How to Become Emotionally Mature

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Depressed man sitting by lake

“Hal hated Charlie, everything about him, from his knowing sneer to his rolling swagger. When he saw him enter the restaurant with Keith, he wished fervently he could get away and considered getting up and walking out of the breakfast meeting, without a word to either of his two former partners. But then he garnered his faculties and decided to accept this reality. He would choose how to respond, and his choice would be to be cordial and cooperative. He felt a surge of strength as he realized that handling himself in a dignified manner with both these men would be a bigger personal victory than if he met with Keith alone.”Excerpt from The Hero’s Choice: Living from the Inside Out

This passage gives you a little insight into emotional maturity. Hal’s immediate reaction was to simply act out his negative emotions. Instead, he made a decision to respond in a more positive (emotionally mature) way. Notice how that decision resulted in a shift in his emotional energy.

I define emotional maturity as the ability to make good, positive, healthy choices during the challenges of life. The following chart illustrates some of the differences in the mindset of someone who is acting emotionally immature vs. mature.

Emotional Immaturity

Emotional Maturity

  • Reactive (Life happens to me)
  • Act out emotions
  • Governed by habit
  • Come from fear/scarcity
  • “Have to” motivation
  • Getting (self-centered)
  • Seek security and self-protection
  • Avoid failure, rejection, discomfort
  • Separation/alienation from others
  • Live in the past/future
  • Proactive (I make choices)
  • Act on emotions
  • Governed by vision/purpose
  • Come from love/abundance
  • “Choose to” motivation
  • Giving (other-centered)
  • Step outside comfort zone
  • Seek growth
  • Unity/goodwill with others
  • Live in the present

Key Moments

I call difficult, upsetting events “key moments.” These are events that trigger strong emotions and so it is easy to become defensive or reactive.

We experience key moments every day. Some are relatively minor (a child knocking over a glass of milk) or others quite threatening (watching a child flounder or losing a job).

Consciously or unconsciously, we make choices during our key moments, and the quality of our lives is determined by these choices. If we make good choices we grow in confidence, personal effectiveness, and enjoyable relationships (emotional maturity). When we make poor choices we become less effective, eventually feeling like nothing more than a pawn of life circumstances (emotional immaturity).

However, making good choices is not easy. In fact, Hal (from the incident above) could not sustain his intent to be cordial and cooperative. He totally lost his composure when his former partners threatened him with a lawsuit. Hal eventually regained his bearings and learned to respond positively to such key moments, but not before sinking into a morass of self-pity and vengeance.

How to Become Emotionally Mature

I’m going to suggest that our key moments are how we develop emotional maturity. We don’t become more mature when the waters of life are calm and placid and everything is going our way. We grow in maturity when in turbulent, choppy waters; when tempted to act out our fears, hurts, or resentments.

So the question is, how do we develop emotional maturity? Here are five steps to go through when you face the key moments of your life.

Think about a recent key moment. Then read the five steps and apply them to your situation. It’s not easy, at first, like learning any new skill. But as you practice, you’ll get better. You’ll gradually become more emotionally mature, living on the right rather than left side of the chart up above.

Step 1: Be present.

You can’t choose better responses to your key moments if you’re asleep at the wheel. You have to wake up and become fully conscious and present to what is happening both within and around you. If not alert and aware, you’ll quickly slip into old, habitual, negative ways of reacting. Being present does not making responding easy. But it does put you in the driver’s seat. It makes it possible. So, thinking about your key moment, what was the triggering event? What, specifically, about the event triggered your reaction? What were your thoughts? Feelings? What did you do? What were the consequences?

By being present you begin to take your power back. In fact, do you realize that this moment is all you have? When can you be happy (or miserable)? When can you be confident? When can you make choices? It all happens in this moment, not the past or future. Being present to this moment is the gateway to change and emotional maturity.

Step 2: Embrace Reality.

Reality is “what is” or “the way things are.” It exists independently of your opinions about it. Embrace it and find peace. Resist it and experience pain and frustration. Some of your realities you chose (career, who you married) and others were thrust upon you by your heritage (your stature, age) or other factors outside your control. Nevertheless, they form the boundaries or parameters within which you live and make choices daily. This is not to say that you can’t change some realities. Some you can. Some you can’t. But at this moment (which is the only moment that is real), what is, is. To be happy and effective, you must acknowledge and respect rather than fight against the realities of your life.

Denying, avoiding, complaining, or refusing to think about uncomfortable realities gives those very things incredible power over your life. For example, if you are worried about your finances, sit down and take stock of exactly where you are — how much you owe and exactly how you will pay it off. Fun? No. Uncomfortable? Certainly. But by taking ownership of the reality, you’ve now equipped yourself to change it. Do the same with any reality that you’ve been resisting or avoiding.

Step 3: Exercise Responsibility.

Responsibility has to do with the choices you make about how to think, feel and act about reality. The quality of your life depends on your ability to make good choices—choices consistent with your best self and long-term best-interest—in spite of what happens to you. Your personal experience and the results you get in life are influenced, not determined, by circumstances, events, and other people. Between an event and your response is a moment, however fleeting, when you decide whether to surrender control and react automatically, or to interrupt a negative pattern and search out responses more in alignment with your long-term self-interest.

So again, think about your key moment. What choices did you make? What were the consequences? What other choices might you have made? How would they have led to a different outcome?

Step 4: Clarify Your Vision.

