, for the things we wanna do is to control our own thoughts and feelings about it, is to figure out what is gonna be a thought that serves me, that's gonna get me to show up, that's gonna get me to not feel helpless, that's gonna get me to keep working towards change. Even if it's slow, even if progress isn't happening. That's still the only thing I control. I don't control that life is unfair, right? If you think about, let's say you have a trauma in your life and if your thought is like there's nothing I can do about it or unfortunately, for a lot of us, a lot of our thoughts when we have trauma is shame and turning it inwards. Like there's something wrong with me now I'm broken and I'll never be loved or whatever that is. Think about what that creates for you in your life, the amount of pain and suffering, the amount of negative emotions that you feel which then lead to your actions of maybe not going after the life that you want and not allowing people in to help you and not allowing for more love and not allowing yourself to see your whole fullness, right. Now let's say you have that same exact trauma and your thought is I will always take care of myself. Like what happened to me is not who I am. I was doing the best I could in that moment with what I had and whatever defense mechanisms I had and now I will learn better and take care better care of myself. And I will make sure that that doesn't define me. I mean, just think about like the circumstance doesn't change but how you think about it changes your experience of it. It changes your future possibilities, just your future in general, right? The the future that you experience. There doesn't have to be blame. Responsibility broken down, right, is your ability to respond. It's your ability to have your own response to whatever is happening. And so self-compassion is key to this. This is not to say like this thing happened, even if let's say I just, you know, said the thought that like I showed up the best way I could to that trauma and now I'm showing up better. I really want you guys to understand this key thing with self-compassion. We are always trying the best that we can. We always are. Now maybe our best at certain times in our lives is not something that we liked or we wish we had done it differently. But that doesn't mean that it wasn't the best that you could do. Maybe when you were a child or when you were a young adult and your brain hadn't formed or whenever even last week. So when you know to give yourself that self-compassion, instead of beating yourself up, instead of constantly thinking I should have handled it differently. Why didn't I stick up for myself? Why didn't I do X, Y, and Z but knowing like I'm so proud of myself for taking care of me in the best way I knew how at that moment and that might have been with like a maladaptive behavior, that might have been to lash out, to be aggressive, to be a people-pleaser, to be a perfectionist, whatever it was. That was some type of action that my brain was taking in order to protect me. And yes, it might have had downfalls but I was doing it from a place of like taking care of myself. So having that thought like I always take care of myself and now maybe I'm just learning better ways of taking care of myself is such a more useful way of thinking about yourself than constantly thinking like I did this wrong. I should have done it better. They did a study. They've done tons of studies on resilience. And they have found like over the past 25-30 years, psychologists have been studying children who were raised in really harsh environments and with a lot of really traumatic events happening. And one of the biggest findings they have found on resilience is that the way resilience is cultivated and the subsequent happiness, right? Whether people end up to go on to build happy and more relatively healthy, productive lives depends on where the person believed the locus of control was. Okay. So what that means is their findings were that if you believed it's external to you, if you think that you have no power and the locus of control is outside of you, that will leave you less helpless. So those people tend to be less resilient to traumatic events, right? Because if you think that you have no control then there's nothing you can do. That brings on the feeling of helplessness and despair, right? Like if there's nothing else that you can do, then you just have to take it. You just have to keep taking whatever this world keeps dishing out at us. If you believe that the locus of control is internal, then you have power. You have power to how you react. You have power into how you're gonna show up. Those were the people that went on to be able to overcome their obstacles and to create lasting happiness and success for themselves. Even if they had the same exact circumstances, the same exact hands dealt, it was realizing that they had some control. They don't have all the control. They don't decide what ends up happening in their life to them but they decide that they have the control on how they're gonna react. And when I say this, I don't mean to say that taking responsibility means constantly trying to like problem solve or feel good or change your thoughts so that you're always feeling great. That's not what I'm talking about here. We're not talking about toxic positivity. When I give you the example of the truck, getting hit by the truck, your responsibility is to heal, right? That responsibility may mean to take time off, to stop trying to go so hard, to focus on your healing from that getting hit by a truck, right? So when I'm saying this, especially even about your emotional wounds or when people that come to me and they constantly wanna get to the next achievement and the next achievement and the next achievement because they think that getting there is going to make them feel better. Sometimes when we have these really tough emotional wounds or we have these pasts that we haven't reckoned with, our responsibility is to figure out what you need and give it to yourself. Maybe it's the time to actually heal. Maybe it's a season of rest, right? Maybe we just decide that like I'm not a robot and my whole life isn't meant to constantly be productive. Now maybe it's taking action, right? There's gonna be times and seasons in our life where the responsible thing for you to do is to take action. But really having that emotional maturity of deciding how you're gonna react means taking care of yourself. And sometimes that means slowing down. That means getting the resources and the tools that you need to help yourself, right? It doesn't mean that you have to whip yourself into feeling good all the time because it's your responsibility. It's the opposite of that. It's the opposite that like when you were a child, oftentimes your emotions weren't allowed. We've all heard like don't cry. It's not that big of a deal. Big girls or big boys don't cry, right? Like we've all had our emotions minimized. We've all been taught to sort of suppress it. That like we don't show people. We don't wanna be overly emotional, whatever it is. So we've all spent our whole lives running away from our emotions because we're so scared of them. And emotional maturity means allowing your emotions and creating your own safety, is knowing that like maybe this situation that's happened is something that I require like parenting myself and allowing myself to feel angry and allowing myself to feel grief and allowing myself to feel whatever it is that I need to feel in order to be able to properly process this and not just suppress it and put on a happy face and act like I have everything together and, you know, try to get everyone to think I'm perfect.

