How to Become Emotionally Mature

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

depressed, emotionally immature man sitting by a 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 how to become emotionally mature. 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>.

166 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!!

    • Roger Allen says:

      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 🙂

        • Roger Allen says:

          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

          • Roger Allen says:
              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

        • Roger Allen says:

          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

          • Roger Allen says:

            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.

        • Roger Allen says:

          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.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Carol,

      Stop-Look-Listen-Choose is found in the Hero’s Choice. Let me know how you like the book.


  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 people. I hope this helps.


  37. Ksenia says:

    Dr. Allen,

    Thank you very much for this truly inspirational article. I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and personal development work in the past couple of years, and even though there have been a lot of improvement, it seems like I can’t get completely unstuck, like there is a very important part of the puzzle missing.

    I am nearly 35, I have a 3-year old child and what actually made me question my own maturity was that I actually realized I was not feeling like an adult, be it my role of a mother or as a professional or a partner. On the outside, I sure look grown-up, I started working at 17 and became financially independent early, I have been teaching adults for the past 9 years, but on the inside, I feel deeply insecure, I am afraid of being seen, I avoid any important decisions, I run from problems, I need what I want right now, I have alienated myself from the outer world… well, the whole “immaturity” list very accurately describes me. I also have an addictive personality, I used to be a binge eater struggling with weight and body-image issues and then I was a social alcoholic in my twenties. I guess I have outgrown these particular problems, but I know I can be self-destructive.

    For a long time I blamed my parents for my dysfunctional personality, so to speak. My dad was an alcoholic, my mother has been living in a victim role for years. I kind of thought of all my problems as “genetic defects” that little can be done about, I was just unfortunate enough to be born a loser. When I started researching emotional immaturity (I’ve read somewhere that addicts have maturity issues and got curious) and I ended up here, at your blog, I actually saw the light, because it turns out something can be done and I can change and I can make conscious choices and see the purpose of my life. I do realize it’s not easy, but the most important thing is – it’s possible.
    Thank you very much, I look forward to reading your book!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Sonya,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciated your openness and honesty and am glad that the article helped you see that there is light. It requires courage to change, which is why I call my book “The Hero’s Choice.” So often other people don’t see what is really going on. The battles we fight are private. Because it is so difficult, it is heroic to make better, strengthening choices. I believe in your ability to do so. Take some time to think about ways or times in your life when you have been on the right “maturity” column. Or imagine yourself living from this column. How do you feel? How do you talk to yourself? How do you stand and hold yourself? Keep creating this image. Ground yourself in it each day. Practice living in this way and you will become this person, not only on the outside but inside too. I wish you all the best in this most important journey.

      Roger Allen

  38. Ana says:

    Dr. Allen
    I have been on the road to maturity a really long time now n I finally got to it emotionally… I went through a lot of trauma growing up and was raised by emotionally immature adults… I had so many walls up to my real emotions, I recently went through an equal amount of abuse in a six month relationship and finally got in touch with my true emotions and feel every pain I had ever repressed… I feel like 5 or six year in my emotional maturity… I don’t even know where to start to be honest, I’ve been told step outside your comfort zone, find god, go to a psychologist… I don’t want happy pills, I believe that if my emotional issues happened without pills or drugs they can be resolved without

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Ana,
      Thanks for the note. Someone has said, the only way out is through. It is best that you face your emotional pain squarely. I do believe that God will help you if you reach out for his grace. I also believe it is okay to ask for professional help and have other people around you who love and can support you in your journey. Face the painful emotions but that doesn’t mean you need to stop there. You can also learn to make new choices as key moments occur. As you do so you take your power back and learn that your ability to make new choices will help you heal from the pain.


  39. To become a mature person, you have to work at it. Your birthday comes without effort each year, but not your maturity level.

  40. Lianka says:

    Dear Dr. Allen,

    I came across your article at a time in my life when i am in a rocky relationship because my boyfriend spends more time ( i mean everyday after work) with his drinking buddy than with me; i have brought this up several times but he does not change . We’ve been dating for over 14 months and this has been a major problem. He comes home late everyday after 11pm and some days doesn’t come home after drinking.He hangs out with this particular friend(he is 27) everyday after work , on the weekends and has even cancelled dinner plans with me because he is drinking with his friend.

    On bringing up how i feel, he says i blame him, i control him and don’t want him to be with his friends. He will be 41yrs old next year, i am 35. Would you call this emotional maturity? and how can i handle this?. I am not perfect either but i am hurt on how this is going, and even though i love him i seem to have reached breaking point.We recently talked and he said he was going to change, i said that if it doesn’t stop i will end the relationship.I need practical and realistic advise because i love him, he says he loves me too but his actions to me are contrary.

    I will also appreciate it if you send me the stop-look-listen-choose in my mail.

    Thanks and take care

  41. Rebecca says:

    Dr. Roger:

    Thank you for putting this up! I am really wanting to become more emotionally mature and your guidelines have really helped me to get a start on it!

    Thank you,


  42. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!!
    I absolutely loved every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to check out new things you post…

  43. Rakshith Gowda says:


    I am 23 year old Man, But i am not Mentally Matured, this Fast & Developing Society, it will make really fear & nervous of me, In So many situation i will use my Head, I can’t be in Myself Decision. Please Please Please suggest me in which way i will get Matured in real life. I have so many problem in my Home, I cant live real in my real life Myself… It will make that I will just Hate Myself, My parents & My situation, Please Please tell me how to rid my Immature life.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Rakshith. Find a practice to help you mature–prayer, meditation, yoga. Such practices that help us become quiet and still inside. They help us become more aware of our emotions and also help us learn to regulate our emotions. Find a practice to work through “key moments.” In my book, I recommend a four step process-Stop-Look-Listen-Choose. It’s a way to slow down, emotionally, and process what is happening during a key moment. We need structure to respond in better ways. And then we need the discipline of sticking with the structure and practicing, rather than expecting a quick fix.


