If there’s one thing that is sure in life, it’s that we age. However, getting older doesn’t equal getting more mature.
Recently, Don contacted me. The reason his former employer gave him for firing him is that he is too immature. Don asked if I could help him to “grow up.” I admit that his inquiry caught me by surprise. However, I get it.
The behavior that makes us the coolest, most sought-after kid in school, doesn’t work later in life.
In relationships and at the workplace, we’re looking for mature people. In this article, I share why some people don’t want to grow up and how you can recognize if you’re immature.
You’re always searching
For a hotter partner, short-cuts, a more relaxed city, a better job. ” It’s difficult for you to commit because it feels like missing out on other opportunities.
Why can’t you have everything right now?
Your independence is everything to you
You want to be free and feel limited by everyday-duties. Meaning you’re often late for appointments and have problems meeting deadlines. And then you don’t understand why other people make such a big deal out of it. “I’m here now,” might be how you try to trivialize your lapse.
You’re not doing great in your job
Discipline, routine, and duties are not your thing, and you try to avoid them. That’s why your co-workers and managers don’t respect you. In their eyes, you’re an immature, unreliable dreamer.
Are they right? You love the idea of being an entrepreneur and might start a few startups-but you lack push-through.
You feel drawn to “quick-rich” opportunities. Shiny objects attract you like honey attracts bears. The laptop lifestyle and big money for little work seem so appealing!
Oh, you’re a model. Who’s your agency?
Oh, you’re a famous author. Who’s your publisher?
Oh, you’re the world’s greatest speaker? Where do you speak?
You have complicated relationships
You’re charming, and that appeals to the girls/boys. However, only for a short time. You don’t want to commit. Life is short and full of chicks/chicos, and you can settle down when you’re old.
While fleeing the responsibility that comes with a committed relationship, you don’t realize that you’re incredibly dependent-on your desire to be independent.
You’re looking for the kick
Faster, harder, bigger, louder! You need excitement to feel alive. Maybe you resort to drugs, extreme sports, or risky ventures. You might feel attracted by extremist groups or cults. They help you to cover up your dark side that’s not kind and charming at all.
Others perceive you as careless and arrogant in conversations
Personal, in-depth discussions are not for you. You quickly get bored because you don’t know enough about “this stuff” and yourself.
People’s initial fascination with you soon turns into the feeling of dealing with a precocious kid.
Why do people refuse to grow up?
If you ask children and teens if they want to grow up, they’ll nearly always reply: “Yeah, sure!”
For them, maturity and being a grown-up is connected to independence and freedom. McDonald’s every day and drinking as much coke as you want. Sleeping in and no homework. Ah, that’s heaven.
How often did we hear “you’re too young for this” when we were children?
“Grown-up” seems like a synonym for unlimited fun.
Young people could just look at their parents (boring!) to see that their idea of being a grown-up is not accurate. However, they’re convinced they will NEVER be anything like their parents (read why we often become exactly like our parents HERE.)
Latest when people get their first job, they realize that being a grown-up also means sacrifices. Most get used to it-and mature.
Especially young men sometimes have a problem growing up. They find the limitations of being a “responsible person” unbearable.
Many then go on strike. They switch jobs and relationships as soon as a problem manifests. They delay growing up by failing tests. That way, they can start all over again.
And they dream. Of a different land, a diverse society, a different world.
Why is acting mature so difficult sometimes?
Finding the conflicting component
The assumption many coaching approaches follow is that the client already possesses the resources to fix their problem. What they’re missing is access to these resources.
A human is always part of the whole (person in the system) and the whole (person as the system.)
To help Don “grow up” and coach other clients to their desired goals, we need to understand two things:
- The inner world of the individual
- The system the individual wants to contribute to
You can probably relate: If you listen into yourself, you don’t hear one single “voice” on a specific topic or situations. We hear conflicting inner voices, and all of them try to influence our external communication and actions.
