ERP 418: How To Build More Emotional Maturity In Relationship — Part Five

By Posted in - Podcast April 2nd, 2024 0 Comments

Emotional immaturity can hinder our ability to form healthy connections and make sound decisions. But is it truly possible to overcome emotional immaturity, even if you’ve experienced significant developmental setbacks or challenges?

Similar to research findings that suggest it’s possible to develop more secure functioning or earn a secure attachment style later in life, it’s feasible to achieve emotional growth and maturity.

In our fifth installment on the topic of emotional immaturity, we uncover practical strategies and insights to foster emotional growth. With a focus on seven key practices, including creating a safe space for growth and honing interpersonal skills, the discussion offers a roadmap for enhancing emotional intelligence.

If you find yourself in a relationship with someone exhibiting signs of emotional immaturity, it’s crucial to consider revisiting the recommendations outlined in episode 416. Engaging in heartfelt, candid conversations with your partner about the importance of cultivating emotional maturity can pave the way for mutual understanding and growth within the relationship.

In this Episode

6:48 A recap of the previous episodes on emotional maturity.

9:13 The dynamic nature of emotional maturity highlights its placement on a continuum that allows for growth and development.

14:21 Establishing a safe practice environment.

21:28 Embracing emotional awareness and connection.

26:39 Accepting emotional growth as a continuous process

31:30 Cultivating conscious regulation skills.

36:12 The importance of engaging in honest and uncomfortable conversations

41:44 Taking ownership and accountability within relationships.

45:19 Cultivating interpersonal and relational proficiency.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Develop and maintain a safe practice ground for emotional growth.
  • Accept and build a connection with your emotions.
  • Understand that emotional development is a gradual process.
  • Learn conscious regulation skills to manage your nervous system.
  • Engage in honest and uncomfortable conversations to address emotional issues.
  • Take ownership and accountability for your emotions and actions.
  • Build interpersonal and relational skills to improve communication and understanding.
  • Set boundaries to protect your emotional well-being and foster healthier relationships.

Mentioned

Signs of Emotional Immaturity: How to Identify and Support People with Emotional Immaturity

Emotions as Honored Guests (article)

The Value in Pain and the Pain in Value | Lode Dewulf | TEDxVlerickBusinessSchool

ERP 276: Understanding the Need for Both Self-Regulation and Co-regulation in Relationship – An Interview with Deb Dana

ERP 261: How to Strengthen Your Relationship from a Polyvagal Perspective – An Interview with Dr. Stephen Porges

ERP 140: How Pain and Suffering Increase & What to Do About It

ERP 410: What Are the Signs of Emotional Immaturity in Relationship?

ERP 411: What Are the Signs of Emotional Immaturity in Relationship? Part Two

ERP 413: How Does Emotional Immaturity Develop & the Difference between Emotional Immaturity and Emotional Abuse? Part Three

ERP 416: What to Consider If You Are in a Relationship with an Emotionally Immature Person — Part Four

Relationship Map To Happy, Lasting Love

Connect with Dr. Jessica Higgins

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Email: [email protected]

About Today’s Show

Let’s get started in today’s episode. Before we go into the content of today’s episode, I want to acknowledge that I had said I would be releasing this episode last week. So this episode was supposed to be 417, and it’s 418. So I apologize for the delay, I also appreciate your patience. On a side note, I think some of you may know that my husband and I have been in quite a journey this last year and a half, and we hopefully are winding down our exploration and search for potentially relocating, and all that has gone into this process. I just want to reassure you that I am so deeply committed to supporting you as a listener here on the Empowered Relationship Podcast, as well as all the work that I am doing with my coaching clients and all that I’m offering to you in other ways. So I just want you to feel that for me, as I acknowledge a delay here. 

Okay, again, the topic here is how to build more emotional maturity in relationship. As a reminder, this is the fifth episode of a series around emotional immaturity. If you missed the previous episodes, I want to encourage you to check those out. 410 and 411, which are part one and part two of what are the signs of emotional immaturity in relationship: looking at the signs and characteristics, how this exists on a continuum, and building the awareness around the importance of emotional development, and so much more. 413 is looking at the differences between emotional immaturity and emotional abuse. Not all emotionally immature behaviors are abusive, however, there is overlap. 416 is looking at the experience of someone in relationship with an emotionally immature partner, and how to evaluate if the relationship is workable or not. 

