In our society, we have a very two dimensional understanding of maturity. Most people define it as an accumulation of experiences that come through the process of aging. But this isn’t really true.
The truth is that maturity has very little to do with our external experiences, and everything to do with our inner processing of the world. Yes, you might have experienced a lot of challenges and hardships in life, but if you weren’t present and aware of what was happening and the way in which it could help you to learn and grow, all of your experiences simply turned into moments where you unconsciously and emotionally reacted, not maturing at all.
While we have no control over aging, we do play a part in our ability to mature. Maturity is something that comes with conscious intent; something that evolves as we become more aware. It isn’t how “knowledgeable” or “smart” we are either, as knowledge is a product of past fears, mental patterns, memories, reactions and illusory concepts of the self.
Instead, true maturity is the state of being internally free enough to respond consciously, to be responsible enough to see the end result in our thoughts, feelings, and actions and how they will affect ourselves, others and the world at large.
Developing true maturity impacts so many different areas of our lives. Below I elaborate:
1. Maturity is Courageous
Maturity involves inner freedom and freedom is the result of having courage – the courage to think differently and behave differently.
In a society that considers “maturity” as the pursuit of careers, spouses, mortgages, children, and materialism, it takes immense courage to truly be mature and to pursue a path with heart, reconnecting with our authentic selves.
2. Maturity is Honest
Many people avoid the truth of who they really are by piling on beliefs, labels, and roles in their lives and clinging to them. However, the mature person, in their lifelong pursuit of self-discovery comes to see all the ways in which they deceive themselves into a false sense of being.
Common examples of spiritual immaturity involve avoiding the shadow elements of human nature, believing that we have transcended our “lower selves” and are in touch with our “higher selves” (as if our “lower selves” aren’t as equally part of our wholeness), and confusing the fearful voices of our core wounds with our intuition.
3. Maturity is Loving
Most people’s idea of love is to love only to receive love. “I need you to love me so I can love you back” is not a very mature way of loving. To be mature means that you can love someone unconditionally, even if they don’t love you back because your own self-love is more than enough.
The spiritually mature person loves because the state of love expands their limited sense of self and reconnects them with the divine. They don’t just love to be reassured that they are lovable by another.
And if the other person is mature enough to love back the same way, love becomes even more powerful.
You’ll often come across people that hold love as the highest possible spiritual form, which it is. But to experience that love you must first have attained the personal freedom and responsibility that is necessary to unconditionally love.
4. Maturity is Compassionate
Many religions will teach you to do “good” out of duty through pity and sympathy (both include feeling sorry for another because they are in position inferiority to you), as opposed to empathy when you can feel and understand their pain as equals. Many are compassionate also out of the underlying stimulus and promise of “rewards” in the afterlife. However, this is completely destructive and a perfect example of immaturity.
The spiritually mature person doesn’t act from a place of dutifully needing “to do good” which is tainted with all kinds of unconscious desires such as self-gratification, power, prestige, and control. To do any mature charitable act, our motivation must come from a place of inner peace and freedom.
5. Maturity is Forgiving
Resenting other people is addictive. It gives us a false sense of power by believing that we are protecting ourselves from getting hurt again, and we are on the “moral high ground.” It tricks us into an unhealthy sense of self-importance; “I’ll never forgive you. What you did to ME was UNFORGIVABLE.” It is yet another way in which our misery and self-pity make us happy.