What do you really want? What is most important to you? Being clear about your vision gives you the motivation or incentive to make good choices when in a key moment. It is easy to follow the path of least resistance or act out negative emotions. But, if you’ve thought about what you want, if you have a clear vision of the outcomes you desire for yourself and others, then it becomes easier to delay immediate gratification and exercise the discipline to make a positive and strengthening choice. A clear vision allows you to be ruled by something other than impulse and circumstance. Define what you want. Deepen it so that it becomes more important than what you’re currently getting.

Step 5: Act from Integrity.

This is where the rubber meets the road. No excuses. No whining. Acting from integrity is bringing what you say and do into alignment with what you really want. It is acting consistently with your higher vision. It is living by commitment rather than ease, discipline rather than convenience. Acting from integrity requires that you give up short-term payoffs (immediate gratification, escape, avoidance, self-indulgence, revenge, etc.) for something that is bigger or more fulfilling in the long-run. It requires that you pay a price (delay of gratification, quieting your tongue, facing a problem, entering into a difficult conversation, etc.). The price you pay is like your admission into the world of emotional maturity. You’ve earned it.

So, consider your key moment. What new choices could you make? What new actions are you willing to take? Things won’t magically change. You change them by making new choices and behaving in a new way.

Hal faced one key moment after another. Kind of like all of us. Initially, he didn’t handle them well. He wanted to defend himself. He wanted others to change. But gradually, he learned better ways of responding. He grew up. He became emotionally mature.

“By the way Hal,” Janine [Hal’s former secretary] added, “you really impressed the partners with the way you handled yourself at the board meeting. They don’t talk about anything else. They’ve actually stopped referring to you as ‘Mr. Cowboy.’”

“And here I thought I was the Lone Ranger.”

Janine chuckled. “Anyway, I was sure, after the meeting, they would drop the law suit, so I was really surprised when I heard you’d been served papers. The only explanation is that Charlie harangued them into going forward. That man!”

“He did what he thought he had to do, replied Hal.”

“Don’t you go being magnanimous. It makes me feel ashamed to be angry, and I want to be angry!”

Hal went back to his work, but thoughts of Charlie kept intruding. He had plenty to hold against the man. Charlie had turned his partners against him, cost him his job, stolen his dream. He was low-balling Hal out of ownership in the company, which also affected his family. Still, he wasn’t angry. Unlike Janine, he didn’t even want to be angry. Excerpt from The Hero’s Choice: Leading from the Inside Out

Hal faced many key moments and was gradually able to change how he reacted to these events. Rather than simply act from fear and anger, he learned to respond in positive and healthy ways. And, as he did so, he matured.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how mature or immature you are today, you can become less reactive and more emotionally mature as you learn the principles and skills to do so.

I’d love to support you in this journey. Sign up for my newsletter and get a free copy of a PDF version of my book The Hero’s Choice: Living from the Inside Out and learn skills to become more emotionally mature.

About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit>.

165 responses to “How to Become Emotionally Mature”

  1. Jessica says:

    I just got through reading your book and it was amazing! It really applied to my life right now and it holds the key ingredients to changing my life and how I choose to manage it. THANK YOU!!

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for the nice note. I’m glad you enjoyed it and found it useful for what you’re dealing with now. I took a look at your blog and it sounds like you’ve had some hard things going on. However, I loved reading your insights and how you’re dealing these challenges. So good for you for making good choices along the way.

  2. I just took an EQ and found my self to be faking bad. I know i was doing it. I am 26 yrs old but somehow i find my self not so mature emotionally. I want to be one because i want to develop and be stable in this aspect. Tanx for ur blog, sir.

  3. yong zhou says:

    i’m 25 yrs old.I feel I occupy most aspects of Emotional Immaturity part mentioned in your chart,and it’s good to see this .I’ll improve myself following your steps ..thanks for your blog.

  4. Mario Alvarado says:

    Can’t say much but to tell you i needed to read this. I’m 19 and going through some tough stuff. Found myself at the bottom but now I’m getting back up. thank you dr.

    • Roger Allen says:

      I’m glad you’re getting back up, Mario. We can program ourselves to react in better ways to the challenges of life. It requires building new habits.


  5. Caleigh says:

    Dr. Allen,

    I want to thank you for putting this online. I need help, and I don’t even know where to start. I continually fight with the most important person in my life because of my emotional immaturity. I react defensively without thinking when I feel as though I care more about him than vice versa, and I would love to change, but the thing is, in the moment, I react too quickly to take the time to slow down and realise that what I’m about to say is hurtful and wrong. I know I have a problem and I would do anything to be free of the insecurities and immaturity that make me so defensive.

    I feel worried that I won’t be able to do it and that I will continue to hurt this wonderful person and myself. Freud would say I have an overactive id.

    I will do as you suggest and take this process one day at a time, like developing a new muscle group. I don’t know how regularly you check your blog, but I would absolutely love any suggestions you have for ways in which I can slow my reactions down long enough to inject some logic into them and stop hurting us both.

    Thank you, Dr. Allen.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Caleigh,

      I appreciate you reaching out. And good that you’re not simply blaming your boyfriend but recognize your responsibility for your emotional reactions. I have a process called Stop-Look-Listen-Choose that is a strategy for dealing with these situations. That is what you need, a strategy, something tangible that you can do when in the middle of a “key moment” in order to interrupt your old pattern and choose a better, more empowering response. You can absolutely learn to handle this differently. Your current responses are a habit. You can break the habit and instill a new habit by using this method. By the way, it is found in my book, The Hero’s Choice, which will give you a better overall understanding of the process and it’s power. In the meantime, I’ll send you an email with the steps as an attachment.

      Thank you for sharing with us. Lots of people struggle with their emotions.
      Roger Allen

      • Negar says:

        Dear Dr.