Today, we’re going to be looking at both how to overcome emotional immaturity and how to build emotional maturity in relationship. So let’s here start with how to overcome emotional immaturity. Some people may be even asking themselves throughout this series, is it even possible to overcome this if one is severely stunted or has been grossly underdeveloped? Now, again, this exists on a continuum. I will say, much of what we talked about in the last episode, 416, on the topic, give some scope around, is someone interested, are they aware? That that will help in assisting, is there a possibility for the relationship to be workable? But in a nutshell, yes, it is possible to develop more emotional intelligence and build emotional maturity. I believe we’re all on this path, myself included, in constantly looking at how to increase my ability to both be in touch with my experience and what that means, as well as how to relate with my husband around the emotional tension or difficulties, or even expanding our capacity for more love and intimacy, both. 

What’s reassuring is that we can look at the research, as it relates to the attachment research, in that it is possible to develop more secure functioning or earn a secure attachment style, even later in life. Especially if one did not grow up with the circumstances that afforded this more secure relating in a secure attachment. Neuroscience helps us understand that we are always developing new neural pathways if we’re in the experience of learning and growing, and that our brains and the capacity for what’s called neuroplasticity, that’s the change that can occur in the brain. I will also say that if one is more stuck in their habits, or their routines, or perhaps stuck in addictive patterns or using substances, that may interfere with the growth process. Similarly, if someone is interested in building self-awareness, they’re willing and they’re engaging in a process, taking action and taking steps to improve, that’s going to help their growth process.

Again, if you are in relationship with someone who shows signs of emotional immaturity, please again, if you will, revisit the recommendations from Episode 416. As you will want to possibly have an honest, heartfelt conversation with your significant other about developing more emotional maturity and what that would mean to you. You also would likely want to build some support in your couple system, whether or not it’s having practices or curriculum to work with or a structure to help build these new skills. Because likely, if there’s any level of history, and those patterns are strong, and you’re going to want to build some new habits and new patterns together. 

Throughout this series, I’ve focused primarily on emotional immaturity, and again, today’s episode is focusing more on emotional maturity. Likely, one could just take the converse of everything we’ve already discussed and replace that, likely to have a pretty good description of what emotional maturity is. However, I think it’s helpful for us to dispel some of this out. So referencing the article How to identify and support people with emotional immaturity by Angelica Bottaro, and medically reviewed by Stephanie Hartselle, MD. They write: “Emotional maturity is when a person has the skills to react to situations appropriately and can control their emotions. Emotionally mature people behave in an adult-like manner in all situations in which they are dealing with other people.” 

Now, if you recall, one of the definitions of emotional immaturity, and one of the pieces of that was that someone will be behaving in more child-like ways. So it’s almost as if their emotional reactivity or their behaviors that are more emotional, as it relates to whatever the situation is, will seem much younger than their chronological age. They also write: “Emotional maturity is a person’s ability to manage their emotions and behaviors in a healthy manner.” So this is the ability to process their feelings, acknowledge what’s happening for them, be able to communicate to others in a more healthy, productive manner. They also say: “Emotional maturity helps us resolve conflicts, and have satisfying and secure relationships.” They also list signs of emotional maturity, which include: having empathy, recognizing and sharing feelings, being flexible and open-minded, maintaining healthy relationships, taking responsibility for actions and accepting the consequences of behaviors, setting healthy boundaries, seeking to resolve conflicts, and managing stress. 

Now, I wanted to flesh out a little bit more so I can offer you more practices of ways to develop more emotional maturity. Again, emotionally mature people tend to engage in self-reflection, taking responsibility for their actions. Again, this is a repeat here. Having flexibility and being more adaptable in their personality, being able to navigate the world with minimal detrimental consequences, so that when things are changing or not going the way that they want, that they can pivot, respond, and adapt, rather than getting really stuck.

