By Jayaram V
Immaturity is not confined to individuals alone. Sometimes, groups
or even nations act quite immaturely, resulting in great misery
and suffering to millions of people. It happened several times in
the past and is still happening today, in many parts of the world,
causing much misery and bloodshed to millions of people. Frankly
many of our leaders and celebrity figures, the icons and role models
of our society, are immature. They hide it behind a façade of pomp
and power, but betray themselves often through their actions and
We see people exhibiting immature behavior in sports and competitions,
public, media, many major national and international forums and
institutions, legislative and government bodies and even the UN
Security Council and general assembly. It is expressed in the way
we react to things and situations, the movies we watch, the words
we use, the lifestyle choices we make, the emotions we express and
the way we manage our relationships and finances. Truly speaking,
on a cosmic scale, ours is still an immature civilization and we
may require a few more centuries to be able to look at ourselves
and our actions with complete objectivity and maturity.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL GROWTH
Eric Berne proposed an integrative model to explain
and personality disorders, which he termed Transactional Analysis. According to his model, the human personality consists of three basic components, the parent, the child and the adult. The parent part is what every person inherits from his parents in the form of commands, rules, dos and don'ts.
It is usually authoritative and preservative. The child part consists of the emotions, feelings and perceptions
people experience in their childhood as a result of parental and peer control.
It is usually emotional and creative and vulnerable to
parental controls and suggestions embedded in memory. The adult part is what
people gather through their own experience, observation, curiosity, analysis and rational thinking.
It is usually mature, rational and observant. Problems arise in communication, relationships,
thinking and perceptions if either the parent or the child takes control of a person's
mind and determines his or her life-script and worldview.
Those whose adults are contaminated by either the parent or the child
or both lead very emotionally disturbed and unstable lives
weighed by guilt, low self-esteem and negative self-talk.
They are difficult to reason with. Berne suggested that to establish clarity and maturity in thinking, rational and clear communication with others, live spontaneously in the present, and act according to situation, the adult must remain in charge
for which one must learn to remain centered in the adult.
We know, more or less, what physical growth means and we know
from appearance, when a person reaches adulthood. It is easy to
understand and recognize physical growth, because it is visible,
measurable and does not continue beyond a particular age, except
in certain ways, such as gaining body weight or the changes that
come with aging. Almost every normal individual attains physical
maturity after a certain age. Only and rarely, a few unfortunate
individuals fail to grow normally, because of a rare disease or
Mental growth, however, does not proceed along the same lines
as physical growth. The brain cells do stop multiplying after a
certain age, but mentally we continue to grow in awareness and understanding
till old age. It is difficult to say when an individual actually
stops growing mentally and whether he stops growing mentally at
all till the end. People also differ in their ability to grow mentally
because a number of factors influence mental growth.
Some people become mentally mature and rationale very early in
their lives, while some people may remain immature even after they
become adults. Also mature behavior may be circumstantial. The same
individual may show varying degrees of maturity on different occasions,
because of many facilitating and inhibiting factors, which are difficult
Quantifying the mental growth of a person, therefore, is a real
problem. It is difficult to say when and at what stage a person
becomes mentally mature. By subjecting an individual to certain
tests and testing situations, we may arrive at certain conclusions,
but we cannot be sure how accurate our conclusions are.
We have very complex personalities, because of which it is really
difficult to control our behavior all the time. However mature and
diligent we are, at times we are bound to come under the influence
of our emotions and act immaturely. There are many physical, mental
and environmental factors, which play upon our emotions and incite
our behavior. This is very human and normal. In a way it is also
necessary, because we need to let out our emotions occasionally and provide a safe outlet for our pent-up
frustrations and disappointments in life.
Each of us has a child inside us, formed out of our childhood
experiences. It remains active, even after we become adults. Temperamentally,
it is unstable, immature, emotional and also highly creative. Although
it is a relic of our past, it is an essential and important component
of our personalities. Even after we become adults, it continues
to play a significant role in shaping our lives and behavior. Since
it is filled with emotions, it requires some caring and nurturing
on our part, so that we will not feel dull and depressed. It also
needs to be kept under control so that we will not act irrationally
or emotionally in critical situations. It is ok to let it out sometimes
and experience freedom and joy, but it should not be allowed to
take control of our lives and replace the adult in us.