        I hope my notes find you well. This is a 31 year old girl from Iran. My name is Negar. I cannot tell you how much your article helped me. I was searching for emotional maturity and i found this amazing article. How can i contact you? Can i have your email? Just to share my story with you and let you know how your article helped a person million miles away 🙂

        • Hi Negar. I’d love to hear your story. send it to

          • Haleema says:

            Hey doctor please I need your help in the aspect of crying when it comes to anxiety like I end up crying a lot and then I would be really worked up I would be unable to sleep I would over think and I then I end up having a terrible headache

            • Hi Haleema. Is this ongoing or more recent? How much of your anxiety is related to Covid-19? the good news is that anxiety is very treatable through a variety of methods. One recommendation is to learn to calm your body by doing some slow, deep breathing and see if this helps you calm down. I’d also recommend you do a form of meditation, maybe even mindfulness meditation. You can find apps (headspace or Insight Meditation) to help with this or even do a search on youtube. Are you familiar with Cognitive Behavior Therapy? It is a way of surfacing your thoughts and challenging their distortions. You might even try doing a thought dump in which you write down all the negative thoughts going through your head, not necessarily in the middle of your anxiety but afterwards. Then step back and look at them to determine how objective they are. We have a tendency to catastrophize when we’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. We make things bigger than they are. You can gain some perspective by looking at your thoughts more objectively and then writing down another story or set of thoughts that will help you feel better. Sometimes, if anxiety persists, it can be good to get professional help, as well. My best to you.
      • Allyson says:

        Hi Dr.

        I would actually love to learn more about your tool called “Stop-Look-Listen-Choose” as well, I’m someone who often reacts from emotion, automatic response, and triggers, this would be incredibly helpful! Thank you.


        • Bre says:

          Dr. Allen, I would like to get your “Stop-Look-Listen-Choose” strategy also. I am finally recovering from BPD after wrecking my life and others because of my reacting to emotional triggers, many related to unhealed extreme domestic violence growing up and complex PTSD from it. I’m 53, and finally getting over it. On antidepressants, anti anxiety meds and prazocin for the PTSD memories that I’m finally allowing myself to not fight back or use addictions to force back down. And I’m still alive, after a very shameful suicide attempt last year. I still haven’t faced my family after it, but I’m going to bite the bullet this week and contact my brother. I want to live the life I’ve never allowed myself until now to dream of living. This includes opening a domestic violence support and recovery center in my mother’s name, to help other women break the cycle and get out. My mother never found the courage or right people in her life to get out, and had 2 children who were traumatized because she didn’t have the social support to break the cycle. This fear of abandonment has controlled my whole life, and I’m finally realizing how my father felt it so strongly he became severely abusive to all of us because we couldn’t fix it, no human could have. So he retaliated with frustration intolerance and violence for 51 years with Mom, and 23 years to me. Only this past year have I become able to make sense of it, and understand he was mentally ill himself. And Mom was a depressed, withdrawn domestic violence wife dominated by fear, guilt and shame her entire adult life because of his craziness. Only now am I truly believing I was not the cause of his behaviors, and I’ve spent all these years in shame and feeling humiliation that others judged me the way he did, even those who never met me. I reacted as if they rejected me, or was emotionally triggered by some clue to repressed memories and reacted to that. People think I’m some mean, vindictive monster, but I was scared of them. I’m finally breaking the cycle. I’d appreciate your advice–don’t have $ or insurance right now that covers therapy, but I read all I can find.

      • vanessa says:

        Could I get a copy of the email as well. with guidance steps

        • Hi Vanessa. Look for my email to you personally. I sent you a document entitled, Stop-Look-Listen-Choose. Let me know if you were asking for more resources.

          • Eksnir says:

            Hello Dr Allen,
            Thank you so much for this article, it has helped me tremendously with realizing how emotionally immature I am and how badly I want to change that. I am also very curious about your Stop-Look-Listen-Choose method, and I would love to read more about this. I think this would really help me get a good start in developing more emotional maturity.
            Kind regards, Eksnir

          • You are welcome, Eksnir. I’ll send you a copy of the Stop-Look-Listen technique and think you’ll find it valuable as you face your key moments day to day.

      • Alma Johansson says:

        Dear Dr. Allen, I would love to receive a copy of your Stop-Look-Listen-Choose instructions. I have, upon moving in with my boyfriend, realized that I am very emotionally immature. I want to change so that I will not hurt him more than I already have, and so that we can be together. He is the one person to treat me well and I feel that I have not given him the same treatment back.
        Thanks in advance!

    • Ri says:

      Hi! I find myself doing the same thing. I thought I had my life all set and perfect. But meeting this person I have realised I am very emotionally immature, overly senstive and hurtful. I would like to know how your doing and what steps should I be taking to change myself on a daily basis. Thank you so much!

  6. Caleigh says:

    Thank you very much, Dr. Allen. I await your email.

