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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 strive to understand  

  • the specific ways in which our childhoods  had made us crazy. We would accept that  

  • most of what we are is shaped by relatively  small events that unfold before we are ten.  

  • We would find a good therapist. - We would notice the patterns.  

  • Perhaps we wouldn't need to keep trying  to impress older figures of authority;  

  • or to fall in love with distant people who were  involved with someone else. We would acquire a  

  • (low-resolution) map of our neuroses. - There would be a little more delay  

  • between feeling something and having  to act on it. We might even at times  

  • simply observe a feeling and do nothing. - We could bear to listen. We would no longer cut  

  • across and say, ‘That reminds me of something…’  just as another person started to share their  

  • story. We would soothe our own wounded egos into  silence, look warmly into their eyes and say,  

  • Tell me more, this sounds so interesting…’ - Fewer people would strike us as being  

  • either very good or very bad; we would sense  the struggle in everyone to keep afloat. We  

  • would judge that we were all a mixture  of the good-hearted and the egoistic. We  

  • would have less of an impulse to stone wrongdoers. - We would take measures to stay pessimistic about  

  • how things turn out; we would remind ourselves on  an hourly basis that all relationships are riven  

  • with pain, all business ventures are maddeningand all families are demented. We wouldn't feel  

  • so persecuted; this is how things universally are  (it's just that other people carefully omit to  

  • speak about it). We would get less hopeful and  - therefore - less bitter and less furious. Of  

  • course, things are often slightly disastrous, of  course, we have made some terrible mistakes, of  

  • course, we have been betrayed and treated badlyIt would all feel eminently and supremely normal

  • - We would cease lamenting our wrong turns: we  probably did marry the wrong person; we almost  

  • certainly did choose the wrong career. Probably  we are living in the wrong country (and definitely  

  • the wrong house). We invested in useless thingsWe befriended unworthy sorts, we made awful errors  

  • bringing up our children, we neglected our healthWe would be starting to get it right if we lived  

  • to a 1,000 or could do half a dozen practice runs. - We would realise that there is no manual on  

  • how to live. Everyone is making it up  as they go along. No one is normal,  

  • and no one understands more than bit of anything. - We would marvel at the passage of the years.  

  • Growing old: what a strange thing  to happen to a little boy or girl

  • - We would have been through a sufficient number  of summers and winters to know that things do  

  • pass, eventually. What looks at one time likemountain will - over the years - be worn down to  

  • a pebble. Some of our greatest losses wouldn't  even register anymore. What we are weeping about  

  • today may make no sense a while from nowThey say you'll get over it - and you will

  • - We would laugh more richly because we  had capitulated to the darkest truths.

  • 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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