WHAT IS MATURITY?
Maturity does not necessarily increase with age, but with awareness
and understanding, borne out of individual perceptions and personal
experiences. It develops to the extent we organize our consciousness,
according to our experiences and the factual information we gather,
and to the extent we cleanse it of irrational thoughts, beliefs,
prejudices, notions and emotions, which we accumulate due to the
lazy habits of our minds.
There is no consistent correlation between physical growth and
mental maturity. Sometimes a young adult may show more maturity
than a grown up person. Two persons in the same age group may also
have different levels of maturity. Maturity is a product of many
factors such as age, awareness, intelligence, education and upbringing.
Since these vary from individual to individual, people differ in
their levels of maturity.
The Oxford Dictionary defines ‗maturity‘ in the following words:
"deliberateness of action, mature consideration, due deliberation,
fullness or perfection of natural development, ripeness, due promptness,
the state of being complete, perfect, ready," and so on. This is
the literary definition. In a general sense, maturity means complete
physical and mental growth, or the state of adulthood. It is the
ability to act rationally and realistically, rather than emotionally.
From a behavioral perspective, to be mature means:
To be realistic, to be in touch with reality and guided by
To accept responsibility for self and one‘s own life.
To be willing to examine one‘s beliefs, prejudices and assumptions
in the light of facts and one‘s own experiences and change one‘s
thinking, awareness, behavior and understanding accordingly,
To be guided by reason rather than emotions, to be able to
distinguish the difference between the two and also at the same
time accommodate one‘s feelings and emotions appropriately and intelligently
in one's life.
To be assertive, without being aggressive; to be friendly without
being self-centered; to disagree, without being insensitive; to
ask, without the fear of rejection; and to act, without fear or
To be flexible and open-minded, instead of being rigid and
judgmental; to be receptive to new experiences and new people; and
to be willing to learn new skills and acquire new knowledge.
To be inquisitive and exploratory, seeking answers, gathering
information before arriving at conclusions, stretching one‘s mind
to explore hidden possibilities and one‘s potentialities.
To be free from mental conditioning and act spontaneously,
according to the reality of the situation, without prejudice and
preconceived notions, without the compulsion to be perfect or correct
and without indulging in habitual actions and responses.
To be in touch with the present and enjoy the passing moment.
To know what is possible and achievable and to acknowledge
that which is not.
WHO IS A MATURE PERSON?
Here is a brief description of what a mature person is. A mature
Is concerned with facts.
Goes by personal experience rather than beliefs.
Relies upon reason rather than emotions.
Thinks before acting.
Uses resources wisely, according to the realistic needs and
demands of the situation
Weighs a situation carefully, before drawing conclusions
Lives in the present.
Is open-minded, willing to learn and explore other possibilities,
view points and alternatives.
knows the limitations
Has a healthy self image and sense of self.
Takes practical decisions, according to the situation.
Knows how to deal with anxiety, fear and worries.
Believes in human dignity. Respects self and respects others.
Listens, pays attention and learns from experience.
SOME SUGGESTIONS TO PRACTICE ADULT THINKING
Maturity is accepting what is, willing to change what can be
and letting go of what cannot be. It is to make peace with oneself,
by agreeing to follow reason, acknowledge emotions and rely upon
one‘s own experience. It is to free oneself from the compulsions
of the past and the anxieties of future, by staying in the present
and acting spontaneously. It is to cultivate a balanced view of
life by detaching oneself from things and expectations and enjoy
life as it happens. Here are some useful ways to cultivate maturity
Source: Reproduced partially from
the article, "Maturity of Mind and Adult Behavior" from the book Think Success
by Jayaram V. You may purchase this book from
our online store or from
Suggested Further Reading