So let’s look at I have seven practices to offer you. Again, this is in no means a comprehensive total list, but giving you some structure to perhaps work with if this is something you’re interested in focusing on. Number one, develop, and then also maintain, a safe practice ground. Now, anytime we engage in developing a skill, sometimes it can be incredibly awkward, uncomfortable. It can even feel vulnerable to feel inadequate, or perhaps even this feeling of unable, not having the skill; we can feel just at a loss and out of our comfort zone. I remember when I was becoming more interested in developing my volleyball skills. Now I know this isn’t at all necessarily comparative, as far as an example. But I can recall, really having great desire to have more skills. The way that I learned was just through what they might call scrap ball or just jungle ball. There was really no skill, it’s just you’re getting out there and you’re playing. It’s fun, but there’s really no fundamental skills. I mean, maybe a few, but not really, technically correct. So learning a lot of bad habits. I remember being so visible. It was one-on-one coaching, and one of the things he was really encouraging, I don’t even think it had to do with me specifically, I think it’s something he just did across the board, was just welcoming a safe practice ground. That it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to feel awkward, it’s okay to feel uncomfortable, and that part of learning is getting outside of the comfort zone. Easier said than done, and especially when the stakes are high, and something means a lot to us, it can be very, very difficult to take that risk. 

So one of the first recommendations here is, however you can devise a safe practice ground, whether or not it’s building some inner self-talk around compassion and kindness, being gentle with yourself. Now, out of the gate, it may be helpful to engage with a coach or a therapist, that they’re going to be able to hold a container with you. They’re going to be able to provide this safety to begin to explore, that you can lean into this skill or the support of a guiding professional to explore your inner world in more of this gentle, non-judgmental, compassionate way. Now, if you can access this for yourself, I think that is great, and I would work with that. But just to build on that. Begin to repeat this more of to yourself, whether or not you have a little bit of a mantra, or you have some supportive quotes, or if it’s something you journal about or listen to, whatever is going to assist in this encouraging and supportive climate or environment. 

Another helpful consideration is to perhaps look at the expectations that you have of yourself in this arena. Quite possibly, just to give yourself lots of room and lots of space to go slow, to do it in a paced way so you’re not trying to accomplish too much at once, and that giving yourself some doable steps so that you’re not expecting such a result so quickly. If you think about the patterns that you’ve developed over a certain amount of time, those tendencies may feel strong, and there’s likely really good reason why you do what you do or have done what you’ve done, and that there’s a protective quality to that. So this is where the therapeutic support may be extremely helpful. Because if there’s any past history, whether or not it’s trauma, or not getting safe responsiveness as it relates to emotions, this might be scary to confront. So when we look at safe practice ground, we’re not going to do something that feels unsafe. So getting the support will likely be helpful, if not necessary. 

Another supportive tool can be engaging in a process group. Or I’ve actually heard, many people have success, just beginning, if you work in a corporation or you are working in a large organization or in a position of leadership, likely they have emotional intelligence trainings or workshops. So that can be a good way to start even contemplating some of these skills as it relates to developing emotionally. Perhaps even engaging, there’s men’s groups, women’s groups, or if you’re part of a faith-based organization, sometimes they’ll have groups that are support groups for various topics, or just even again, process groups, and likely there will be an emotional aspect to that. Again, just having some more support and safety around practicing. This will likely feel like uncharted territory, and to feel supported. It’s sometimes wee too much to ask to just start to approach something that we’ve not been comfortable to do up until this point. 

Number two, accept and build connection with your emotions. Oh, it reminds me, there was this old poem or quote. I’ll do my best. I know I cited it on an early episode, now we’re at 418. So this might be one of the first 10 episodes where I described, and maybe even read, it’s titled Emotions As an Honored House Guest, I’ll see if I can find it and put it on today’s show notes. But in an essence, if we imagine our emotions as a guest, and we’re the house, that it’s like a part of ourselves, the emotions are the guest. Now, if they’re trying to get in and they want to come, and we say no, you can’t get in, and we’re locking all the doors and closing all the windows, that they might break in and make a mess of things and tear things apart. However, if we welcome them, give them a seat at the table and listen and hear what’s happening, the wisdom and the understanding that’s there, it’s a totally different relationship, to see our emotions as having value, as having importance.