What it means is really checking in to understand like what do I need and how do I want to show up? And when I say this, I've talked a lot about feelings on this podcast. When I say how do I want to show up, there are times where you're going to want negative emotions. The point is not to be positive all the time. When there are injustices that happen in the world, where there are injustices that happen to you, you want to feel angry and sadness and grief and disappointment and whatever other negative emotion is coming up for you, right? They call this clean pain. It's just the pain that comes with being a human and going through this world. And it's okay. And again, emotional maturity is knowing like I wanna take responsibility for that. I get to feel this way. I get to feel disappointed or hurt. I get to give myself the time that grief requires for when this person I lose a person or when I break up with someone or when a friendship ends or whatever it is when I feel hurt. It means deciding what you need and giving that to yourself instead of waiting for somebody else to give it to you. And this is the biggest thing that I want you to take away from this episode and understanding emotional maturity is that you have agency. So many of us are unhappy in our lives because we assume incorrectly that there's nothing I can do, that this is just the situation, right? Whether you're miserable in your job or in a relationship or where you live or a million other things, I get constantly people coming to me and telling me that they're stuck. And I just like to gently remind them that no you are not. Very few of us that are listening to this podcast are actually stuck. Do not confuse a hard choice with no choice. Okay? When you tell me I can't quit. I can't set boundaries. I can't say no to my mom. I can't move to another state. I can't end this relationship. Yes, you can. Yes, you absolutely can. You're an adult. And you can do whatever you want. Did you know that? Well, there's a couple things you can't do cuz of laws but, you know, you get what I'm saying. You choose not to because it's scary, because it feels uncertain, because it's big, because it's serving some purpose in your life, because it's hard for people to disagree with you, because it's hard to have people be disappointed in you. All of those things are hard but it doesn't mean that they're impossible. Right? All of those things are big and scary and that's why we choose not to do them. It's okay to not make a change. Right. I am in no way trying to push you to do something you don't want to do. I just want you to understand that you are choosing that. It isn't just semantics. Okay? Helplessness is ruminating on something that you wanna do and feel like you can't, wallowing in self-pity, not finding solutions, not putting your brain to work and constantly like playing the poor me I there's nothing I can do. Which just creates more of that feeling versus actively choosing saying like you know what, I have to stay in this job because I have bills to pay. I'm gonna stay here for at least two years while I save money to go to the next career. Right. Just making that choice stops so much of the mental drama, stops so much of the unnecessary suffering. It helps you focus on that next step. It helps you think like okay, fine. My short term, I'm gonna be here. How can I make myself less miserable while I'm here? How can I figure out how to speed up this process of saving money, right? Then I can get into action. So when I tell you like like you're choosing it again, it's not because I wanna blame you. I don't want you to use this as a reason to beat yourself up. I want you to just take agency over it. I want you to like understand that it's your choice that you're saying like yeah, for me and my family, the best thing to do right now is to stay here, is to keep this job, is to not move out of state, is whatever. Great. And every decision's gonna be 50/50, right? Every decision's gonna have good and bad. So if I'm choosing this right now, how do I focus on what I do control? How do I focus on the thoughts and feelings I have with this decision? Because the more I do that, then I change my experience. As I continue to stay in this situation that maybe isn't my ideal, maybe isn't the place I wanna stay for the rest of my life. Right? So the more you start learning to take that agency and take that responsibility and decide like I get to decide how I'm gonna think and feel about this situation. I'm gonna decide that if I'm staying here, it's gonna serve a purpose and I'm not gonna self make myself more miserable than I have to be. And I'm not gonna layer on all this dirty pain. And I'm not gonna sit in suffering and constantly think about poor me, poor me. Right? I'm gonna figure out like what can I do? How do I wanna react?