  7. Renee says:

    Dr. Allen,

    I was able to search the topic at hand in my situation through a google search engine and this page came up umonst many others. This insert from the book , was my choice from all so far. I’m helping an high school sweetheart, my first love in my youth. We reunited last year with a call from him and him remebering an item i gave him that 20 yrs ago i told him if he found it I would like it back due to it belonging to my mother , so i thought. Well he remebered and invited him over. A month later after deciding first to help him due to him asking for help with a couple of things because his wife had passed from cancer three months earlier, we reunited. { yes too quickly] nevertheless the situation didnt realy get difficult until event after event collapsed around his status at residence. I wasnt prepared nor did i even imagine that this could happen. loss after loss after loss , i stuck by him almost enabling his behavior without my knowing it at first. Now a year later he has been difficult to cut off due to emotional imaturity. We are two different levels completely and no matter where im at i can still mature a better indivdual but he is far worse and is about the age of seven to twelve acting out behaviors and displaying defending and making excuses such as the child inside him but two personalities are at conflict from what i can tell. Im mature in thinking but what i say doesnt seem to stick. I broke up with him and agreed to be a friend moreso than an girlfriend when in reality it is like im a babysitter. I have my own problems and have carried him through a support when he got off prescription pain killers, a cat , his pet suffered and had to be put down and the eviction of his home from accompianied neighbors petioned him to leave his home at a mobile park. he is generaly a simple and somewhat kind man, twenty percent of the timee, the rest arrogant , unlearned with manners and no concept of concidering time or responsibility in a real sense to mke change in his life. Should i print him this article and give it to him, sometimes i feel as though he could be conning me to stay helping him and the remining four indoor cats he now houses in a trailer . he isnt working and has no functionality but if i cant make him mature, or what i advise even if he begs me for help and doesnt try to make real change i must cut him off because it brings me backwards in my growth as a healthy individual. I ask what is this guy , is he conning me or realy sick ? He defitenly acts as though he could be crutching on me for a security emotion but i know it isnt a healthy or mature thing to be in a realationship if it isnt enhancing the best within ourelves. I would like to know if anything at all besides the book you wrote [ i cant afford it ] will help such as me printing this article and simply handing it him now outside where he has been for a week now living out of the trailer.

    thank you so very much for taking time in reading my question

  8. Sander says:

    Dear dr,

    Great does one deal with an emotionally immature love interest?or can one?thanks.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Thanks, Sander. If I understand your question, you are talking about your own love interest, right? I would recommend dealing with it by making a list of all the ripoffs (negative consequences) for getting caught up in this love interest. Make it a long, even painful, list. Magnify the consequences and imagine them as real, today. Let yourself feel that pain. Ripoffs are usually delayed so we opt for the short term payoff of the negative behavior, instead, since it is immediate. But the ripoffs need to be greater than the payoffs.

      I would also think deeply about the rewards of not falling into an immature love. What do you have to gain in the long run? Magnify this as well. Then make a very conscious decision to say “no.” Take action of setting necessary boundaries. Move forward don’t look back. Act from your integrity and vision of what is most important to you and not momentary feelings or circumstances.

  9. nilsa says:

    my parents tell me to be mature all the time thing is i dont know what they mean and i dont fully understand how to act mature i want to be mature but im the youngest so i mainly am the immature one of the family (next to my step brother). how to i become mature? how can i get there?

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Nilsa,

      I’d have a talk with your parents and ask them to be specific about what they mean my more mature. Actually, that act in and of itself, shows a lot of maturity. Then think about what they tell you. Ask yourself which of those things you’d like to work on. Or ask yourself what you believe you can do to be more mature. Don’t try to do everything at once. Work on one thing at a time, and make sure it is your plan you are working on, even though others give you feedback. Roger

  10. april says:

    Thank you ! For this Wonderful article : ) It is one of my many new year resolutions to improve an grow heatlier emotionally ect.. and by far this is one of my favorites! Love the Stop-look-listen-choose technique it really helps! Thanks,

  11. Kim Bicket says:

    Hi Roger, thank you so very much for your commitment in helping others learn to live more healthy and satisfied lives. I read your book a few years ago and took one of your seminars “Live Big” both have had a positive impact on my life. I love reading all the comments from the people using your teachings. I am so encouraged by the youth that are really getting it. I am 48 years old and still working on emotional maturity, once you reach a certain mark of maturity, its amazing how life will force you to dig even deeper. I came to your site today to find some inspiration to keep me going. It worked. I’ve done pretty good over the last couple years but I know I can do better. I am ready to read your book again and challenge myself to really live from the inside out, not the outside in, once again.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Kim,

      It is very good to hear from you and reconnect. I enjoyed, very much, your participation in the “Live Big” seminar a few years back. Our growth is an ongoing process. The years bring perspective and wisdom.


  12. Jake Lee says:

    Hey Roger, all i really want in life is to be a good person but usually when i talk to people i say things that i later wish i could have said differently. I know we’re all human and we all make mistakes but i feel like that doesn’t apply here, could you help me with this?

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Jake,

      The first step in change is awareness. Second is “owning up.” It sounds like you are now doing both. I would be happy to help you, if you let me know what you have in mind.


  13. Lisa Jane says:

    I really need this. I’m tired of being a victim of circumstances or perpetually disappointed and angry when things do not work out the way I would like them to. I was very abused as a child and raised by very reactive immature people. These habits are so habitual that I really don’t know where to start. I am highly motivated though. It feels so daunting right now in this moment, but I believe the time is right and that I am ready. Thank you so much for you wisdom.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lisa,

      You are welcome and I’m glad to hear that the time is right for you. It is quite a journey to take responsibility for yourself, especially when you were abused and raised by immature people. However, I also believe that the human spirit is resilient, the past does not determine our destiny and we all have the ability to make new choices, in favor of life and love. I hope the best for you in your journey.

      Roger Allen

  14. Lanre says:

    Dear roger
    i am been faced with a big problem which is anger and anxiety i dont know i can let this go off me because i am fed up i have experienced this along time ago and i dont know what i can do,please kindly advice me

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lanre,

      Sorry to hear about this problem. I do know that people can work through issues of anger and anxiety. It often takes professional help or at least a neutral and supportive person to listen and hear you out and then help you know how to let it go. I could recommend a few books: Loving What Is by Byron Katie or Feeling Good by David Burns. Let me know how this goes.