 Even if one attempts to override their emotional sensation, their feelings, the system doesn’t stop working; we just essentially wall off our connection to them. Hence, we perhaps limit the information that we’re operating with. And when we look at humans, and the way of functioning and relating, much of the information that’s being conveyed very quickly is through the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the nonverbals. I think we say 80 plus percent of communication is nonverbal, which directly ties to people’s emotional state. 

Free A Couple's Sweet Moments Together in the Kitchen Stock Photo

“Emotions, in a lot of ways, is one of the primary sources of getting information about others and what’s happening in the dynamic; are they okay, are they not okay, what are they wanting, what are they needing, what are their preferences.”

Now, a lot of this is happening below the field of awareness, it’s just happening automatically. But as we bring attention to the value and importance of emotion, we can see that if we are more aligned, more congruent, more in touch with our emotions, we can be that much more coherent and clear when we relate to others. 

I appreciate that this is easier said than done, especially if you have been taught or told or modeled that emotions are dangerous, they’re irrational, they’re a sign of weakness. So giving importance to emotion at all, or that it could strengthen relationships or help us feel more aligned in our life or help us with healing or experience more health and vitality, might just feel like a fantasy. Or that we might get it intellectually, but have no real way to access. This is where, again, I think a real helpful coach, therapist would be extremely supportive. One of the things that could come from that professional relationship is a corrective experience, a felt sense of relating to others and showing emotions in a way that feels reparative. Like, this is a new experience that gives a template to work from.

As we look at this second recommendation here, to accept and build connection with your emotions, sometimes people can come into greater contact or start to understand their experience and their emotions through other forms, whether or not it’s art, or whether or not it’s journaling, or dance, or any other creative outlet that helps one get in touch with their feeling, their experience, and give expression to it. People sometimes find a lot of value through reading. I’ll recommend a book here by Dr. Mark Brackett, [Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive]. Part of this process of giving expression or through journaling, and having a voice to it, whether or not it’s with a friend or a process group or a therapist or coach, that we are able to acknowledge and start to understand and see how it matters, and even possibly some self-validation. That this does make sense, it does matter, and to hold that with, again, some of that value in regard. 

Number three, understand it is a growth process. With any developmental process or growth process, there’s a sequence of developing more competency. I can’t recall the model, but I’ll try to find it and put it on today’s show notes. Essentially, if I remember correctly, there were four phases of this developing competency, and it really had to do with our awareness as well as our competency. I think the example I used in a previous podcast was driving a vehicle. That in one’s early life, they’re not even aware that they’re not competent, that they don’t know how to drive. Then at some point, they are aware that they don’t know how to drive. Then as they learn, they’re not competent, and as they gain skill, they recognize they’re gaining competence. Then at some point, it becomes automatic; they’re not even recognizing that they’re driving. This is, sadly, sometimes people drive in autopilot, especially when they’re going the same route all the time, that they can drive without even really being super-conscious. 

Free Man Wearing Blue Shirt Kissing Woman in Pink Tank Top Stock Photo

“There’s a bit of a process here of developing competency. And when we look at emotions, some of us may not even know that we’ve not been operating with a tremendous amount of emotional intelligence.”

So with the developmental process, some of what I was even saying in the first point, which is developing a safe practice ground, that with any developmental process, knowing learning is not about being perfect, that this might actually help when we look at that we are needing to make mistakes to learn, and that we want to have a growth mindset. That it’s about having more of an open mind, focusing on the learning opportunities; what can this teach me, what can I gain from this experience, what insights, what new understandings, what new solutions. If we have that open mind and that flexible thinking we’re more likely to approach a situation and feel the growth and the learning. Versus, why is this happening, this is so problematic, this isn’t a good fit, something’s wrong with me. There’s lots of ways that we can get really stuck in more of that rigid thinking, or all-or-nothing or black-or-white thinking. So having that growth mindset, again, looking at the learning not perfection. This may help with some of the shame. I think I mentioned in a previous episode. Sometimes people who really struggle with this emotional maturity have felt a lot of internalized pain and have felt some level of shame or even self-loathing. So it can be difficult to recognize and give space for developing, because it’s so closely tied to the fear of not being enough or not being good enough. Again, this is where a real helping professional can assist. 

