Everyone grows and matures at their own pace. Some of us mature quickly, while the process can be a slow burn for others. Regardless, we need not judge anyone’s level of maturity. Sometimes we wish for the people in our lives to be more mature, especially when their behavior has become frustrating. Still, we must remind ourselves that we cannot force someone to grow up. Usually, the mistakes of immaturity and the loss of people and relationships are just part of the maturing process. So, if you are wondering how to be more mature, keep reading.
What Does It Mean to Be Mature?
Do not confuse age with maturity. Children and adolescents can show marked signs of maturity, while older adults can display a distinct lack thereof. Maturity is about growing up, but age is the least relevant factor. Real maturity is in the emotional and psychological aspects. You can dress smart, drive a nice car, and work at a high-paying job, and still possess less maturity without any of these things. Real maturity shows up in how we choose to live our lives. It is about managing our expectations of ourselves and others, how we treat other people, and how we choose to spend our time and energy.
Signs of Maturity
There is no universal measure of maturity. However, there are some common characteristics of maturity, such as:
- Confident body language
- Openness to change
- Embracing challenges
- Non-judgment of others
- Ability to forgive (self and others)
- Personal accountability
- Healthy boundaries
- Embracing uncertainty
- Discipline and self-control
- Focus on one’s own life, not the gossip, and drama of others
Can You Become More Mature?
Do not fret even if you do not feel as mature as you could be right now. We all grow and mature at our own pace—do not waste time and energy comparing yourself to others. The very fact that you are reading this article suggests that you sense the importance of being a mature person. Perhaps immaturity has harmed your life, and you do not want to make the same mistakes again, or maybe you understand that you can live a much more meaningful and fulfilling life by working on your emotional and psychological maturity.
Either way, if you are actively seeking to educate yourself on becoming a more mature person, you are on the right track. Below, we have included a list of tips and advice on doing it. Once again, bear in mind that you will grow at your own pace. A snake does not shed its skin until it is completely and naturally ready to do so.
So, as you practice the following, remember to be patient with yourself. You might, and probably will, make some mistakes along the way, and progress might be slow at times. But with the right mindset, you can use all of your experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, as valuable life lessons.
How To Be More Mature: 12 Effective Ways
1. Manage Your Expectations
Expectations on approaching and managing them are a hallmark sign of maturity. Expectations refer to how you want your life to be and how others should treat you. It is okay to have some expectations, such as basic respect, but it is essential to check that your expectations are realistic and fair. For example, many of us place unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
We might want to start a new business, reach a fitness goal, save a certain amount of money, or have our own family by a certain age. These are reasonable goals, but how we treat ourselves and react when things do not go according to plan says how mature we are. We might want to eliminate all negative thoughts and only have positive ones, but that is not what it means to be human.
Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. It is beautifully imperfect, but it also means that it can be hard to predict. Sometimes you do not have the energy to meet your goals on a given day. Occasionally other people let us down, a global pandemic occasionally occurs, and your movement is restricted.
When things do not go to plan, and we do not achieve what we want, we can fall into the trap of thinking that we are not good enough, not productive enough, or an outright failure. We feel like we should treat ourselves poorly because it motivates us to succeed next time, but that is not the case. Instead, we do not meet our expectations, and then we wallow and contemplate everything that went wrong. We focus on all the negative thoughts and perspectives and rarely give ourselves a break to reflect and treat ourselves with compassion and forgiveness.
Expectations and Relationships
We also expect a lot from others, and often unknowingly. Relationships are a prime example. The early days of most relationships are the honeymoon phase, where both partners are head over heels for each other and see each other as perfect. Later, as they grow closer and more familiar with each other, expectations may arise. One partner expects the other to be there emotionally all the time, but the other partner needs a break. It is nothing personal, but the first partner’s expectations are not being met, so they react negatively.
Mature relationships, including the one you have with yourself, are those in which you let go of expectations. You focus on the here and now and remind yourself often that nobody is there to meet your needs all the time. Of course, there are some reasonable expectations, such as going the extra mile to look after a child or sharing some financial responsibilities for your family. You can voluntarily meet your own or another person’s needs, but a mature person is grateful when that happens. They appreciate that their partner does not have to meet their needs and can enjoy the cherry on top when they meet them anyway.
When it comes to your self-relationship, maturity looks like forgiveness and compassion when things do not go your way. It is not about scolding and criticizing yourself, but instead treating yourself with the love and kindness you would offer to your best friend.
2. Be Accountable
Personal accountability is a hallmark characteristic of maturity. It involves understanding where your responsibilities lie, as well as where they do not. It means accepting responsibility for those things within your control and willfully and compassionately apologizing when you do not keep them up.
Mature people are personally accountable. They do not take comfort in shirking their responsibilities, blaming others when things go wrong, or pushing down complicated feelings and emotions. Instead, they recognize and accept their responsibilities, practice honesty and authenticity with themselves and others, and embrace life’s challenges because they know that that is the key to growth, wisdom, health, and happiness.
3. Be Open and Curious
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown-up.”C.S. Lewis
One of the tragedies of adulthood is that, in an attempt to create a mature character of ourselves, we give up on our sense of innocence, lightness, and play. We ignore childish things and think that acting or even thinking with a child’s playfulness and vivacity is immature. It is not.
Part of real maturity is understanding that your inner child and his or her view of the world is valid and can be used to cultivate fun and joy in your adult life.
4. Loosen Up
How many people do you know who claim to be mature are just stiff in their behavior? How many people take life far too seriously and go to great lengths to maintain a false image of maturity to the detriment of their lightness and ability to have fun? There is no material sign of maturity—not a car, a watch, or a business suit. As mentioned earlier, it is emotional and psychological. Truly mature people accept their childish nature, integrate it into their adult lives, and do not suppress or deny it.