  44. Philip says:

    Dear Dr. Roger,

    Thank you for your blog, it is very helpful. I come across your blog about emotional immaturity by searching aimlessly for help on google. My relationship with my wife has become increasingly toxic. I know if I do not act I will lose the most important person in my life. But it is so hard. I know I am responsible for our issues and problems; everything you categorized as “Emotional Immaturity” I am guilty of. In key moments, I would initially try to control myself from “acting out” but eventually I would almost let go. I brought up by a father who is also emotionally immature and I know how hurtful and scary to be the recipient of these emotional abuse. I want to safe my marriage and prevent my future kids from inheriting my emotional immaturity. I want to change. Your blog is a good starting point but if you could send me more instructions and advice on how to control myself during the “key moments”, it would be deeply appreciated.

    Best regards,


  45. philip says:

    Dear Dr. Roger,

    Thank you for putting this online. It has been a very useful guide. My marriage is rotting due to my emotional immaturity; I am guilty of everything you have listed on the left hand side of the box. I recognize my problems and have been trying to change but in every “key moments” I act out my emotions out of habit. It is almost like a switch itself that pour out all the negativities whenever I face negative emotions from my wife. “I can’t be unhappy and I can’t rely on you emotionally”, she repeatedly said. I need help and I hope you can provide more guidance on how I can do the right thing during these “key moments”. It will be immensely appreciated and life changing for me.

    Best regards,


    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Phillip,

      You are welcome. I’m glad this article has been useful to you.

      I want to recommend that you find another way to express your fears/negative emotions instead of directly to your wife. Some people use a journal. Some pray. Some talk to a trusted friend or professional counselor. You need an outlet, someone besides your wife. Also, in my book, The Hero’s Choice, I introduce a process for dealing with key moments-Stop-Look-Listen-Choose. I don’t know if you’ve read my book, but recommend this process as a way to work through many of your key moments. You need a process or structure that can help you think through and respond in more positive eays. This technique should provide it for you. I wish you the best. The good news is that you’re not blaming but recognize a need to change yourself. Admitting that is the first step.


      Roger Allen

  46. JB says:

    Dr. Allen,
    I am praying that God directed me to this article at this point in my life. I am 37 years old with a wife and three children (my oldest, 14, from a previous relationship who doesn’t live with me) and I live my life exactly like the list at the beginning of this article labeled “emotionally immature”. My marriage is all but over, my relationship with my daughter who doesn’t live with me is practically nonexistent, I have no friends, I have pulled away from my family and I don’t know what I want or what I want to do. I believe in God and Jesus Christ, but I don’t go to church or act very Christ-like. I can’t necessarily say “I want to change or be a good person” because I never do anything to bring about any changes. Things I’ve tried I never stay with very long. All I can say is that I want to want to change.
    My focus seems to always be on things that are not of significance. This is why my marriage is gone. I have made my wife be the one totally responsible for everything. I don’t offer any insight to any of our problems because I’m an introvert, paralyzed by guilt, fear, regret, etc. I’ve pushed her away.
    I cannot live like this anymore and I need to change. I want to want to care about others and for things that are important and of consequence. Is that possible to do?
    Fear tells me that I’ll never be able to change, that it’s too hard, but I can’t afford to believe it. I have to believe that there is a way for me to become more emotionally mature and be able to relate to others my own age. Is there something you can recommend?
    Thank you.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi JB,
      I’m sorry to hear about how difficult life is for you, now and appreciate you reaching out to me.

      You ask if there is a way for you to become more emotionally mature and be able to relate to others. My answer is yes. Let me offer a few recommendations. First, since you have faith in God and Jesus Christ, then I recommend that you spend time in prayer, pouring out your heart and letting God know of your desire to change. Invite him into your life/heart. Find a church that you can attend to worship, receive fellowship and support from other people, many of whom are struggling like you. Second, can you find a professional or another person to talk to, someone who can support you and guide you on your journey. This could be a clergyman or it could be a professional counselor or even trusted friend. There are lots of agencies that offer counseling. I’d seek one out. A third recommendation is to start making little, not big, changes. What is one thing you’d like to do differently? Make a commitment and carry it out. Doing so will help you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t matter where we are on the path of self-improvement so much as that we’re traveling in the right direction. Making progress will feel good. Here is a book I’ll recommend for you–Choosing Clarity. I think it should help you become grounded in a foundation of self-acceptance and love. Let me know how you’re doing in your journey.

      Roger Allen

  47. Mike says:

    Hi Dr Allen,

    I am a 23 yr old who has finally come to terms with the emotional issues I have been bottling up inside myself over the last 9 years which have negatively impacted my level of maturity emotionally. Due to experiences of moving constantly between environments, never feeling like I fitted in as well as not living in the healthiest of domestic environments I have struggled with building and maintaining friendships with people, my approach to women and transitioning into a relationship with them unless I can see where I can benefit, and also realised how my general inability to express my emotions comes from my poor relationship with both my parents, particularly my mother.

    I have also been struggling with education over the last 12 years, although I have somehow managed to make it to university although this year my motivation has been even more worse than ever and I may possibly be kicked out if not careful. What finally made me finally realise my own emotional immaturity was the ending of a near 4 year friendship with someone who i had deep feelings for, who also had similar emotional issues as I do although she has managed to deal with them better in spite of her struggles. The ending of the friendship was not neccessarily a bad , but it was more the trigger that caused me to push towards the decision makes me feel guilty along with my excuses. Truthfully I desire to reconcile with her but I know atm that I will have to take my time and think things through first due to my own current situation, and I want to believe that it is possible even if it takes a long time. I understand now that I ultimately am the responsible for my own happiness and the way I react to the things around me, and starting to recognise how my actions and words actually create an impression of myself which are not so positive. The points I read under emotional maturity have really hit home and while I do feel stuck and somewhat hopeless, I feel that things can change for the better if only I am more patient and honest with myself. I only hope my ability to recognise this now at my age will be the starting point of change from within before it is too late. Is the free copy of The Hero’s Choice available by any chance? I tried clicking on the link but it seems to no longer function. Thank you for posting this article and I hope it helps to change many more people’s lives.