The reason this is so important is that nobody is coming to save us. I know that is so disappointing to hear and so harsh. And I say it with the utmost love because I was waiting for somebody to save me for so long. I was waiting for somebody to come tell me it's okay. You all of a sudden, here's all this money. You don't have to work anymore. And that wasn't happening. And so I was just miserable in my career, miserable when I came home, racked with anxiety and worry and guilt. Never living the way that I wanted to, thinking that something was gonna magically change. And if you listen to this podcast and you know that I've done tons of episodes of like there is no place that you get to, there's no job, there's no amount of money, there's no nowhere that you will get that all of a sudden you will wake up and have a different human brain and all of a sudden be able to handle all your emotions and set boundaries and say no to people like this is work that you have to do. Taking responsibility means okay, something's not working in my life. I need to figure out how to change that. I need to figure out how to change how I show up and how I react and how I take this in. I recently had this realization again with myself that I wasn't in emotional maturity and I was playing the victim in my life. I think I talked about this on a previous episode where I was having a huge pity party about my schedule and my kids and COVID and all those things. And what had happened was I kept telling myself look, there's nothing I can do. Like if my nanny is exposed to COVID and she can't come in, then I just can't get my work done. And if, you know, the kids end up having to stay home from school, then all of my day is gone. Right. And it seemed so true. Like the facts were like of course this circumstance is here, right? My nanny's not coming in today which means I don't have the time I I thought I would have. But when I realized how much power I was giving up, how much I was abdicating my own responsibility by saying like this is just the circumstance in the world and not to say that it is the circumstance in the world and it does uproot everything. But when I caught myself, instead of beating myself up and really like trying to um figure out someone else to blame, which is what I was doing, I was blaming my husband. I was blaming my nanny. I was blaming everybody else. I was blaming people that didn't want to take the pandemic seriously. And when I realized like okay, what do I control? I get to decide what I'm gonna do with my day. And if that means like once I started looking for solutions, I started realizing like when I have really important things on my schedule and the kids are unexpectedly home with me, I find a way to get 'em done. I may call my mom and ask her like hey, can you cancel whatever you're doing? And come to my my house. I tell my husband like you have to stay home from work today cuz I have a call from 10 to 11. I put them in front of the TV. Right. There's a lot of things I could do. I could have looked for backup childcare that I could hire in case somebody couldn't come right. There was a million things I could do. I just didn't want to do them. Right. I thought that it was unfair because originally I had a plan and that plan didn't go the way I wanted. And so I wanted to have a pity party and that's okay. I mean, I did it for awhile. And then when I realized like that's not helping me, it's not changing COVID, it's not changing my schedule. It's just leaving me feeling resentful of everybody else and playing the victim. And the minute I changed that, everything shifted. I started realizing like I could just put my kids in front of the TV the whole day. Now I don't want to so I'm choosing not to do that. I'm choosing to say like hey today I'm gonna get less work done. And is that fair? No, it's not fair. But it is what it is like it is the circumstance. So I get to decide how I'm gonna feel about it. I get to decide like okay, I guess this month we just decide that we're not gonna work as much as we did in other months or we decide that like I need help. And I ask for help or we decide like hey, the kids have to be in front of the TV. And there's nothing for me to feel guilty about because I have to get this job done. But like that is where my power lies instead of spending week after week feeling completely enraged because I'm so resentful at everybody and everything in my life. I love this quote: the quality of your life is determined by the quality of questions you ask yourself. And I think so often when we're so busy asking ourself terrible questions like why is my life so hard? Why doesn't my husband wanna help more? Why does it have to be like this? Why am I such a mess? Like your brain will go to work to answer those questions. It will show you evidence of why your life is so hard, right? Why your husband is the worst and doesn't help with anything. Why uh you're just such a mess. Look, it'll point out every instance that you do things messy. But if you start asking questions like what can I do in this situation? What options do I have? What do I control right here and right now? How can I think about this in a different way? You start opening up your brain to looking for different solutions. This isn't going to magically change everything. It isn't going to like make your life rainbows and butterflies cuz nothing will but it will allow you so much more control and so much more peace when you can let go of a lot of the suffering that you have attached to needing everybody and everything else in this world to be a certain way so that you can be happy. It is one of the most critical skills you can learn. And again, it's not as though you're just gonna be completely some zen master that's always in emotional maturity. We dip back and forth. Like I said, I mean, I've been doing this work for years. I'm a master certified coach. And I realized I was in emotional childhood a month ago. Right. It's just catching yourself. It's just constantly with each situation being like what is in my control here? How am I abdicating responsibility right now? How am I waiting for somebody else to come save me instead of fixing this situation? What do I want to do here? Right? Why am I not doing it? Like I said, I mean, I think it's the most important skill that you can learn because it changes the way you react to every part of your life. And if you want to learn how to actually apply this in your life, cuz hearing it is one thing, but really getting how to do it in your own life is another, I want you to join me in Pave Your Path. I want you to stop waiting for someone else to come save you. There isn't gonna be some like what's the word? Watershed watershed moment like some moment where all of a sudden everything changes and you have no fear and you learn how to manage your mind. Like this is work that has to happen every single day. It's like going to the gym. I want you to stop putting it off. Stop waiting for another six months or a year to start doing this. Start figuring out like how do I take responsibility now? How do I start thinking about my life differently? How do I show up differently so that I can be happy. I would love to help you with this. I would love to go deeper with you. You can go to lessonsfromaquitter.com/paveyourpath and join me in next round. I hope to see you there. And until then, I will see you next week for another episode.

Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, share it with someone else. I promise you know somebody who also hates their job and wants to quit, so why not share the love? And if you want to come follow along for more, come join me on Instagram at LessonsFromAQuitter and make sure you say hi. I'll see you next week for another episode.