Emotional maturity and infantile emotions

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Part one:

In dealing with emotions it is impossible to do it without this two opposite terms: ‘Being emotionally mature’ and ‘being emotionally infantile’.

But why is there at all a stage of being infantile emotionally?

Well, the emotions do not grow and mature automatically, like the body that its organs reach ripeness and top functionality in a specific time span.

The emotions need to go through a certain process that will transfom them from a raw state of: chaos consumption and ego orientated state – to a state of inner organization and balanced function and also emotional ability to recognize, and manage emotions at different stages of life and to have empathy for the emotions of others.

And now to explain; let’s take aggression; when we are being attacked – we respond (mostly) in one or two way: either attack back or are lowering our profile, give up our position and trying to please the attacker.

The first is aggressive, the second – regressive, both are on the emotionally infantile level. The third response is assertive and belong to the emotionally mature person, and he can navigate his emotions (and this in contrary to the first two who are victims of their emotional polarity), and he can decide if he can stand on his own or give up. He has got a choice, when the emotionally infantile has no choice. His emotional polarity is deciding for him. The emotionally mature responds in a wise way, he doesn’t have to respond, he responds if he finds it right, and this is opposite to the emotionally infantile, that reacts impulsively.

The same about the relation to suffering and pain; the emotionally mature accepts them as part of life, whereas the emotionally infantile wonders as to why he deserves it at all, what did he do that it falls upon him? He takes the ‘mine fields’ of his life – personally.

The emotionally mature relates to his suffering and pain in a stoic way (a particular school of Hellenistic philosophy: Stoicism[1]); being indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain. Or is trying to find a meaning in it or as a price for something. For example: in being in love; the  E.M. (emotionally mature) doesn’t get into a shock when being heartbroken by his loved one, he understands that: to love someone is to suffer it. He knows that the measurement of the value of something or somebody, is always through the price the person is willing to pay for it or him/her. This conception stems out of emotional maturity.

But, the passage from infantile to mature – emotions, is by no means, a simple process, and in fact, it is a kind of an Alchemical[2] process, a process of a change in the state of matter, a metamorphosis. Something low is going through a quantum leap[3] – purifies, refines, and is stabilized on a higher level. And there – he is still him, but is also something else.

The analogy in Alchemy is the turning of lad (emotions in an infantile level) to gold (emotions on a high level; the higher emotional body). It is the same metal, but at the same time it is a different metal.

There is a difference of value between the two metals, the first is cheap and common, and the second is an expensive and rare metal.

And back to what happens to a person after he went through the process of turning lad into gold; well, he doesn’t allow the ego to be strengthened and be built, by connecting to infantile emotions.

The emotionally mature understands that he is lucky if anyone relates and deals with him, at all. In other words, he knows and understands that realistically, emotional communication between people is made, to a large extent, from ego and fantasy, therefore he is approaching the other in the approach of: an emotional give and take. He is coming from the base of emotional contract, which is based on being authentic from one hand and give full space from the other.

Part two:

This could sound quiet simple, even schematic to certain extent, but in reality the difference between both is more cunning, and why cunning? In our society the emotional infantile – learned to disguise itself and appear adult and mature.  People repress infantile emotions and they behave and look as though they are completely emotionally mature.

But how do we know that under the cover of the mature – hides an infantile emotionally? Well, by his response when he gets emotional hurt. (This is an effective test); the mature externalizes it; either by opening it up or doing creative work with it. The infantile is taking it in, becomes glued to it, cannot let go, this is identification (with the hurt, with the injustice), and the final stage is called: personal involvement). The infantile gets terribly hurt because they are not protected by a neutral-mature protection.

Another point which characterize the emotionally infantile is the way he communicates with others; he is sensitive to his ego and hardly sensitive to the ego of others. And in his communicational transactions – he talks mainly about himself, and hardly give feedback to others about themselves. This causes much work for others, who has to guess (in the absence of a feedback) how the emotionally infantile is receiving him.