  15. Ayaya Inuen Ayaya says:

    Dear Roger

    I am very happy because you have brought solutions to my problem. You have informed my mind through your online write up. God bless you.

  16. Emma says:

    Hi Roger

    Many thanks for this wonderful insight.
    I was searching online today after another huge row with my partner which, again, resulted in him sleeping in the other room out of his frustration.

    We are very bad at communicating, and I had always just put it down to our different cultures. However, he called me childish last night after I reacted to his confrontation in my usual way. He told me that I don’t listen and jump on the defence all the time, that the world does not always revolve around me and that I shouldn’t twist things to make myself the victim. My first reaction was hurt and anger to hear these words from the person I love, and then my second was to think how horrible and unfair he is. But, as this occurs too frequently, I decided to look into the possibility that I could be emotionally immature.

    I read several articles before this one about “what is emotional immaturity?”, and was shocked to see in writing the way I behave. Ironically, my first reaction was to try and mould the words to put the blame onto my partner, to tell myself that it was describing him – not me, and it was then that it hit me. I am the emotionally immature person.
    After accepting this really could be the case I next searched ” how to become emotionally mature?” and this page jumped out at me.
    Again, I first despised your chart that highlights the differences because I didn’t want to be the person on the left! Alas, I now realise that it all makes sense.
    I am sure that my partner has his issues as well, I know he does, but that is for him to fix – not me. The only thing I can do to help our bad communication is to alter my own reactions.

    I especially related to what Caleigh had written above, and the stop-look-listen-choose technique sounds like it could really work for me. But, as usual, I can feel the anxiety building in my chest and it feels like an impossible task to change. But I don’t want to run away from my problems any more, I want to confront them. I’m scared I don’t know how or that I’ll break under the pressure and revert back to my old habits. If you still have the attachment regarding stop-look-listen-change I would really appreciate it if you could forward it to me. I am determined to change the way I think because I know how much it is holding me back.

    I have let far too many great opportunities pass me by because I was scared of the failure. I reasoned that it is better to never really try because then at least you don’t get the pain or embarrassment of failing. But enough is enough. I am soon to be 30 and I want to embrace the next chapter of my life without holding myself back.

    Many thanks again for the article, I hope that I can use the information and make today count.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Emma,

      I appreciate your heartfelt and honest comment. I have to tell you that the journey to emotional maturity is not easy. However, you have taken the most difficult step. Your realization that you have been acting like the victim and blaming your partner for the dynamic that is occuring and your willingness to take responsibility for your reactions and the quality of your relationship is, in and of itself, an act of great emotional maturity. So, I say congratulations! You get it. The opportunity is now yours to continue on this path by continuing to own your part in what is happening and by learning to make new, more empowering choices. I’m going to send you my technique of Stop-Look-Listen-Choose, via email. I also recommend my book, The Hero’s Choice: Living from the Inside Out which treats this topic directly. (Sorry for the promotion but I recognize you need some support in this journey. This is some long-distance support I can give you.) And now I wish you all the best and please, I’d be happy to hear back. Let me know how its going.


      • Steph says:

        Hello Roger,
        Reading this comment from Emma, I could swear it was written by me. The parallels to the situation Emma was in to what I currently am experiencing is uncanny, the inter culture relationship, the feedback her partner gave her and the process she went through to stumble upon your website and this article. Seeing in writing a list of behaviours and habits that describe emotional immaturity tonight, I realised it is me.
        I have had a life changing lightbulb moment and am aware now that I am emotionally immature. I am hoping this realisation can help me on the road to break my deep habits to stop this continuous cycle of self and relationship sabotage. I find myself in the same situation repeatedly and despite me thinking I can change, change never occurs.
        I would really like to read about your Stop-Look-Listen-Choose technique please. I am soon to be 30 and until now feel as though I have held myself back from many opportunities and experiences through fear of criticism or ‘making the wrong decision’. I have let life slip by and I want to make a change and start living truthfully and more full, for not only myself but for my partner and future family.
        Thank you for this article, I am so grateful to have found this and your work.

        • Hi Stephanie. It is good to know that my article has been enlightening to you. The pathway to emotional maturity begins with awareness and self-honesty. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the concept of “mindfulness” but it is a good entry and pathway to your growth. I recommend you read and learn about the concept and learn to put it into practice. My process of Stop-Start-Listen-Choose is one way of becoming more mindful and learning to make better choices. I’ll send you a copy since I have your email address.


  17. James says:

    Hi Roger fantastic article and very inspiring. Sorry for the stuff I am about to ask you but I really need some help.
    I am an absolute mess and only recently I’ve found that this is what is wrong with me, before I thought I was paranoid, hormonal imbalance, OCD and in general crazy. I am do insecure in myself I have no confidence or assurance in myself. I admire other people and observe other people and admire their mannerisms and how head strong and self assured they are it almost turns to envy. I am affected so much by outside influences and have no control over my emotions. I feel immature and feel like an innocent child with no self esteem. I am 23 and still live with my parents and no job. I want a job but have no confidence to get one. At times I feel emasculate and font feel like a man which makes the insecurity worse. All this makes me feel unhappy all day everyday. There are some times when I feel normal, sometimes it lasts a couple of days, other times I can make it last a week if I’m lucky. During this time I feel free and feel comfortable, masculine and very driven almost over enthusiastic then it will go away and I’ll be back to where I was. Incantbeven focus around people because I’m always thinking about what other people are thinking and always anxious and nervous. What can I do about this? I am currently waiting on an appointment with a psycharitrist. I just want to be normal and live my life but this is pinning me down and stopping me from growing up, please your thoughts wil help greatly

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi James,

      I’m glad to hear that you’ve got an appointment to see someone. There are times when all of us need to reach out to others and ask for help. Working with someone can bring safety, perspective and stability. So good luck.