  48. Deborah says:

    I have a question but cannot find any answers on this topic on line. My 13 year old is very emotionally mature. She has all the characteristics listed above and is extraordinarily compassionate etc. she is beautiful, thin, athletic…and cannot keep friends. It falls apart when she is not gossipy enough, exclusive enough, or says things like people should be allowed to think or love whoever they choose and such ideas. She will keep the secrets of girls who hurt her or dump her as friends etc. I mean ultra mature– can see several sides of an issue with out typically judging too much etc. when she voices a liberal opinion, others ask her if she is a lesbian or call her weird. She is not offended. In fact she recently explained, no I am not a lesbian, I like boys, but it shouldn’t matter to you. That kid now thinks she is “weird” instead. Needless to say adults adore this kid. They want their kids to be her friend and push it. She tells me that these kids don’t like her. I have watched and she is right. It is sad to see this and I have to stop myself from telling her to be more like them because I hate to see her lonely. I cannot explain it– she does not have aspergers, is not “preachy” but just isn’t “shallow” I guess. She refuses to shun anyone and thus gets shunned. Any ideas? She starts high school in the fall– new place and I am hoping she will find some like minds. It just seems like because she doesn’t “hate” everything, she is boring to peers– too open or vanilla or something. Do I just leave it alone and wait for the others to catch up? It is sad to see her wish to belong, to have sleepovers etc but then see her have friends over once and they never call or text again etc. she is the periennel aquaintance. Any advice???

    • Roger Allen says:

      Congratulations on having such a mature daughter. Rather than try to guess what support she needs from you, I’d ask her. Let her tell you how you can help. Generally, as parents, the best thing we can do is learn to listen to our children. Let her talk to you about her perceptions of what is happening. Don’t take this problem on as your own. Let her “own it.” You are a coach standing at her side rather than someone who needs to tell her what to do. You can listen and ask questions, like: “How would you like things to be?” “What options do you see?” “What are the consequences of doing this… or that…?” (her options). “How can I support you?”

      It has to be tough, but you have to let her own the problem and search for her own solutions. You can help in that process, but don’t take over.

      In the long-run, your daughter, from what you’ve told me, should do well.


      Roger Allen

  49. Hello Dr. Allen,

    I just read the article you posted, I am wondering how to get your book, I have been emotionally immature my entire life, it has cost me jobs, friends, and a whole host of other situations. I recently blew a career because of my behavior…I am 52 and terrified that I will never learn this and become a stable man. Could you please respond to me via my email and inform me of some options…I work in a professional environment where this maturity is needed…I act very childish constantly and can not seem to help myself…from telling crude jokes at inappropriate times to greeting female coworkers with a hug not even noticing that other men don’t do this…I am reactive instead of proactive…I need your help. Thank you sir.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lee. I sent you an email. Good luck in your journey. There are lots of resources to help you become more emotionally mature, including my book The Hero’s Choice: Leading from the Inside Out. Roger

  50. Anonymous says:

    Dr Roger Allen
    I searched “how to become more mature” because I’ve realised my behavior has been immature. I’m 25 years old and fit into most if not all of the list on the left column, especially separation/alienation from others. Thank you for your advice, I sure will use the 5 steps.

  51. Jummy says:

    Hello, I just realized I am emotionally immature with men. Pondered on so many things I’ve lost out in the past, the guys I’ve met, the reason I never have been in a serious relationship, and just all the reactions I’ve had as well from them and why they never wanted to take it to the next level. I grew up in an environment where i was never allowed to do things on my own, was always sheltered, and never got a chance to develop or find myself. I was or maybe still am never realistic with things. At this point, now I am beginning to accept reality and admit, I am not mature emotionally with guys. Its very hard for me, because i do not know where to start from, and please I need advice on this. Thanks for the post

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Jummy. Your realization is at least half the battle. Congratulations on your admission. Look at some of the behaviors you’re now doing that you don’t like. What would be the opposite of these behaviors? Don’t try to change everything at once. Just identify a few behaviors you’d like to change and focus on these. I’m also going to recommend a book: The Emotional Toolkit by Darlene Minnini. Roger

  52. McLeo says:

    God bless you Dr. ALLEN for the impact of your post in my life at this point. I am a 22 year old student in a Nigerian university who believes in hardwork and God as key to succes. In this my young age, i have expirienced both Great success and heart rendering failure in my academics and bussiness. One of my personal issues is that i am always depressd and shift blames to other people. Also, i now find it more difficult to concentrate on meaningful projects due to past failures. Just feel so discouraged about life.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi McLeo,

      Thanks for your comment. I want to give you a little perspective. You are young. You have many years to overcome past failures. We all fail. No one achieves success without failure along the way. But don’t wallow in the failure. What can you learn from it? And find some ways to deal with your depression, which will keep you focused on the negative. I recommend the book Feeling Good by David Burns. If helpful, find someone you can talk to, perhaps even a professional counselor. Depression colors our whole view, no matter how beautiful life.


  53. Nusaiba says:

    Dear Dr.,
    I have just turned 19, and as I was growing up all my school friends would call me a mature girl, but within me I realized that I was really sensitive and would be so sad when trivial problems would happen, but I would keep my calm and be nice and kind to people, until when my cousin came to live with me, I used to admire her before , and she was few years my senior , she would tell me how much she admires me and would copy my good qualities in a way learn from me, and after few years, I started disliking , because there was not just that unique me, there was always her copy of all good things of me as well as my hobbies …. And somehow I slacked back in being my old self, I was not anymore kind , considerate person I was but that is not it, I was in a lots of fight with her, and my whole family thinks I have gone really bad and have lots of pride and jealousy……. But it breaks my heart alot because , I am trying to be a better person, I read many self help books, listened to many talks, always setting goals , but it is like in the house she is the good one, and I am always having faults……. Please help

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Nusaiba,

      Sorry to hear about your recent problems within your household and with your cousin. However, I want to tell you that there is a reason for your negative feelings and resentments. I don’t share this to empower them but rather encourage you to look deeply into yourself to discover what is really troubling you. I’m hearing some of it in your post. It is a burden for people to tell you how they admire you. And now it’s pretty devastating to think you’ve lost that admiration. We give a lot of power to people around us, to what they think. We sometimes make it more important than what we think. Find the good inside of you. It is still there. Perhaps your growing from someone who is always nice (and pleasing others) to someone who can be more honest and authentic. People don’t always appreciate our growth. It sometimes threatens them and they try to get us to be who we were yesterday.

