Hi, I'd like to welcome you to my website. Counselor's Corner is an opportunity for me to share with you some ideas I've had over my 30 year career as a therapist. I hope that some of this material will stimulate your own thinking about your life, your relationships, your families and how you function in the world. (I welcome your feedback to these ideas).
I thought I would start with the idea of Emotional Maturity. I have observed, and you have also probably observed, that chronological age doesn't necessarily correspond to emotional maturity. What do I mean when I talk about emotional maturity? In general, it's the ability to self-reflect, manage your emotions and make the choices that will enhance your life. Emotionally mature people feel their emotions, but are not run by them. They have the ability to self-soothe.
Recent studies of the brain show that when our emotional reactivity is high, our brains are flooded with chemicals that shut down our ability to think clearly. These chemicals include cortisol and adrenaline, useful stimulants for dangerous situations. They're designed to help the body react quickly. Most life situations require the ability to process information, make cognitive connections, sift through data, access important past information, with the purpose of making an informed and reasoned choice. The impulse buyer shops with her heart: "I love it; I have to have it", possibly resulting in a shoddy product and too much debt. The emotionally mature person can manage the immediate desire and make a reasoned decision. This ability to use reason could apply to the purchase of a new car or to hooking up with the next guy.
Emotions are the spice of life. Without them we'd be mechanical drones, but they are unreliable in decision making. The ability to increase your emotional maturity relies on your ability to soothe your emotions so that you can think clearly and make the decisions that will ultimately be in your best interests.