      It sounds like you have given lots of power to everyone but yourself. Their judgments, not even their judgments but your perception of their judgments (which are more than likely inaccurate most of the time) matter more to you than your own. Take some time to identify your good qualities, your strengths, what you like about yourself. Make that list and then read and re-read it so you believe it. Use this as a foundation on which to build more confidence. Carry this list with you and get it out and review it as you need to during the day. Empower the list and say “no” to the judgments you perceive to be coming from others.

  18. Me says:

    Hi Roger,

    I have been thinking a lot recently about ‘professional people’ – my friends who are good at their jobs seem to have that professional persona not only at work but also with their personal interactions: acting rather than reacting, a positive demeanor, maintaining good relationships with most people in their lives. I am seeing how important emotional maturity is and how much easier it can be in the working world if you implement these skills elsewhere. I am a very kind, sensitive and intuitive person who understands people pretty well, the flipside of this is that I am too emotional in ‘key moments’ when I should just step back and breathe (the stop look and listen steps you were referring to?) I feel my working life could also massively be improved where it is imperative that you at least can uphold a half decent emotional matureness to cope with certain situations. Any ideas/insights/general thoughts about this topic?! Thanks and a great article that has certainly made me stop and think!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Emma,

      You are creating a good solution for yourself. As you say, learn to step back and breathe rather than react during your key moments. Think about your bigger vision. What will happen if you react in a weakening way? Is that the outcome you want? What outcome do you want? What is most important to you? Visualize yourself not reacting but responding in a way that is consistent with who you want to be and the vision you want to achieve. Then make a deliberate choice to respond to the key moment in a strengthening way, a way that is consistent with your bigger self, your long term vision. This is hard work. It takes practice, but results in much better outcomes.


  19. James says:

    Thank you Roger for your response, I think you hit the nail on the head, I am controlled by my surroundings. I feel out of sync with myself during these periods, I am currently in one of these periods at the minute, it is living hell, I can’t socialise or be around anyone and can’t even talk in the phone because I literally have no self confidence at all. I feel emotionally numb, sometimes what brings me out of these periods for a while us when I feel emotional feelings towards someone or something then it feels like it triggers my inner person and then for a while I’m fine, I feel great, confident, happy and ambitious then il crash again. I also feel incredibly insecure in myself and this makes me feel immature and child like, my head is uncontrollable and sometimes it feels like I am going insane. I just want to be normal and live a fullfilling life. I will do as you said to do and make a list, is there anything else you cans advise me to do, how I can stay in my zone and not be affected by the outside world? Once again thank you for taking time out if your day to reply.

  20. jane says:

    Hi Roger,
    Im about to go to work when i found this to boost myself for today. I am 24 and working in a manufacturing industry.i have always been told im a childish and couldnt handle pressure maybe because i tend to getreactive and cry everytime i get stressed up. The fact that maybe i am too young to be called an engineer and the fact that im a female makes it even worse when it comes to making decision. I feel that i do not get support. I dont know whether i am going through a correct channel by seeking advice here but i dont think i fit in this industry. If not for financials, i would have resigned. And i dont think i am developing myself. I tend to t worse when i cant talk when i am in a crowd… I feel so distrupted. I need your advice whether i should stay? I want to be a professional engineer but i dont think this place is ever going to take me there.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Jane,

      I’m glad the article gave you a boost. It would be hard for me to give you advice, knowing so little, about whether to stay in your job or this industry. However, I wouldn’t be too quick to walk away from a good job. Instead, go to work on yourself. Why do you get reactive and cry when you feel stress or have a hard time making a decision? These are deeper issues than your current job or whether or not you fit this industry. (Congratulations, by the way, for earning a degree in engineering. That is not an easy path and something you can be proud of.) It may be that your current job is not a good fit and you should search for something better. However, someone once said, “wherever I go, there I am.” We take our personal issues with us wherever we go. That does not mean that some environments are not more positive and empowering than others. But, I would start by doing some personal work. Follow the steps that I outlined in my article, to learn to be less reactive and act more from a higher vision, what you really want in the long-run.


  21. Carol says:

    Dearest Dr. Allen,
    I am in the exact same situation as Emma and Caleigh and I am looking forward to reading your book. Could you please, if possible, email me the Stop-Look-Listen-Choose steps as this would really help me at the moment.
    I am very grateful.
    Thank you Dr Allen.

  22. Alex Jones says:

    Yesterday at work one of my buddies called me immature and later that day I started to think about what he said. So I hopped on google and I found myself here. This entire bit describes me completely. On a scale of 1 to 10 my emotional maturity is a 2. I really want to turn it around. This is what I’ve been missing my whole life I feel like. I’m 18 and should be a freshman in college. I am very reactive, I let life happen. I act out my emotions rather than acting on them. Everything that you described as someone who acts emotionally immature. I need help badly

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Alex,

      I appreciate your honesty. That is the beginning of change. In fact, that is a huge first step. Most people can’t admit it and so they never deal with it. Your emotionally honesty is actually an act of emotional maturity. You have it in you. You need to practice the steps in my article and other resources and positive people who will support you in your journey.