  54. Ana says:

    In my childhood I grew up in a family where Emotionally Immatureness existed, combined with negative self talk, anxiety, depression, and infidelity, something that I hated and I told myself “when I married, I’ll have my owned happy family”
    I have been married for 13 years now, and felt I was constantly working to have that perfect family that I always wanted. But this attitude took me to judge my husband all the time, and I started to do the same patterns I saw in my childhood, not seeing the world as it really is, but seeing my own world, fed with “negative self-talk” combined with emotionally immatureness, anxiety, and ended up with infidelity on my side about a year ago.
    I am blessed with a husband that loves me, he is with me right now, but he is facing Post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, mistrust, negative self talk, low self esteem, things that he never experienced before, and he is having a really hard time dealing with them. I have 2 wonderful kids that I don’t want to harm more and don’t want them to repeat this patterns when they grow up.
    We (my husband and I) attended to the “Education Week” in August 2014 in a day when we where both in bed depressed. We heard that day about it and decided to get up and go and see if we could find something to help us. We attend to your classes and were definitively helpful, I saw my husband with a little more hope. I decided to google your name to see if you would have a clinic where we could have therapy with you, and I discover 2 things, first, that I was so grateful to have people like you giving of your time to give this classes as a service, and second, that It’ll be so hard to reach to you since I discover you were a really busy and famous person…lol… But I would like to see if you can recommend a couple of therapists that would be able to help us in this journey, somebody who can give us marriage therapy and a personal therapy for my husband.
    Thank you for all your hard work and be a recipient of light and truth!

  55. T says:


    can you please explain the difference to me between “acting on you emotions” vs acting out on emotions” I can really dumb, so can you please give me specific concrete examples on both

    thanks in advance

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Tady. This is a very good question. Acting on my emotions means that I’m aware of what I feel and use my feelings as input to make decisions. For example, I notice I’m upset (angry) about a comment of my boss in a staff meeting. The fact that I’m upset is a valuable cue that something isn’t right in our relationship. I use this information to make a conscious and rational decision about what to do about this fact. I have lots of choices. I can tell myself that he/she didn’t really mean anything and let it go. I can decide I need to have a talk with him/her to get more information about the meaning of his comment. I can use it to explore my own insecurities or how committed I am to my job or how I can improve my relationship with my boss, and so on. My emotion is a very valuable source of understanding myself and relationships and deciding how to improve them. On the other hand, when I act out my emotions, I allow them to override my reason or gaining a deeper understanding into myself or relationship with my boss and do some form of yelling/attacking or withdrawing and shutting down. My feelings drive my behavior with no attempt on my part to learn and grow from my experience. My feelings are an important input into how I choose to act but not the only input. I also want to consider my vision, what is important to me, what I can learn, the consequences of various courses of action, etc. Does this make sense? Roger Allen

  56. Terrence says:

    Dear Dr. Allen,

    Thank you so much for publishing this amazing piece of writing. It’s brilliant in how much information it provides in such a concise work. I read this daily, and have been using the information to look within and better myself, and I’ve been feeling wonderful.

    Warm regards,


  57. Shaj says:

    hello dr
    Your article basically applies with the situations am dealing with right now…. I always try to be emotionally stable but often find that hard….Finding the causes and the solutions to being emotionally weak has bore no fruits…..Any advise would help

  58. Farha says:

    Dear Dr. Allen,

    I have come across your article after a eye-opening and heart wenching argument with my boyfriend. We have argued countless times, with the main issue being my moodiness and how I react passive aggressively when something doesn’t suit what I think.

    Until today, I never believed I was emotionally immature, and that I was reasonable in the way that I acted in certain situations. I’m 20 years old and my boyfriend is 23, nearly 24. He is very mature and can control his emotions really well. But, my emotional immaturity is a drain on his emotions and energy and as he is studying medicine, he doesn’t have the time to deal with it.
    We had an argument over a date we spent the other day where at some points I would be agitated by his response and react negatively (ie walk away or just be verbally not interested) but he kept trying to keep the mood up to keep me happy. Initially, I thought it was my fault but also a little bit his fault our argument came about. My expectation was that we could talk it out, agree is was petty and we could be happy and move on. However, he was not ready to be like this, saying if a situation happened similarly again, it would be the end of the relationship as he cannot deal with it and that I need to figure myself out if we were to progress in any way.
    After researching the topic and what it means, I’ve realised that I do have issues – I am emotionally immature. I’ve been thinking of reasons why, why I’m like this. And I’ve concluded it must be because of my past and current problems (I have an unhealthy and very bad relationship with my parents to the point I’ve left home against their will, I’ve been through a near-death trauma and my romantic relationships have always ended by the other party cheating on me). I have accepted that I need to change, not only for my relationship but for my future.

    I’m clear on what I want, I want to be in a long term relationship with this wonderful person, and I want to be a benefit and support rather than a drain and a drag. I want to be successful and focused on my well-being as much as I can.

    To achieve such a thing.. I’m really stuck. I have no idea how to start and I just need some guidance.
    I am a religious woman and I pray to God every day asking for guidance in my life. I really believe I need to make a change. I tried to download your E-book (I realised it has been a while since this article was posted), but the link did not work. I guess by writing this post, I am looking for guidance, tips and assurance this is possible.
    Thank you for taking time to read my message, and thank you for this article, I feel it’s allowed me to take one step closer to escaping this emotional immaturity.
    God bless,


    • Ri says:

      Hi Farha! How is your situation now? Any changes, any growth?! I have gone through a smilier experience and after working on myself, I am going through it yet again.
      Thank you!

