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  • Emotional maturity is a state few of us ever reach  - or at least not for very long. But it may help  

  • us to try to lay out what some of the ingredients  are so that we have an idea what we might aim for:

  • If we were to grow into emotionally  mature people, this is some of what  

  • we would have learnt how to be: - We would understand the key role  

  • of self-understanding in helping us to grow  into more reliable and predictable partners,  

  • parents, friends and colleagues. Our  greatest ambition would be to reach  

  • a heightened understanding of our own minds. - We would constantly be aware of not being able  

  • to complete more than a fraction of this elevated  goal and would hence be deeply cautious in all  

  • our assertions and conclusions. ‘Sorry’, ‘perhaps’  andmaybewould be some of our favourite words

  • - We would recognise what unfaithful allies  our conscious minds are for the project of  

  • self-discovery; how much of us wants to know  ourselves and how very much more doesn’t want to  

  • in the least. We would be humbled by the strength  of our inclinations to distraction and denial

  • - We would properly realise that we were going  to die and would put this terrifying thought to  

  • use on a daily basis to nudge us towards greater  appreciation, authenticity and focus. It would  

  • help us to say, at points, and at last, ‘no.’ - We would realise, with considerable dark humour,  

  • that we were fools. We are idiots now, we were  idiots then and we will be idiots tomorrow.  

  • There are few other options for a human being. - We would shed our pride; we would realise  

  • how much we constantly misunderstand  - and never more so than when we begin  

  • to have faith in our competence and sanity. - We would acknowledge the influence of the body  

  • on the mind. We may sink into existential despair  not because there is anything objectively tragic  

  • at hand, but because we are in urgent need of an  orange juice or missed out on an hour of sleep

  • - We would respect the art of diplomacy  and the importance of politeness;  

  • we would acknowledge the surprising thought that  other people may be just as easily hurt as we are

  • - We would learn, painfully, to use language  to give those around us an indication of what  

  • is at play within us. We wouldn't hold it  against them that they didn't understand  

  • things we had never bothered to teach them. - We would realise how much others long for  

  • warmth and reassurance and would be less inhibited  about offering those two very serious categories  

  • of gifts: cosiness and sweetness. - We would acknowledge that it was  

  • impossible to be friends with, or liked byeveryone. Attempting to please universally  

  • ultimately only leads to offending manywe would know how to disappoint frankly  

  • and quickly to avoid drawn-out appeasement. - We would feel more carefree at the idea of being  

  • strange. Public opinion would matter less, because  we would have seen enough of the shallowness and  

  • reflex moralism of crowds. This would be our one  life, we would know; and we would have the courage  

  • to be oddballs where we needed to be. - We would take our own boredom as a  

  • guide. Everyone else might declare it a brilliant  

  • book or an extraordinary play. We  might toss it aside or walk out.

  • This is some of what we might think and  feel if we ever became those paragons  

  • of true intelligence: emotionally mature people.

Emotional maturity is a state few of us ever reach  - or at least not for very long. But it may help  

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