Having a growth mindset will also be helpful when things don’t appear to be going well, or don’t go as anticipated, or maybe even feel like they’re going wrong. That we will be able to adapt, perhaps even pivot, or just be in a place of acceptance and have some realistic meeting of what is. Rather than, perhaps having a strong reaction, or feeling as though everything’s turned to crap. That’s hard, to feel like one can generate solutions from this place of doomsday. So if we can have more of that open-minded growth mindset, look at the learning, be curious, have some non-judgmental space, have inquiry; how can I look at this from a different perspective, some of these questions can be really helpful to generate more of that non-judgmental space. The thing I want to also mention here that relates to the second point, is just to be in a regular practice of self-awareness, and again, focused on learning. If we’re in this repetitive practice, then likely we’ll be able to access this when things don’t go well, or be able to have more of this growth mindset attitude readily available. 

Number four, learn conscious regulation skills. Part of being human is that every day we are having our nervous system responding to various stimuli, whether or not we’re driving and perhaps someone honks, or we hear a siren, likely, we will feel some activation. Now that’s a simple example, but perhaps there’s many examples in any given day. When we look at intimate relationship, again, what’s at stake, likely we’re going to respond, and it’s going to feel more threatening when things get tense or perhaps even off-track. So if we can start to build more awareness around our nervous system, when we’re reacting, when perhaps we can benefit from more regulation. Because if we’re not at all in that window of tolerance, and if you don’t know that term, I would encourage you to look it up. I’m happy to give some more insight. I believe I did an episode on that, I will also make a note to put that on today’s show notes as well. I do believe there’s some content for you to reference. So if we’re out of the window of tolerance, we are essentially operating offline; we don’t have all of our faculties to utilize, and we’re operating from a very primal place. In which we’re not thinking clearly, perhaps we’re not going to say or do things in a way that is in alignment with how we want to be, and it’s more out of that reactionary place or that very primal place. That can be aggressive, that can be competitive, that can feel regressed. So we do have an opportunity to regulate, so that we can engage more skillfully. 

Deb Dana does a wonderful job of giving us a lot of assistance and skills. One of the books that she wrote, Befriending Your Nervous System: Looking Through the Lens of Polyvagal Theory. Also another book, Anchored: How to Befriend Your Nervous System Using Polyvagal Theory. I’ll put both of those links on today’s show notes. I’ll also put the episode where she was a guest on the Empowered Relationship Podcast. Essentially, she’s helping us understand that even her as a teacher of this, and having practiced this for the majority of her career, I think it’s over 20 years she has been working side by side with Stephen Porges and helping people understand what’s going on inside their nervous system and how to help get into that more window of tolerance. She’s saying, I in a day will get out of the window of tolerance several times. 

Free Couple Smiling at Each Other while Holding Hands  Stock Photo

“It’s not so much about trying to not get dysregulated or not have reaction. It’s about getting into the driver’s seat, befriending the nervous system, helping assist the nervous system into more regulation.”

I know the Gottmans, in their research, they talk about, just even 20 minutes can help calm the nervous system if we’re engaging in something that is more calming. So if you notice you’re getting defensive or feeling like you’re getting upset in an interaction with your significant other, perhaps just saying: “Look, I noticed I’m starting to get activated, or I’m starting to feel triggered. Can we just take a half an hour and come back? This means a lot to me, I want us to resolve this, and I also feel like I’m losing my ability to really be with you and listen. I feel defensive. So I just want to take a quick walk, or perhaps I want to listen to some music, or I want to take a hot bath.” Whatever it is to help calm could really help give a little more ground to this regulation. Because once we’re in a more regulated place, we’re going to be in a much better state to deal with situations more calmly and have all of our faculties online. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say: “Oh, I don’t even know what happened. I was doing and saying things that I regret, and I didn’t even want to say, I don’t believe, and I just was reacting.” Or some people might even say: “I saw red, and I kind of lost myself.” And what happens out of those places is likely not going to be very constructive or productive. 