  59. Awura Yaa Acheampong says:

    Dr. Allen,

    Wow! There is some many things i can say but the most prominent feeling i have now is sadness. I am a 38 year old woman and i never thought about me being emotionally immature until i read another artucle and then eventually stumbling across yours. I have been in struggle all my adult life with relationships especially with men and career as well. I never knew that this is what ive been experiencing. Im feeling sad because ive been like this for years and now me trying to fix it is going to be a serious challenge. Reason is trying to recognize when the immaturity happens. Your list between maturity and immaturity is speak volumes because every last immaturity point is me. So i guess im saying to you for my age how can i change this and feel good about it? How can i feel confident? Cause now i feel like a school child in a classroom that doesnt know what to do and so i ask this questions. I hope im not sounding to immature…haha i probably do!

  60. Naomi says:

    Hi Dr. Allen,

    I am 22 years old and works as a social worker. I’ve been struggling from being very immature. My work mates would always say that i act childish and overreacting. The tone of my voice, the way i response to them, my decision making. But I dont to it intentionally.TRULY. I always get upset of myself whenever i act as such 🙁 could you help me pls on what to do and suggest a book to read to overcome this .Ive been wanting to be emotionally mature.

    Thanks !

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Naomi. Yes, happy to respond. Good for you for being willing to admit the problem and seek solutions. I recommend any good book on the topic of mindfulness which helps you slow down and become more aware of your thoughts and feelings. One book I recommend is Radical Acceptance. I’d also recommend books by David Burns, particularly Feeling Good to learn to challenge your thoughts. Both are very good. I also teach some tools in my book, The Hero’s Choice and have a workbook to go with it to practice taking responsibility for your thoughts and behavior. I hope this helps. My best to you as you grow. It is a life-long process for all of us. Roger Allen

  61. Benjamin says:

    Your comparisons of emotionally immature vs mature people describe me and my immature girlfriend exactly. What is your advice for a mature person whose immature partner does not see herself as immature? If I showed her this article, she’d act out emotionally for sure. I love her but I do not love her immature behavior.

  62. ajay says:

    U r a great person sir.lot of respect for u.thanks for motivation and showing right path sir

  63. MAA says:

    Dr. Allen,
    Thanks for your article. I believe my dad is emotionally immature, and his self-centered behavior continues to be a terrible burden to my mom and I. Do you have any suggestion for how my mom and I can deal with this? Any suggested reading for us or for my dad?
    Thanks kindly.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi MAA,

      I want to recommend two books for you. One is entitled “The Art of Selfishness” and the other “Co-Dependent No More” by Melodie Beatty. Each is a little different approach but good for those in a relationship with someone who is emotionally immature.

  64. Rob says:

    OK, you got my attention. I am currently failing at most things emotional. I have read some of the posts here and one stood out, calieh . I am married to a woman that has pulled me out of the darkness yet I am finding myself not able to connect with her on a non physical level. She holds a masters in communication and is light years ahead of me in maturity. When first reading ( the passages from the book) my first response was” good god this a bunch of hippy bs “. After going through and letting it sink in that is not my view point. I want to be strong for my wife and son as well as for me. I don’t want to be the equivalent of a emotional atom bomb. What I have read has peaked my interest and I thank you as I have found , at least a point of beginning .

  65. Ronald Johnson says:

    There are a lot of positive reviews here. That interests me but the summary above is just a tad letdown. I’m not sure if this applies to me somehow….. Sadly, this late, I’ve discovered several things about myself that are off. I’ve known a very long time I have no self esteem. I beat myself up for failing myself and believe me the financiers haven’t forgotten my mistake either LOL. I do not realize rewards from myself or others for anything. I feel like I don’t feel anything but sorrow. I found out that I only feel pleasure from risky behaviors or alcohol but fortunately I’m not addicted to either. I think I stopped feeling love in my mid 20’s. Most of my impetus for figuring out why I’m broken is now over, though. I just wanted a best friend that could touch my heart. But now I’m old, and that seems pointless. I don’t remember the last time I felt joy. I work for a narcissist, heck he might even be a sociopath. I guess that, I look at your comparison chart up there. I notice how many behaviors are evident in people that are still toxic. For example my boss and his wife fill so many of your ’emotionally mature’ fields but nobody likes him. I feel for Hal, in the top article. One of the most depressing things in life is to accept the fact that people are full of BS games whether they are conscious of them or not. Then people expect you to deal with it! I’m trying hard to rationalize your notions as anything other than culling. Sorry for all the ‘I’s’. So, after all this I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by what seems is my ‘smallness’? Do you have a childrens book I could start with? Hehe.

  66. clodalta says:


    I’m nearly 50 continually feel less than and am uncomfortable and afraid people think badly of me. People think I’m abrasive and rude, I’m just not comfortable and don’t know how to be in adult world – any tips?

  67. Ri says:

    Hi Dr,

    I have been the perfect child for my parents when I was younger. I thought I had everything perfect in life with my college degrees. And I met this really really great guy who is so so mature. We fought a lot in the past one year and now finally I have realised that I am so angry, hurtful and emotionally immature. I am so insecure and I always pin the blame on him. And my words are so rude when angry. I make an issue out of the smallest of things since I am overly sensitive. He is still trying to teach me and change my negative outlook on life all the time. I cannot disappoint him any further! It hurts so much and I do want to be the person for him and change myself for us. But it is so difficult to break out of this habit. Everytime I try, it lasts for a day only. Please let me know how to overcome this weakness. Please I would really like to know how to become a mature person in life. Thank you so much!

  68. Dawn says:

    How do you recommend suggesting to a friend that this very accessible, helpful advice might be useful to him? Thank you for sharing the content in the first place, and for your interactive responses to comments/questions. By the way, I’m trying to get a copy of Art of Selfishness, but it is proving difficult/expensive. Will also try for your book as advised, but in the meantime, would you mind sending me the Stop Look Listen … email, please? Thank you, again!