Personally, I am a big fan and user of the “The Inner Team” method developed by well-known Hamburg psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun.
In short: The Inner Team model assumes that our psyche is not a unified “thing” but a collection of pieces in a polar order.
Meaning someone who lives their life as a greedy person also has a giving part inside of them. Who “loves chaos” carries an orderly component. Most of the time, one of the “voices” is dominant and defines how we live our lives.
What does that have to do with maturity?
If we’re immature (and in many other situations,) we have to fix the conflict in our Inner Team and integrate all parts. We have to face the components we exiled.
Most people are unaware that they carry unresolved conflicts with them since their childhood or teenage years. And they resist the idea. “Something that happened 10, 20, 40 years ago doesn’t impact me. I’m over it.”
Here’s the thing:
We never get “over” things like that. Yes, we can decide how we handle a painful experience. However, if we don’t face it, the experience will impact us for as long as we live.
In my personal coaching, one of the methods I use helps people to become aware of such inner conflicts.
Here’s a little tip on how you can try it. You just need two things: A particular form of awareness and a relevant sentence.
The form of awareness I am referring to is mindfulness.
Most of the time, our focus is outwardly and connected more to our thinking than emotions.
Mindfulness is simple
Sit at a quiet place and close your eyes. Direct your attention to your body, your feelings, and your thoughts.
Important: Just observe. You don’t need to understand, judge, explain, or change anything. Only observe the physical sensations and your feelings.
Maybe you notice tension in your head, you feel nervous or worried about work.
Keep observing. After a while, you will feel calmer.
And now to the sentence. This exercise helps you to detect and recognize the inner conflicts you might have.
I will give you a set of sentences. The wording is always positive; however, it doesn’t mean that you experience them positively.
Here is how it works:
Read the sentence, close your eyes, and say the sentence aloud.
Observe your emotional response. Don’t think about the sentence or your response. Be passive, sit still, and wait which reactions you’ll experience in the 10 seconds after saying the sentence out loud.
Maybe you will feel tension somewhere in your body. Resistance. Or a feeling of anger, sadness, or emptiness. Perhaps you observe a thought that agrees or disagrees with the sentence.
You can also relax and listen to the audio I made for you. I will say each sentence and leave enough time for you to reflect. There is no wrong or right reaction. Every reaction is welcome.
The following sentence triggers an emotional response in most people:
- I am lovable just the way I am.
- All of my emotions are ok.
- I am allowed to make mistakes.
- I don’t have to please everyone.
- I don’t have to prove anything.
- My life is my responsibility.
Did you notice any responses? Relief or tension?
If you were relaxed and mindful, and your responses were neutral (= no change), it indicates that you don’t have an inner conflict regarding this topic. If you experienced a positive or negative reaction, you likely found an inner conflict. The more intense the response, the stronger the battle.
The sentences are positive and very general. If you felt resistance towards any of them, it has to do with you. Your brain stored an experience from a past or current relationship.
Maturity – a definition
In addition to my statements above, I feel that a sign of maturity is to know your triggers, meaning the inner buttons other people can press.
For instance, some people react extremely hefty to critical feedback. That’s a clear sign of inner conflict. In this particular case, the individual was likely the victim of conditional love.
The intense adverse reaction and “fighting back” is the response of someone that cannot allow that they are imperfect or made a mistake.
Mindfulness can help you to dig deeper. Once you recognized a problem-area, you can look inside (without actively thinking about it. ) Try to “empty” your head and wait what comes to your mind.
Often it’s a childhood memory. A situation where you learned that not being perfect or screwing up had unpleasant or even painful consequences. That’s when you decided that you will avoid situations like this in the future.
If you’re immature, you will find inner conflicts. Facing and removing them will lead to more maturity and better results in your personal and professional life.
Most people need support to achieve that, and that’s ok. Asking for help when you need it, is a sign of strengths and maturity.
If you’d like to work with me, go ahead and book a free 15-minute consultation.