Number five, having honest and uncomfortable conversations. Gay and Katy Hendricks, they run the Hendricks Institute. I remember years and years ago, I want to say 20 years, I came across their terminology, and had a sweaty 10-minute conversation. They are huge proponents of what they would call inarguable truths. This is getting into contact with the body sensations, the felt emotion, and this is on a deeper layer—the more vulnerable, primary core emotions. When we can get in touch with that and then perhaps reveal or share that with our significant other or someone else that we care deeply about, this can feel like a confrontation. 

Free Woman in Green Top Lying on a Man's Chest in Bed Stock Photo

“If we can have the courage and the bravery to have these sweaty 10-minute conversations, or even what a lot of people reference as hard conversations, difficult conversations, that this gives the opportunity to build more connection, more closeness; what’s on the other side of those conversations is typically what we’re after. When we avoid them, it typically creates wedges of withholding, projecting, assuming, and distancing.”

Now granted, we won’t choose to do this with everyone, for sure. There’s going to be an inner circle, the people that you’re closest to, most intimate with, likely your significant other if you’re in partnership or married. That you want to practice, you want to cultivate a deeper sense of emotional intimacy and bondedness, and knowing one another and being able to trust one another. There’s a way to do this, of course. When we want to have a dialogue or set up a conversation, there’s a way to do this. I’ll put a link to an article that gives some structure to this. Some of this, I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s very common. There’s a lot of similar recommendations that people will offer. Finding a time to talk where people are calm, regulated, available, and then also how to structure that conversation so both people have an opportunity, and it’s more about seeking to understand. Having a level of openness, being curious. Hopefully with that ability to engage in this conversation, we can practice maybe even some empathy. Again, I’ll put the link on today’s show notes to that article. I’ll also put a link to Harville Hendricks and Helen Hunt’s Imago dialogue structure, where they’ve done a lot to provide support for these safe conversations. 

I want to note a little bit more on the practicing empathy. When we can be in a place of slowing down, not having to defend or protect our position, and we can be in a place of listening, deeply listening to the other, seeking, again, to understand what things are like for the other person. Sometimes when I’m doing this, I’m listening, and sometimes I’m like, I don’t understand, but I’m trying to understand. I use the kind of phrase of: “If it were me, this is what it would feel like.” Or I’m entertaining, based on what I know and what my husband is sharing, I really try to put myself in that perspective that gives me a little bit more insight. Or perhaps I just have to stay really, really curious until something emerges. I also try to understand what is it that he’s feeling here, what’s going on for him emotionally. I try to be in service of how it makes sense, rather than trying to persuade him to feel or think differently, but more try to really understand his perspective. Because if we can give space for self and other, and this is practice the empathy for both positions, likely, there can be a more softened place and goodwill, that with that understanding, and maybe it takes several conversations to get more of that understanding. Oh, I can remember many topics, and my husband, a couple of them took years to actually get to a place of real understanding. Because either one of us weren’t clear, or perhaps there was too much conflict around it, and these were big ticket items, for sure. But until we got to this place of really understanding and really being for each other, that then we could come up with mutually beneficial solutions. This is where we become more allies working together as a team and building connection, that we want what matters most to the other. 

Number six, take ownership and accountability. Now, ideally, we may be in the practice of this across the board. Because if we can be in greater contact with our emotions and our experience and what we’re needing, then we are going to be able to look at how our behaviors support that, and where our limits are, where our boundaries are, so that we can recognize where we want to engage and where we don’t want to engage. 

Free Two Men Smiling in the Kitchen Stock Photo

“Sometimes when we have great issue with someone and their behavior, if we take a moment to really look at how am I participating in that dynamic, we can recognize, perhaps I’m playing a role; I have my part here. So if I can really take responsibility and take ownership, that allows me to have opportunity to grow.”

And yes, it does impact the relationship, and hopefully, in a positive way, that what is growthful individually is also growthful for the relationship. But some of that is unknown. It’s not a guarantee, and it’s a risk. But if we don’t take ownership and accountability, we likely may enter into that more victim mindset, that my partner is doing this to me, or they’re making me feel a certain way. Taking ownership and accountability can be really powerful for the relational dynamic. 

