Dear friends, what does emotional maturity mean to you?
For me it has changed over the years, as I have grown. Currently I am sorting through over a decade of spiritual practices that helped me to develop emotional maturity in a lot of ways but in other ways sent a lot of my emotional sensitivity and wisdom into hiding. These practices, though well intentioned, were founded in domination and control models of dealing with emotions, treating them as inconveniences to be done away with as quickly as possible.
I inherited these approaches from family members that were the only stable, safe, and reliable sources of love and nurture in my upbringing and clung to them because of the emotionally chaotic circumstances of my immediate family. I associated freedom of emotional expression and full emotional experiencing with danger, chaos, entrapment and pain, not wisdom and growth.
The family members that did provide a sanctuary of safety did so by suppressing most of their emotions under the Beaver Cleaver family relationship model. Feelings were expressed through passive aggressive comments and subtle manipulation. Emotional expressions were severely frowned upon.
Over the course of my personal healing process I was drawn to therapeutic yoga and body work, which helped me to get back in touch with my body and heal much of the physical ailments that resulted from this emotional suppression.
However, the teachings I received about how to be with past and current emotional processing patterns were based on a curious blend of this same suppression to keep the peace and explosive expression to let off steam. It was an immature system due to the teacher's unresolved trauma from his upbringing. Ultimately I managed to use the teachings to develop the suppression or bypassing of emotions to an exquisite evenness that was dependent on controlling my outer environment, isolating myself, and hiding out to maintain it.
When I received the call to re-engage with the world and my emotions, it was a welcome relief from the rigorous practices required to maintain that evenness. There were a number of deep desires for my life that I could not approach within my current model of coping. I wanted to develop meaningful friendships, especially with women. I wanted to deepen the intimacy with my partner. I wanted to create and share something with the world that was uniquely my own, my essential gift and purpose.
All of these desires required me to open up a space of allowing around my emotions. This was terrifying as after so many years of suppression it was like a geyser. I was spilling and spattering and sputtering all over everyone around me, and still do from time to time. What got me through is what one ally along the way said to me, that there is a wisdom underneath every emotion. So I started looking for that.
This search drew me to my womb. The wisdom of how life is created and nurtured. The purpose of emotions in relationship. The natural development process for emotional wisdom, clarity, and maturity. Where emotional wisdom and spiritual connection come together. The crucial place of emotional wisdom within all of life, including areas that typically exile emotions as inappropriate such as business, finances, and organization. All of this began to arise from within me, and continues to do so.
I would love to invite you to join in the conversation. What does emotional maturity mean to you?