  69. Emma says:

    What a great article. It speaks so much sense. I am 25 and beginning to realise that I am emotionally immature and have always been. I am currently experiencing frequent family arguments that I instigate because I am extremely sensitive and neurotic. I hold people to very high standards and am easily hurt when they inevitably do not meet them. I recognise that I have a problem that I need to address, both for my sake and for others’. My habits, however, are so entrenched that it’s going to be difficult to change (although not impossible by any means).

    Thank you for writing and sharing this article 🙂

  70. Scott says:

    Hi Dr. Allen I appreciate this article very much. I am 54yo mwm who experienced CSA at the age of 11. Only today do I realize my emotional immaturity stems from that time in my life. I knew I wasn’t responding appropriately (not negatively), but trying to be a people pleaser. I now realize I don’t really know who I am and of course that is unfair to my wife. I am in counseling. It seems I have social anxiety, fear, intimacy and trust issues. Are there some kind of exercises to bring me closer to emotional maturity? I know that is a lot to ask and thank you for any advice in advance.

  71. RobH.Australia says:

    I am absolutely thrilled to come across this post and am incredibly grateful, not only to the advice you have given initially to the people posting comments here but also to the public who have opened themselves up here. It reminds you that you are not the only one dealing with these issues in your head and we are not going mad, even though you can convince yourself easily enough to isolate yourself regardless of others saying the opposite. I am 50 and recently acted out a ‘hurt’ from a friend which could have resulted in being fired. That was my final light bulb moment. It hit me that before I really stuff things up any further, I need to address myself. Various things have happened through my life and I consider myself a survivor rather than a victim, however, maybe that is not how other people see it when I know I can talk and act like a hormonal teenager.I can relate to every person who has contacted you here and can also see from the other side how someone acting my way sees it. I have found, if it is someone else doing the ranting and raving, that’s when I seem to be calm, collected and think clearer. Why is that? I am a single mum of two and I really don’t want them to become me or get involved with someone who is emotionally immature and I can come up with a load of excuses as to why I am the way I am but I think I have finally run out of puff and BS (Thank goodness!) It’s tiring. So, I am going to take your words of wisdom, put them on the fridge, apologise to my family and friends who have put up with me for so long, let them know that I am going to make a concerted effort to make changes and source your book to further improve myself…… A heartfelt thank you to you and your contributors.

  72. Kurt H says:

    I really needed after what I just went through, I’m 18 and I’m not emotionally mature enough to handle some problems, this helps a lot, I’m going to try reading this almost everyday and take deep breaths when I feel like I can’t handle a situation. After reading this it actually made me open my eye even more than it already was after my problem today. This is so helpful I wish everyone could read it. I’m so glad I came across this it’s actually very good and very well needed for people my age.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Thank you, Kurt. I’m glad the post was helpful to you. You are still young so creating new habits should make a difference throughout your life. I wish you well in your journey. Roger

  73. Na says:

    Hi Dr Allen,
    I understand what you are saying for responsibility for your actions but it appears you are stating people who abuse others have no responsibility for their actions and their victims are responsible for being abused. Am I understanding this correct?

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Na. I am not saying that people who are abused are responsible for being abused. Sometimes, often times, abuse occurs early in life and/or from a person of greater power than ourselves and we lack the awareness or inner resourcefulness to prevent the abuse. We truly are victims in these moments. And I certainly believe that the perpetrators are responsible for their actions in these relationships. However, I also believe and have witnessed dozens of people who are/were abused take their personal power back from the perpetrator and even overcome the consequences of abuse. Doing so takes courage, awareness, self-compassion, and a willingness to take responsibility for their experience today. People often need loving guidance and support during this process. I also have to say that it is one thing to be abused in the past and another thing to hold onto that abuse and relive it day-after-day. The perpetrator cannot do that work for me, however responsible he or she was for committing the abuse in the first place. This is work I have to do for myself. Roger

  74. Jane says:

    Hi Dr Allen,

    Let’s just say it’s been a crazy couple of years. Since I was a child I have always struggled with showing my emotions. When my grandmother passed when I was 10 I stopped saying I love you to anyone. I know just recently got into a serious relationship and said I love you and it hard but I still cannot say it to anyone else. Just recently my dad cheated on my mom and left us and then ended up in jail and my mom started drinking and not coming home and we lost both of our houses. I finally fixed the relationship with my dad and currently living with him. When I moved in with my dad I met a guy and from the first day I met him I knew he was the one. I am 20 and he is 25 so I always knew he would have more maturity than me. But until I read this article I had no clue I am completely emotionally immature. Just recently I quit my job out of the blue because I was so depressed everyday and dreaded it. I was unemployed for 2 months and just recently started a new job which I do enjoy. But my relationship has been on the rocks. I love this man more than anything and I know he loves me but he’s getting very angry about how immature I am. I constantly jump on him and get defensive. I’m always scared he’s cheating on me or wants to leave me. And I’m always in a negative headspace. I have tried so many things to get out of it. Excercising, thinking positive, going outside, breathing, listening to my favorite music. But I alway have this heavy weight on me. I’ve always struggled with self harm and it has just recently gotten very bad and I feel so lost and confused and I just want to be happy. I feel so unstable in everything and nothing makes me happy anymore. I’m so scared I’m losing myself.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Jane. I’m sorry to hear about how you’re struggling right now. It sounds like the things you’re doing to put yourself in a good place are not enough. Don’t give up on them, however. They will make a difference. Keep using these positive strategies, including the process I outline in this article.

      Take some time, when you find yourself in a key moment, to go off by yourself and work through the steps of the process. This builds your own inner strength rather than depending on a particular response from others.

      However, sometimes we need support in this journey and i want to encourage you to seek someone out whom you can talk to, preferably a professional therapist or counselor. There are many professionals who have worked with people experiencing the kinds of feelings you’re describing. Someone should be able to help you understand your feelings and find greater stability.


