Wednesday, February 22, 2012

So you think you are a matured person?

Yes. That’s the first thought that comes to my mind and I guess everyone else thinks the same. What about you? I have never heard anyone saying ‘I am not matured enough’!  Have you?
When I thought of writing on maturity, I started asking many of my friends on their views. There were different perceptions and understandings on the topic.  Most of them associated maturity with age which I think is the most common interpretation.  Some of them said it is the way we behave.  Other thoughts were that maturity is the level of our understanding, the ability to adapt to situations, the knowledge about a subject and so son.  All these factors do have its part in maturity.  But there is still something missing out there.  All above answers are correct but certainly not complete.  Let me share my understanding on the topic gained from some reading and some discussions combined with my thoughts.  In order to understand maturity we need to understand some of the characteristics of maturity.  The first question I had was to understand how we could measure maturity. Maturity is a lifelong process with different forms and levels and it cannot be measured with accurate matrices.  It can only be interpreted.
Let’s start with Age.  This is the most common understanding of many that to age is to become mature.  All of us definitely display some levels of maturity in our behavior and we all expect that everyone behave with certain maturity of their age.  But age always does not necessarily develop maturity.  Age is connected with maturity because of our expectation of a behavior at different ages.  If a fifteen year old boy behaves well like a fifteen year boy, we should be able to say that he is a matured boy for his age.  But if a 40 year old man behaves like a 15 year old boy we do not call him matured where maturity has not grown with age. We have also seen cases where some very young people showing the characteristics of much experienced and knowledgeable minds.  In this case the maturity level goes much beyond the age factor.  So it’s not necessary that maturity and age grows simultaneously.  Everyone will become old which is just something that happens physically. Every child grows and becomes old.  But not all of them become mature.  You must be aware of your age and the expected behavior from your age to be mature. 
If a person continually acts in a mature manner we say that he is matured.  Here we associate maturity with behavior.  What if I say: I am always right! I can make better decisions than others! I am a matured man!  I am a grown up man and so I am matured.  Can you agree with this?  Hey, I am really grown up!  But does my behavior justify maturity?  I have heard many friends arguing on being criticized, and finally judging others as not being mature.  But in reality are they showing any signs of maturity in their behaviors or are they signaling towards their own immature nature?  Can we be mature when we cannot accept criticism, when we cannot accept our mistakes?  A mature person must be able to face situations and resolve conflicts.  He must act responsibly and be strong to admit personal issues. Our behavior pattern is just a way to express our maturity.  Maturity is more than our behavior.  If we do not realize the effects of our behavior and the acceptance of our behavior, then our behavior is not maturity.  We must be aware of our behavior to be matured.  . 
Maturity can be related with experience.  We learn things from our experiences which help us to mold our behavior to situations.  But sometimes experienced men do not show the expected maturity in their approach.  There are two forms of experiences.  An experience that passes without much attention and influence on you.  It happens just because you were present in a situation and has created no impact on your astuteness.  In this case the experience will not convert to maturity.  But if the same experience brings awareness to you it becomes maturity. This is the second form where an experience fills awareness and wisdom that will take your maturity to a higher level.  When you apply awareness to experience you become more alert and mature to differentiate the right and wrong and not to repeat a committed mistake again and again.  For example if your anger had caused a loss to you in a situation, and you are not aware of the reason, you will continue to be angry in similar situations.  But if you become aware of the reasons of your loss being anger, you will never repeat the same mistake again and again.  Your maturity will take care of your anger. 
Can our ability to adapt to situations make us a matured person?  I would like to put it the other way.  A matured person will better adapt to a situation or I would rather say to a change. Just adapting to a situation is only a temporary action and sometimes you are forced to adapt to situations for various reasons. It’s just a matter of choice and not an act of maturity.  I would agree more if we say that maturity will help us to adapt to change and become flexible.  Our awareness on the importance of adapting a change is more important than just adapting a change without any awareness just to satisfy someone or some situation.  Adapting does not mean that we have to adjust ourselves to fit into a circle where we do not belong to!  Our maturity will help us in identifying such situations through awareness.  If we are not aware of the impacts of change then we cannot adapt to such change.  We can see many people resisting change just because they are not aware of the benefits.  They are nervous to the change and feel at risk for lack of awareness.  So it is more important to fill awareness than just to adapting to situations. 
There are different types and levels of maturity. A person cannot be matured by all means or master maturity.  If a man is matured by all means, he has nothing more to experience in life.  Maturity stops only when we stop experiencing life; when our inner growth stops.  As long as we live, we experience different phases of life developing awareness on different topics.  Since there is expectations of maturity level set at every age, we can classify maturity levels by age: Infant Level, Child Level, Adolescent Level, and Adult Levels.  In our journey from Infant Level to Adult Level we come across and experience more and more events in life which develops an inner growth leading to an understanding of life and about what life has to offer.  In this journey the inner growth tells us different interpretations for our experiences which influences in our behaviors patterns and ultimately forms our maturity.  And maturity helps us to develop the capacity to find solutions to our disagreements with others.  The more mature we become the more independent we become.  We learn to become more flexible, realistic and practical in decision making.  We tend to think more positives than negatives. We think about quality than quantity. We start thinking for others than for only ourselves.  We learn to contribute to the society. We learn to respect others.  We learn to take responsibilities rather than blaming others.  We are able to balance our thoughts with our emotions, feelings and actions.  We learn to ask wise questions.
There are still so many other factors that mark our maturity.  The longer I write the more boring it will be.  So let me straight away jump to what is maturity.  We all know that at different phases of growth we learn and experience different levels of awareness.  Now we agree that age is only a physical growth and not maturity.  So what is maturity? Maturity is the ability to control anger and emotions; it is the ability to make decisions and stand by it, it is the wisdom to realize your ability, it is the art of living in peace.  In all cases it is the awareness that plays the most important role in our maturity. If this can be accepted then I would say that one who has developed awareness on certain topic(s) is a matured person in those topic(s).  Why I mention a topic is because a person cannot be matured in all areas of life.  A person can be aware of his ability in a subject and his understanding of the surroundings where he lives or has access to. That’s why we see and accept certain people as politically matured person, socially matured person, professionally matured person, technically matured person, culturally matured person etc. 
To conclude maturity is something that happens within us – an ‘Inner Growth’.  To be more precise we can define maturity as an ‘Inner Growth’ combined with awareness and understanding’.  In fact it is this inner growth with awareness that controls most of the human features, that includes being flexible, adapting to situations, accepting reality, developing feelings and emotions, developing behavior patterns, analyzing experiences, controlling thought processes,  persuading positive thinking, and helping decision making.  If we have developed self-awareness then we are becoming matured.  It is said that a matured person never commits the same mistake again.  But an old person can make the same mistake again and again.
‘Age is the acceptance of a term of years.  But maturity is the glory of years’ (Martha Graham)
Bye for now until we meet again.