Now, this has a couple of layers to it, but one of which is, when we can acknowledge where we have fell short or made a mistake or didn’t follow through, it gives ground; it gives a real place to work from. But when one is defending, denying, dismissing, and it’s almost as if like, where is our foundation, where’s our ground? I thought we had an agreement or I thought we had an understanding, and then it puts a lot of things up into question. Or how come you’re unable to see this? Then the person may have a lot of questions around do you care, and this is where it all gets really tricky and off-track, and the cycle can really create a lot of disconnection here. So when we can acknowledge, it gives that ground, it gives repair, it gives some place to work from. Also, similarly, when we can take ownership and responsibility, we can ask for help when needed, and we’re also in a position that we can share our struggles and vulnerabilities with others. 

Now, I recognize, a lot of what I have already spoken to, that development may need to occur before taking responsibility and ownership. Because if one doesn’t feel a sense of goodness inside themselves, or that their emotional experience is valid and is important, and they haven’t had the experience of that, this is likely not going to feel safe to go towards, taking responsibility. Because it’s going to feel like activating that shame spiral and not enoughness. 

Number seven, build more interpersonal skills and relational skills. Now all of this goes hand in hand, and I would even say much of the episodes on the Empowered Relationship Podcast are intended to build interpersonal skills and relational skills. So again, a lot of this is interconnected, and this relates to the communication, as I’ve already spoken to. This might mean: what are my needs, what are my preferences, what’s my experience? Am I willing to have conversations around these things, so that there’s more intimacy, there’s more knowing? Engaging in active listening, asking open-ended questions, really being in this place of attuning and seeking to understand, and just wanting more information. Can you tell me more? It might start with: how did you, in what way, tell me about, what is it like? There are many great tools and resources that assist with deepening in these dialogues. I have an upcoming episode, which I’m very excited to share with you, about attending to this deeper listening, and stay tuned for that. 

So as we talk about building more interpersonal skills, also addressing challenges, differences, or even conflicts, proactively. When we keep avoiding, now, one way of looking at avoiding is actually to regulate. 

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“If we’re too overwhelmed, or if it’s too scary, avoiding can be a way of regulating the nervous system, ironically. Yet, long-term, likely that will create more challenges, more problems.”

 When we avoid the conflict, we’re not actually resolving anything, and things tend to either stay the same or get worse. So we are limited relationally when we avoid these difficulties. I’ve already mentioned a bit, but setting boundaries is another interpersonal skill, relational skill. When we can recognize our limits, we’re in a much better place of taking care of ourselves, recognizing what we want to participate in and what we don’t want to participate in, and really having regard for one’s sense of self and our partners well-being. 

One way of viewing boundaries is allowing your significant other to know the shape of you; making visible what matters to you, what you want, what you don’t want, and that contact. Being able to see both your boundaries, and also your partner’s, allows for deeper regard, deeper respect, deeper care, that that is part of the interrelating. Sometimes when we aren’t in touch with our limits, we can give too much, or perhaps feel intruded upon or over-extended, and it can get really complicated; we can feel resentful, we can feel frustrated, we can feel shut down hopeless, there’s a whole host of things that we can feel. But if, conversely, we’re in a practice of being in contact with what’s true, making that more visible, and also being in service of understanding our significant other, what’s true for them and their experience, and then the ability to work together. This is where that trust, that emotional connection. This is where the research really helps us understand. This is the glue. This is what typically matters most in relating, is that we’re both responded to, we’re feeling understood, we’re feeling that goodwill, that care, that regard. This is where partners build that trust, that faith, that confidence, that in their connection, they can address what arises that might be difficult in a productive manner and come up with solutions, feel closer, feel more intimate. This often is what contributes to a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and the longevity of a healthy lasting relationship. 

In summary, the seven ways that one can practice more emotional maturity is, number one, develop and maintain a safe practice ground. Number two, accept and build connection with your emotions. Number three, understand it is a growth process. Number four, learn conscious regulation skills, that’s nervous system regulation. Number five, have honest and uncomfortable conversations. Number six, take ownership and accountability. Number seven, build more interpersonal skills, that’s relational skills. 

Thank you so much for listening. It’s an honor and a privilege to spend this time with you. I have the utmost regard for your interest in developing and growing, and I am with you in the path of growing and developing.

Until next time, I hope you take great care.

Signing Off

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Dr. Jessica Higgins ~ Relationship and Transformational Coaching