  75. Anna says:

    By these standards I look a lot more mature now than I was 20 years ago.. but really life doesn’t happen to me and I have more choices and control because I built a life that allows for more flexibility. When I was 14, I was paying for my parents’ decisions. Life was happening to me.

  76. Mike says:

    Hi Dr.Allen,

    I am 20 years old, I know I am acting emotionally immature sometimes like at work, but it just feels so “right” and easy to hate someone that I do not like. I especially have problems with taking orders from people I don’t respect at work. Any strategies or articles targeting this?

    Gosh doing the right thing is so damn hard.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Mike. It can be difficult to take direction from people we don’t respect. However, I’d also say that learning to work with all sorts of people is an important part of getting along in work and life. I also want to encourage you to give less power to other people, whether you like them or not and keep your focus on the person you want to be. What is your vision for yourself, regardless of how other people act? Who do you want to be? How do you want to be? What are the values or qualities that you admire and would like to develop in yourself? How can dealing with difficult people help you do this? In addition, here is a link to an article you may find helpful in dealing with a boss you hate:


  77. JR says:

    This article contains much wisdom. Being raised by a mentally ill mother and disabled father, I was not taught emotional maturity. Now, I’m teaching it to myself as an adult.

  78. […] “Responsibility has to do with the choices you make about how to think, feel and act about reality.” — Roger K. Allen, PhD […]

  79. Chris says:

    It seems like the basis of sustaining emotional maturity is the recognition and acknowledgement of an emotion (primarily anger or frustration) and not reacting to them. But thinking through them. Applying your predictive engine (your brain) into getting the best outcome. And it rarely involves acting like a pouty child or a sore loser.

    • Hello Roger,
      Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read and reply! Invaluable!

      Secondly, I am in a partnership (business) with my actual partner. And wow, I knew that being with someone all day everyday was going to present its own challenges but again, wow. The business celebrated its one year anniversary days ago and has no cash flow problems. But our personal relationship has never been more strained. Opinions on nearly every matter are on opposite ends of the spectrum, and he has pretty much bulldozed his processes into existence, leaving me feeling agitated, unheard and quite frankly, pissed at his inability to see me as anything other than “a manger”. Where as he seems to think he is head honcho. I have taken a backseat to his ways out of respect for him as my partner. If someone wants to be pushy I will ride with them on that idea until it no longer becomes feasible or valid, I accept that certain situations are learning experiences for those around me,cool. But I can’t sit back and ride the rails anymore. I have a vision for the company with processes and plans that he will hear none of.

      What can I do to re-open lines of communication in such a sensitive environment.?!!?
      There are many roles/expectations in a relationship much less one where we also are together quite often!

      Forgot to mention, even though we are together so often, he is upset when I try to go out and talk to/be social with my friends for fear of “me badmouthing him” or presenting him in a negative way, which obviously I would to my friends because they are my outlet.

      Rock and a hard place is how I feel. Help?

      -A concerned professional

      • Roger Allen says:

        Hi Christopher,

        It sounds like a big challenge with your business partner. It is not easy to make a partnership succeed and even more difficult when one party is playing a dominant role and not open to influence. As a matter of interest, I’m in the process of creating a new program on conflict resolution, which I’ll be publishing soon.

        I’m sure you’ve been thinking through your options. Do you remain quiet and let him dominate the relationship? Do you try to engage him in constructive dialogue, and if so, how do you do so in a way that he’s likely to respond positively? Could you get him to agree upon some basic ground rules for your relationship to guide how the two of you communicate and make decisions? Do you draw a line in the sand and let him know what is important or even essential for you to continue as a partner? Do you negotiate a different role within the company? Do you walk away? Or under what terms would you walk away?

        I think one place for you to start is clarifying your own leverage. What are the resources, skills, knowledge and experience you bring to your partnership? Does your partner recognize these? They can form a basis for negotiating with him.

        Just some thoughts.

        Roger Allen

  80. James B says:

    Roger. Great Article. I am 53 with ADHD,ASD,PTSD and Bipolar Depression, and for my age am extremely emotionally stunted an immature. Grew up in a family of addicts, so I’m very green around the ears about emotional maturity (expression, appropriateness, reciprocation,and empathy to name others. Unfortunately this has cost me my marriage, and I would really like to get some info on the Stop/Look/Listen/Act. I’m hoping that it isn’t to late for me. Thank You

  81. Linda says:

    This is a well written, helpful and accurate article. I am 9.5 years married to an emotionally immature 56 year old man. We have a deep connection which has been strained over time. We have reached the point where I have insisted on therapy – not marriage counseling. We have done that and while it helped, it doesn’t address behaviors linked to emotional immaturity. He started seeing two therapists who specialize in CBT and committed to making change. I sent him your article. Everything I have read is if you are with such a person, don’t stay with them. I would like this to work, but I have my limits, thus my insistence on therapy. We have an agreement that when things go south, I give a signal and we go outside to discuss so conversations and behavior stays in check, as it is on display for the neighborhood. This has shortened these incidences from hours long, heated yelling arguments to no more than 30 minute discussions that result in a resolution. I try to remember to say how the behavior/response affects me and provide some possible alternative responses so he can learn to be more mindful and in control. I see progress and effort, but it does get very tiring and frankly, it makes me feel like I am in “parenting” mode, which I resent needing to do with my “partner”, but I do it out of the committment of marriage. The interesting thing is that while he displayed some emotional immaturity earlier in our relationship, it wasn’t until we got married that it really became a problem. I am encouraged that so many comments are from individuals who acknowledge their emotional immaturity. My husband still resists owning any of these behaviors and his automatic response is denial or justification – usually both. It would be so helpful to have a guide on how to deal with emotional immaturity. I have developed a pretty good arsenal of tools over time, such as when he throws a fit and goes silent where the embarassment of the situation would be in a public arena, such as a mall where we are stranded and/or having lunch with friends and he doesn’t show up, is unreachable by phone or text for hours (sometimes days) and I have to explain he is “busy”. Now I always have my car keys with me – ALWAYS – and I have a rule that if he throws a fit and goes silent, I will take whomever is with me and leave (either in our own vehicle, or if he has taken it, an UBER) and he will be on his own for a ride home or the rest of the trip. These events often used to happen on vacations/trips. This step has significantly reduced the drama, which ruined vacations and trips and is only one tool in a long list of tools, but as I am sure you know, there always could be more. THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK!