And as for the E.M.  His insistence is to give feedback, for giving feedback to the others in communicational transaction –transmits to the other, an interest in him because of him being him, and not because of anything else. The E.M.’s feedback does not relate to facts but reflects and exposes to the other the internal position of the E.M. in relation to the content of what has been said. He is not relating to the facts being said, but to the intention behind them.

And as of the emotionally infantile (E.I.) – researches show that while they are putting on a front of E.M. – their emotions are not in control. So, according to this – the more efforts the E.I. would invest in behaving in an E.M. way (“I don’t have personal interests, I just present facts”) – so would the infantile part would intensified, for in the absence of monitoring and inspection, the infantile emotions could only go wild even more.

We got used to believe that grownups do things from realistic and rational stand point, but in reality it is their emotions that navigate thier, so called, rational decisions. While the E.M. is operating from an inner center of gravity (their being) and not from childish emotions. 

Part three:

One of the characteristics of the E.I. is the phenomenon of excitement; a heating up of emotional energy. Almost anything puts him into emotional high voltage or some sort of emotional orgy.

This is strange for the E.M. – his emotions are cool and calm. Excitement of emotions in the E.M. person is, for him, like the lines appearing on the television screen when operating an electrical equipment. Therefore he is very careful from excitement or anything which might heat his emotions, for than, his consciousness screen will be full with disturbances.

And what about inner peace in the E.I.? Well, he is mostly in one or two poles (states); either excitement or inner emptiness. While the E.M. is in one state only; peacefulness of the emotions.

This state does not arrive by itself, for the E.M. person is watching all the time that his emotions would not go over a certain level of excitement. He stops it before the flood, only than he succeeds not to become a victim for the current stimulation. And then he is not kidnaped by is overflowing emotions.

Being overexcited is like the emotions become inflammable. But the emotions should not be inflammable at all, what should catch fire is spirituality. The emotions are like the liquids surrounding the brain, it is the brain that should catch fire not the liquid around it. It is there to protect it, to cool it, and so it is with the infantile emotions.

Another analogy about the relations between the emotions and spirituality is an army camp and the guard at the camp’s gate. The guard is the I.E. and the army base itself is the inner being. In order to reach the inner being one must go through the emotions (the guard), but if they are not tamed and peaceful, the guest could not enter the camp, because the I.E. are too dominant, the emotions in the infantile stage will ‘steal’ the experience and will not let the experience (the visitor to the army camp) reach the spiritual realms and allow it to catch fire, instead of this the emotions themselves catch fire…

In the E.M. person the emotions do not block the passage of an experience into his inner center of gravity.

The emotions can allow or block (by overheating) and ‘kidnap’ the experience, and the inner core remains starved for new experiences. And then the person feels inner emptiness.

Another analogy is the sunlight; the I.E. ‘breaks’ the rays and become colorful instead of the rays continue inside to the inner being.

When observing an E.M. person – no color is seen, in fact, he looks grey. Whereas as when looking at an E.I. person he looks colorful, and full of happenings, and people who see this say: ‘great, he is so full of life’…

And here is a paradox; the E.I. is perceived full of life whereas the E.M. is perceived cold and not approachable emotionally…

***

Quotes:

The Criteria of Emotional Maturity: The ability to deal constructively with reality The capacity to adapt to change A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness The capacity to sublimate, to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets The capacity to love.

William C. Menninger

*

Maturity is achieved when a person postpones immediate pleasures for long-term values.

Joshua L. Liebman

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Emotional maturity is the ability to stick to a job and to struggle through until it is finished, to endure unpleasantness, discomfort and frustration.

Edward Adam Strecker

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Part of spiritual and emotional maturity is recognizing that it’s not like you’re going to try to fix yourself and become a different person. You remain the same person, but you become awakened.

Jack Kornfield

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