Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Strong Are You?

First off - if you are not 'following' this blog, you should sign up with your email at that link on the right.  Then you'll be alerted whenever I post something, or when someone comments on a post and you won't have to randomly check back to see what's happening.

Now, it's time to tackle a tough one.  Ready?  


I warned you this was coming.  
Yes, we all have them (whether we like to admit it or not) and they are often hurt so very easily.  Why is this?  What is it about our feelings that make them so vulnerable to attack (or perceived attack)?  Are we only hurt by those who 'should know better', or do we find that basically anybody can ruffle our emotional feathers with what we consider a hurtful remark or action.  Do you see the relationship between hurt and anger?  Many times, as men, our 'hurt' is manifested as anger.  If we look a little deeper we will likely find that a wound was inflicted that brought on the anger.  

So what do we do with that hurt or anger when it presents itself?  Lash out at those who did the damage?  Get even?  Eye for an eye?  Do we internalize it, suppress it, maybe leak it out in passive/aggressive ways?  Unfortunately, my observation is that many of us have a very low EQ (emotional maturity quotient).  I googled the phrase 'emotional maturity' and found this piece that I've edited down to 13 of the best suggestions.  It was found in a small tract published by an Alcoholics Anonymous group from Akron, Ohio.  Its author chose to remain anonymous.

The mature person has developed attitudes in relation to himself and his environment which have lifted him above "childishness" in thought and behavior. 
Some of the characteristics of the person who has achieved true adulthood are suggested here:
1. He accepts criticism (being able to assess with an open mind whether or not it is useful). 
2. He does not indulge in self-pity.  
3. He does not expect special consideration from anyone.
4. He controls his temper.
5. His feelings are not easily hurt.
6. He accepts the responsibility of his own actions without trying to "alibi."
7. He is not impatient at reasonable delays.  He has learned that he is not the arbiter of the universe and that he must often adjust himself to other people and their convenience.
8. He is a good loser.  He can endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining.
9. He does not worry about things he cannot help.
10. He is honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune.  He has outgrown envy and jealousy.
11. He is not a chronic "fault-finder."
12. He has faith in a Power greater than himself.
13. He obeys the spiritual essence of the Golden Rule:  "Love others as yourself."

That's a great list.  However, I think it's a lot easier to say what an emotionally mature person would look like than describe how to achieve it.  Just pull yourself up by the proverbial bootstraps?  For those of you familiar with Mens Fraternity, you know that Robert Louis spends a good bit of time going over the 'wounds' of manhood.  He says that understanding these wounds, and addressing them by resolving them or moving on from them, is critical to being a mature man.

That sounds like a good start.  Assess where we are, recognize our faults, don't excuse them but take responsibility for them - even if they were handed down from our parents/others.

What's next?

How do we learn to respond maturely, or at the least NOT respond immaturely, when we suffer a perceived 'hurt'?  Does repeated exposure to 'hurts' and the practicing of mature responses 'grow' our emotional muscle?  What are the biggest stumbling blocks, or pitfalls, to emotional maturity?  How does the idea of 'mental toughness' factor in?


  1. Good questions. Looking at that list of 13 characteristics, take note of how many of them can be tied to selfishness in some way. Most of them.

    It would seem, then, that if you could deny your selfish desires and inclinations, humble yourself, and consider the needs and viewpoints of'd be well on your way to checking off a good portion of that Emotional Maturity checklist.

    In my experience, a good first step in combating selfishness is just becoming aware of it, and becoming aware of the effects it has on my life and my relationships.

  2. I strongly agree about the awareness part. As I've said before, we're usually at least seriously deluded, if not outright oblivious to, our own faults. Selfishness is so natural to the fiber of our being that it takes an act of God to appreciate it. It's kind of like water realizing it's wet when it has no reference point for dryness.