5. Do Good Deeds for the Sake of It
When you make sacrifices for others, when you go the extra mile to help someone out, or when you lend a compassionate ear or hand, do it from the kindness of your heart. Do it because you feel that helping is the right, wise, and mature thing to do at that moment, not because you expect something in return. Sometimes, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are acting for the benefit of others. However, if we only do it because we want something in return, it is less an act of altruism and more like a transaction.
6. Help Yourself…but also collaborate with others
Helplessness is a sign of immaturity. It can also manifest as a symptom of mental health issues. Still, helplessness is most often a learned state. We witness it in a caregiver or other adult’s behavior when we are children and take it on as a maladaptive coping behavior in times of stress. A distinct sign of maturity recognizes that you can help yourself in times of stress and need. That does not mean being completely self-reliant and never asking or receiving support from others. We are social creatures, and we are hardwired to rely on and support each other through healthy interdependence.
Overcoming helplessness is more about releasing the belief that you are inherently stuck or that things cannot possibly get better. Instead of reaching out for help when you need it, you do something within your control that will serve your greater good and allows you to understand and accept that reality changes everything.
7. Focus On Personal Growth
Mature people prioritize their personal growth and development. This is one of the primary differences between mature and immature people. Mature people focus on upskilling and improving their relationships, being healthier, and living more meaningful and fulfilling lives. In contrast, immature people are more likely to focus on trivial news, gossip, other people’s success, or lack thereof.
By turning your focus, attention, and passion to things that will make you a better person, you create meaning in your life. Most of us have faced a mild existential crisis at one point or another about what we are doing in this life—if there is any point to it. Mature people generally understand that the point to life, its whole meaning, is to create a purpose for yourself.
8. Apply Your Time and Energy to Yourself
Once you grasp that connection, you start to realize the way you choose to spend your time and energy is crucial. You can spend time talking about others, comparing yourself, or complaining, or you can spend the precious time you have on earth to keep growing, developing, and becoming a more conscious and loving person through service to others and positive action.
9. Practice Forgiveness
“The willingness to forgive is a sign of spiritual and emotional maturity. It is one of the great virtues to which we all should aspire. Imagine a world filled with individuals willing both to apologize and to accept an apology.”Gordon B. Hinckley
Forgiveness is a strong indicator of maturity. It is not always easy, and sometimes people can betray our trust so deeply that the idea of forgiving them seems far-fetched. Sometimes we let ourselves down because we did not follow through with a promise and think we need to criticize and berate ourselves. After all, self-forgiveness would sometimes go too easy on us.
However, when we hold onto grudges, we do more damage to ourselves—mental, emotional, and even our physical health, than if we could let go of that grudge, forgive and move on. Understand that forgiveness is not the same as tolerating unfair behavior or allowing it to happen again. A mature person can forgive someone and still choose to discontinue their relationship. You can forgive yourself but still commit to growth through awareness, learning from your mistakes, and discipline.
10. Set Goals
Goal-setting does not need to be all or nothing—it is okay to try your best and still make mistakes. The most important thing is that you practice learning those lessons rather than using your failures and shortcomings to affirm that you are bound to fail or are not good enough. Mature behavior sets goals to help you get from where you are now to a place of more groundedness, clarity, fulfillment, and overall healthier well-being. It comes from a growth-oriented mindset, not from improving because you feel like you are not good enough now.
The more you set goals, which can even be small goals like cooking dinner for yourself today or waking up 30 minutes earlier than usual, you build self-confidence and self-esteem. You learn that you are capable and that you are not helpless. Such realizations and discoveries help you make a more mature approach to living your life rather than expecting failure and a lack of self-discipline.
11. Embrace the Unknown
“Maturity, one discovers, has everything to do with the acceptance of ‘not knowing.”Mark Z. Danielewski
How often do you scramble for control when things do not seem to go your way? How often do you treat conversation as a game in which you need to ‘win’ or at least prove yourself to another person? As humans, we typically fear the unknown. We cannot stand not knowing what someone else thinks of us. We feel agitated when we cannot see how the future will run out.
Worrying about the unknown is an attempt to control, but mature people realize that we cannot know some things and that only time will tell. They prioritize their energy to not waste it on anticipating the unknown. Instead, spend their energy cultivating joy, passion, and connection to be found in the known, such as relationships with themselves and their loved ones, their passions, and their creative pursuits.
12. Set Boundaries
Healthy boundary setting is not only a sign of maturity—it is a technique to help you get there. Boundaries are barriers between your time and energy and that of others. They prevent unwarranted energy from occupying your space, such as emotional dumping, passive aggression, and narcissistic abuse. They help you assert yourself and prioritize your well-being over meeting others’ needs first.
It Is Okay to Say “No.”
We sometimes find it hard to set boundaries or simply say “no” to others from a tendency to please people. We want to help others and fear being rude or inconsiderate if we do not. Part of maturity realizes that this is not the case. You cannot show up for yourself and those you love as fully, lovingly, and wholeheartedly when you put others’ wants and needs before your own. Setting boundaries is a means of keeping yourself healthy so you can do even greater service to yourself and others in the long term.
Sometimes you might like to blame others. Sometimes you might not want to go to work but instead, pull the covers over your head when the alarm goes off. Sometimes you might lack discipline and put your goals on the back burner. Still, as long as you can give yourself a break, allow for your imperfections, and make a conscious effort to practice maturity as much as you reasonably can, you are on the right track. Over time it will become progressively easier, and you will make mature choices without even realizing it.