      Roger Allen

  23. Kerry says:

    Dear Dr Allen

    It’s taken me quite a long process but a nasty break-up many years back and moving to a city where I finally feel at home, I’ve made good headway and can tick pretty much all of the ‘Mature’ traits on the list. This year has been particulary significant because I met a wonderful man that loved me and now I’ve lost him as I was still harbouring a deep fear of rejection and abandonment. I’ve seen somebody about it and I think I’m almost there and I’m feeling like I’m maybe, fnally becoming a woman! The main thing now though is the vision bit, I just don’t really have a real strong passion, I’ve started a new course to learn to be a teacher and for the first time I’m not talking myself out of it or telling myself that I can’t do it, but I don’t know what my vision is or what really drives me. It’s weird but I just don’t have a clue about this element.

    Can you help?


    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Kerry, I’m very happy to hear about the progress you’ve made. It sounds like you have been deliberate about your growth and are realizing some big rewards. Congratulations!

      It is hard to force passion. I have found it critical to clear out the “shoulds” from other people so that you have the emotional space to look deeply into your own heart. Journaling is helpful. I like to ask questions like–what brings you great joy? What are your interests? Talents? What have you felt most successful at in the past? What would you do if you could not fail? If you had a magic wand, what would you make different in the world? What would you do if you had only one year to live? Give it time to emerge. Let me know how it goes.


  24. Lima says:

    This article is excellent! I ran across your website by chance and have read a few articles and they are wonderful.. Simple yet full of truth!

    I had a very similar experience with Hal and his mother. I had a similar relationship with my mother where I found her emotionally unavailable. However, I like Hal gave her a hug and at first it was awkward, however I could feel and see her opening up! I can say that our relationship has never been better and now I realize that it was me, not her, that was unwilling to take the initiative.

    Thank you so much for your insight. God bless and peace to you and your family!! 🙂

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lima, Thank you. I’m please you found my blog. I’m happy that your relationship with your mother has never been better. It sounds like you’ve found an important key to improving your relationships by letting go of judgment, blame, offense, assumptions, etc. and showing her the love you have desired to feel from her. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your experience.


  25. Carmen says:

    Dearest Dr Roger,

    Life has definitely thrown me lemons, and i’ve never quite got to making the lemonade, up until this point.
    How do you stop the negative thoughts, how do I personally stop wanting what others have? I am angry/frustrated that others have not gone through such hard realities and yet still have everything? Its almost like they are handed life on a silver platter, the perfect family, the perfect husbands wealthy at that, pretty much perfect everything. while the rest of us minions do not have the same luxuries.( Pitty party tickets R40 each please, that’s $4, tickets on sale at the door:) How do I become the change ? I don”t want to feel so negative all the time. I feel super incompetent in my work life and personal…. This must change! and pronto!!!


    also loving the book……

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Carmen,

      You can change this, but it will depend on shifting your focus. True, there are people who have it better than you, but also people who are less fortunate than you. If you continually compare yourself to those who seem to have what you want then you will always be depressed and feel sorry for yourself. I would advise you to stop comparing. That, not other people, is your enemy. It (comparing) is something you are doing to yourself. Focus, instead, on what is GOOD ABOUT YOU and your life. As you see this your life will begin to change. Not only will you become happier but also able to attract more positive into your life. What do you really want? Focus on that and create a plan to help you get there. It is a journey. It will take some time but you will see progress and gradually start a virtuos, positive rather than self-defeating cycle. Let me know how it goes.


  26. nasreenafzal says:

    I am looking forward to read this book. Thankyou and please do suggest me any good tips to recognise ones inner self and to maintain ones self respect

  27. Scheneeka says:

    Hello Roger,

    It has come to my attention that I am emotionally immature. A conversation I had with someone brought this revelation to the surface. At first, I just ignored the comment. Then I googled “how to become emotionally mature” and this page caught my eye. And guess what, I live on the left side of the list. I will be buying your book (I like the hard copy) and give it a go. I want a better life. People always say that if you want a better life make better choices, and that is what I aim to do. Thank you.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Scheneeka,

      You are on your way. It is a sign of emotional maturity to look yourself in the mirror and decide you need to change. This personal responsibility is a big step forward. Good luck in your journey and keep me posted.


  28. Danielle says:

    All my life I have been immature. I’m about to turn eighteen and I can tell that I am still very immature but I have a hard time accepting that I am growing up. I’m afraid of what the future will bring. After reading this this actually helps me and makes me realize that it is okay so thanks a lot!!!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Growing up is a lot less scarey if you are willing to be responsible (in the driver’s seat) of your life. I’m glad the article helped. Keep your focus on learning to make good choices. Roger

  29. Grace says:

    I am only 14 and I like this boy in my class but I don’t think its just a “crush” I have thought he is really sweet and had him on my mind for 3 years, we went out once but his friends were pressuring him and I knew I was the cause so I ended it for his sake (because he is really shy and has no dating history to help him and neither do I). We get on really well, always play fighting and joking but I don’t know if he just wants to be friends or if I should tell him how I feel? I am in desperate need of advice, don’t suppose you have anyway I can show him how I feel or solve the frustration of my shyness around him? When someone brings up our relationship we had I go all red and he goes red to but defends me, is it just him being nice or does he like me. Please answer I am sooooo confused. =(

    Thank You.