    • Roger Allen says:

      Thank you, Linda.

      I can appreciate that this is such a dilemma. The good news is that it seems you have a lot of awareness and good resources you’re using to cope with your partner’s behavior. I think it is very positive that you’re setting boundaries and following through to take care of your needs as well as those around you when he’s “acting out.” Being aware, not personalizing, and being emotionally strong and self-responsible are the best things you can do and I get this from your comment. People can change but the desire has to be big and that often comes from lots of pain when they realize that others are not going to be manipulated and continue to accommodate their immature behavior.

      The idea of a book or resource to help those in such relationships makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, not something I can do right now. But there are some good books. Co-Dependent No More by Melody Beatty (sp?) is one that comes to my mind. Another with a very different approach is Loving What Is by Byron Katie.

      My best to you in this journey.

      Roger Allen

  82. Rishikesh Pandey says:

    Thank you Roger. I read the book. It brought tears to my eyes as for the first time I got to know that all my problems are just my own creation and how I have alienated all the people who loved me. I am 28 year old. And I can see how from the time I was in school I started this bad attitude in life . Thank you so much , I’ll make the rest of my life as “serene” as I can. I cannnot explain what great change you brought in me . May God bless you.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Rishikesh. Thanks for your comment. I’m so happy to know that the book touched you and has helped you assume responsibility for your life. My best in your journey forward.

  83. Alexa says:

    I came across this wonderful advice today and it has helped me enormously. I have managed so many key point moments so badly (one was last night out of sheer frustration) – there’s no undoing this but I will be / want to be / need to be more conscious and in the moment when going forward. It’s interesting how one can we can set ourselves up for failure throughout our lives but reading this article has been a real lightbulb moment for me…thank you! Now I need to find your books 🙂

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Alexa. I’m happy you found me and are feeling so much hope from my article. Check out my books on my website ( I also have a number of online video programs on Udemy. You can also find them on my website or go directly to Udemy and enter my name. One you may be interested in, because it’s related to the content of the article, is Using CBT to Live a Life of Happiness and Success (or Claiming Your Power to Live a Happy and Abundant Life) on my webpage. My best to you.

  84. Lorraine G. says:

    Thank you for publishing this information online. I am 61 and working hard to deal with emotional immaturity. I have a good, supportive teacher who does not deserve my instant, defensive responses to her. I have caused her much heartache and pain. I resolve to be better, I have the tools but I continually self-sabotage, especially when I cannot understand how to respond appropriately. It’s so hard sometimes, especially when I’m trying not to spiral into self-pitying depression. Kinda good to know I’m not alone in this regard.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi Lorraine. You are welcome. And you are not alone. So many people are on this pathway of growing in emotional maturity. It is certainly a journey, one that takes great courage, by the way. Know that it can sometimes be helpful to have a coach or counselor or even good friend to help guide and support you. My best to you as you continue your growth.

  85. John says:

    Is it possible to mature emotionally after turning 40? I am a 43 year old man with a lot of background issues of anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, growing up as the child of alcoholics, and recently it’s been suggested I might have adhd. Intermittent therapy over the years has helped some, but not completely. And I recognize part of that is on me for aiming to fix it to make my wife happier rather than to fully commit to my own health. There has been a lot of conflict in my relationship. And I’m working on things now, but my wife spoke to a psychologist who told her that what she describes of her experience with me suggests emotional immaturity more than any of the conditions I mentioned and that at my age, emotional maturation is really not something that will happen because of neurological issues.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Hi John. I disagree with the psychologist who said that you can’t grow in emotional maturity because of your age. Motivation is a far bigger factor than age. We know, from the science of neuroplasticity, that the brain can change throughout our life-times. I believe that you can grow and change. However, you have to do so for yourself and not for your wife or any other person.

  86. Maddie Qing says:

    Hi Dr Allen, could i have the Stop-look-listen-choose as well? Thanks

  87. Richard Myles says:

    Hi, thanks for posting this clear perspective. I’m 50 years old and somehow find myself here in desperation. I’ve attempted to get to the root of issues, explored many paths, tried to take control of my life but still find myself at the bottom of this emotional ladder while others climb past me. I feel stunted in so many aspects of life and ashamed of my childishness.

    Claiming my power feels terrifying after all these years because it means I have to accept so much of my life has been a self-justifying lie and I’ve created this self-defeating reality. I can feel my rejection of this still coming from the scolded small boy inside me who wants to defy those who challenge me and avoid the exposure of potential failure. And in my self-pity I feel I just want to give-up and collapse under the weight of this task rather than confront the fear and the hard work to get beyond it.

    Your words are reminding me I am the only person who can change this if I am to create a meaningful life. I’m going to have to suck it up and let go of the years of seeking safety and responding with childish defiance and face the fear of exposure to the world.

    I just wanted to share this because others may be at the same point in life and the sense of futility and powerlessness can be overwhelming by this stage. If you’re in your teens or twenties, don’t wait. Face the fear now and get that self-discipline in place so you can be thriving by the time you reach my age. And if you’re in your 40s and 50s – or older – let’s front up and say “It’s time”. Good luck y’all.

    • Roger Allen says:

      Thank you for your comment, Richard. I hear all the pain you’ve experienced in your life and am truly sorry. However, your comment is beautifully written and powerful. In it, I hear and expansive awareness and responsibility for yourself that reflects emotional maturity. I hope what you’ve written will inspire others to face themselves and move forward. What matters is now, today, a new day. I truly hope that you can offer yourself some compassion for your past and feel love in your heart to move forward.

  88. #Cwk says:

    I needed this. really good read. just subscribed

  89. […] “Responsibility has to do with the choices you make about how to think, feel and act about reality.” — Roger K. Allen, PhD […]

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