I have an uncle named Mike that hosted my family at their house in Charleston, SC last summer. Mike has always been a great 'encourager' and example for me throughout my life. He and his wife Sherri ran a Schlotzsky's Deli for years along with a courier business. He then started acquiring rental properties over the years and now has upwards of 20 rental properties that he owns and manages. Mike has always been physically fit competing in tri-athlons as an adult and stays busy with his 2 grown sons and 2 grandkids. But more importantly than all of that, Mike spends most of his time involved with his church and developing his emotional and spiritual self. What I admire most about Mike is his continued curiosity and his willingness to still be extremely teachable and coachable even as he has gotten older and wiser in life. Even though he is over 20 years older than me and I learn so much from him, he is always very inquisitive and wanting to learn just as much from me. It is a rare and unique quality to have that thirst for knowledge and growth as we get older in life. One of the ways that Mike is a great 'encourager' for me is sending me relevant articles on spiritual and personal growth. The latest article he sent me was '4 things emotionally mature people don't do.' The article is perfect for our message here at Grit, and I have just spun the verbiage into a positive and added a few touches to try and personalize it here. The article starts by saying:
When we live under the assumption that we’ll automatically mature as we grow older, we miss a simple truth: Emotional maturity is about which patterns you remove from your life, not how many more you layer on top. The emotional habits we formed along the way remain strong and sturdy — and now, they get in the way of us acting calmly, maturely, and responsibly. Emotional maturity is the foundation of solid mental health and happiness. If you handle your emotions well, you can create positivity and meaning from even the worst of experiences.
Here are the 4 things that emotionally mature people do: 1. Embrace emotionally challenging situations Our 'flight' impulse in emotionally challenging situations is quite natural. However, clarifying emotions in those moments is how to overcome them, not running from them. With my Enneagram type, when I get stressed, my natural inclination is to become a 'peacemaker.' My instinct is to shut down and become like Switzerland! However, it's important that in the moment, I don't escape those emotions and I stay engaged and address them. 2. Accept ownership and don't blame others My youth minister as a kid used to say that when you point your finger at someone else, you have 4 fingers pointing back at you. I know one of the reasons we blame others it to deflect the attention off of ourselves. Sometimes we assume we know why other people do things and then generalize those intentions, but emotional maturity is focusing on controlling the things that only you can control. And isn't it interesting that sometimes when we accept ownership for something how the issue no longer escalates? It solves the blaming process and allows us to move on to the reparations stage. 3. Forgive themselves Sometimes we try and cope with mistakes by beating ourselves up thinking that will help us cope with the disappointment. However, emotional growth comes from recognizing the mistake, forgiving ourselves, figuring out how we could have responded differently, and then recognizing and adjusting the next time we are in that situation. We have to be quick to forgive ourselves and build on the personal growth that we now have experienced having been through that particular challenge. 4. Pick and choose their battles Not every situation needs us to pick a side. Just because you are older now, you don't have to be versed on every topic and have formulated a professional opinion on everything! It's too much mental and emotional stress and too much to ask of yourself. As the old saying goes, 'seek to understand before being understood.' And I would go one step further to say, sometimes just seek to understand - the person sharing with you will feel very heard and understood without you imparting any of your opinion! Here at Grit.org, we hope to be an 'encourager' for you the same way Uncle Mike has been an encourager for me. Furthermore, I challenge you to find someone to encourage. Paying it forward to the next closest person that is open to receiving it will open doors, opportunities, and relationships in ways you never thought possible. Have a great week! Pictured below - Uncle Mike last summer at his dock showing us how he casts the net to catch bait