  30. Stephanie says:

    Dear Roger,

    thank you for this wonderful article. My boyfriend and I recently broke up and it was devastating. He apologized for hurting me, but after a few days I started an instropection and had a revelation… I have been emotionally immature for years which is the reason why I haven’t been able to have serious relationships… I can identify key moments in my relationships when instead of taking some time to think and react with calm, I gave in to anger and aggressivity. I am not saying my boyfriend did not make mistakes too, but the way I handled it was far more destructive and painful than what he did to me…
    I handle the breakup differently now and feel much better.
    Thanks again!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      Good for you. I’m happy to hear about your insight and responsibility you’re now willing to take for your relationships. It will take work but you’ll find much greater success and fulfillment in the future.

  31. says:

    This is the first time I frequented your website page. I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular
    post amazing. Great task!

  32. Harold says:

    Hello Mr. Allen
    I was sued last year. I hate the group that took the action, and all my thoughts toward them are of revenge. I can’t get past it, I can still see them gloating at the conference table. For some reason I won’t give up the need to get even. I believe they were wrong, and could have handled the situation better. This is eating me up inside with tension and fear.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Harold,

      I’m sorry to hear about your experience last year. It sounds like it was devastating to you. I’m also sorry that you haven’t been able to get past it. So much bitterness is not a good way to live. Let me know if I can help you work through it.

  33. Lauren says:

    I can see this is a somewhat old post, but I cannot tell you how much you have opened my eyes. I am dating a wonderful man, who I have been constantly pushing away; I am incredibly scared of rejection, abandonment, and unfaithfulness from previous relationships. This man is nothing like previous boyfriends, but somehow it is so hard for me to not compare what they did to what he “can” do as well.

    I look forward to reading your book and really hope that I can mature. We have an age difference of almost eleven years, and at first, it was hard to see the difference, but as we have fallen more in love, it is quite obvious I am emotionally immature. I become easily jealous and wonder why he is not with someone who is prettier or better for him. I am so incredibly thankful to have found this because now I hope I can have some insight and direction on how to become more secure with myself and love and trust to the best of my ability.

    Thank you so much!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lauren,

      I hope the best for you in this new relationship. The biggest win for you will be learning to interrupt old patterns of fear and jealousy and respond differently than in the past. Any relationship is going to test your ability to do this. In fact, you have to be more committed to your growth than holding onto the relationship. In fact, that is a key to holding onto the relationship, but not a guarantee. In the meantime, I’m going to encourage you to learn to love and affirm yourself. See the good that you bring to the relationship. You are showing a lot of emotional maturity by your honesty and expressions of your desire to change.

  34. Genene says:

    Thank you Dr.Allen for this blog. I too struggle with emotional immaturity. I am a very emotional woman who is also very sensitive. I become easily defensive when people correct me in a loud manner. I tend to let my emotions superseed my intelligence which is not good. I have destroyed many relationships due to be emotionally immaturity of wanting what I want “right now”. I am a “runner” I run when things get bad or reach out for instandt gratification instead of being disciplined and committed to the overall goal. Thanks for sharing.

    • Roger Allen says:

      You are welcome, Genene. I’m very happy to see and are owning up to your pattern of wanting what you want “right now.” Keep working on being committed to doing to your longer-term goal. Each time you make that choice, it will feel like a victory. Build on those small victories and you’ll be taking your life back.

  35. Kay says:

    Dr. Allen:

    I am a 21 year old mother and I’m currently engaged to a wonderful man who stepped up and became a father and so much more to my son and to me as well. For the past few months, my emotional immaturity has been rearing its ugly head and every time I feel that I’m controlling it better, I revert back to it.

    I make myself the victim every time and I always cry or get defensive whenever we have talks about us. I really love my fiancé and I really love my family we have together. Truth is, I’m emotionally weak and that’s toward everyone. I can’t stand up for myself and I’m always angry. I react out my emotions instead of positively acting on them. It’s stressful holding on to all this extra baggage and its now taking a physical toll on me. Not to mention, I finally overcame my postpartum depression this past December almost a year after my son was born.

    I don’t know how to communicate clearly and maturely which is a big thing to me. I have to learn how to properly admit to my wrongdoings (and that’s after I cause a problem) but I try to dodge things that can cause problems. I have a fear of confrontation because of my emotional immaturity and I don’t know how to properly handle things.

    The upside of reading your article and book is that I see that I really am immature and in order to keep my family and to be happy is to woman up and do what needs to be done. It’s definitely a plus knowing that there are real life scenarios in that book and a few of them talked about mines. Thank you for shining the light on this topic and without this article and book of yours, I would have been lost. Thanks a million times. I know where to start and what needs to be done properly.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Kay,

      You are welcome and thank you for your honesty, which takes humility and courage, qualities which can also help you heal. I’m glad you know where to start and believe you’ll find some good answers by reading The Hero’s Choice. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people or even professionals who can give you support in your journey. And realize it is a journey. However, you’re making big progress each time you stop and choose your response rather than reacting from your fear.

  36. shireenp says:

    dr allen,

    I was especially interested in learning about we can look at opening of the heart to improve emotional maturity. Generally people close their hearts off by building walls around it generated by the mind to protect the heart usually from past painful experiences. What are your ideas on that.


    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Shiree (?),

      What a good question. As you say, we do close our hearts to protect ourselves from pain and learning to open our hearts is one of the signs and milestones of emotional maturity. Opening our hearts requires that we be vulnerable. We can be vulnerable as we take more and more responsibility for our own experience. In other words, even if someone else rejects me (or I perceive rejection), I still have choices. I can decide what this means, how to feel, what to do. If I’m responsible for my feelings then another’s comments may sting but won’t devastate me. My self-worth comes from within and not from without. In this way I can grow to be more and more confident and open my heart, be vulnerable, take risks with other pe