What causes emotional immaturity?
Emotionally immature people are those that haven’t moved onto adult ways of thinking and behaving. They seem to be trapped in a childish mentality but don’t (and probably never will) realize it. It can be a 50, 80, 28 or 35 year old - male or female. It is not a problem confined to one specific age group or gender.
I call it ‘celebrity-itis’ which is something I first heard about when Britney had her much publicized dramas. After learning about it, a lot of things finally made sense to me. Celebrity-itis is when a person’s emotional development slows down drastically (or stops) at whatever age the person found fame. Britney found fame at age 15 and some may argue that she shows a similar emotional age. Apparently, the reason for this developmental slowdown is that at the moment celebrities get their ‘break’ life changes dramatically – they have people running around after them, they get free stuff, they have cameras following them, they get loads of fan mail and asked for autographs everywhere they go. They stop living a normal life and become treated like ‘a star’. Nothing is too much trouble and ‘whatever you need you shall have’. It could be an explanation for why Hollywood marriages rarely last - they enter it without being mature enough to do so.
‘Celebrity-itis’ does happen to ‘regular’ people too, but instead of a ‘big break’ being the life changing event it might be something like losing a parent at a young age. Often such a huge life changing event can lock the person in a developmental ‘pause’. Somewhere when processing their grief they get jammed at that emotional age. I’ve personally seen four very clear examples of this happening:
*35 year old male who hadn’t processed his childhood issues. The more I learnt of him, the more I saw how childish his decision making and actions were. His stunted emotional growth cost him dearly in his life, caused mild mental illness and also negatively impacted his children (which he is oblivious too).
*30 year old male that has parental approval issues. He spends his life trying to impress his (un-impressible) father. His life revolves around that (but he doesn’t consciously see that). He also constantly needs to be seen as a ‘big hero’ – telling very obviously exaggerated stories in which he plays some kind of superman. People don’t like being friends with him because they feel he is fake. He is so busy proving how much better than you he is, that he has no time for authentic, real friendship.
*25 year old female that suffered a traumatic event in her teens. She is very petty, negative and unreliable. After spending time with her people report feeling very glum and pleased to get away. She is preoccupied about what others can give her (gifts and shopping) rather than looking after her own needs as an adult should. She is very judgmental and spends her waking hours saying and thinking awful things about others.
*40 something woman who also suffered a traumatic event in her teens. Her young children witness many immature behaviours, attitudes and decisions that cause them (even at age seven) to question her thought processes and decisions. They seem to have realised that there is something ‘not quite right’ about her, which is sad for them to learn so young. Her chosen peer group isn’t very high on the emotional maturity scale either, so she will be stuck at this level until she makes some life changes.
Emotional immaturity doesn’t affect every celebrity or person who has been through a life changing event, but it does make a lot of sense. The teenage years are a huge time of preparing for adulthood (mentally and emotionally) and if a spanner gets thrown in the works with a big event or receiving huge fame life can become so different, that the development doesn’t continue on a ‘normal’ path.
Signs of emotional immaturity
*You don’t take responsibility for your mistakes and always find someone else to blame.
*You are insecure, often defensive and have low self esteem which you band aid by talking yourself up all the time.
*You are unreliable – often late, not doing what you say you will and letting people down (with hundreds of excuses ready of course).
*When something great happens to someone you know instead of being thrilled for them, you often feel jealous and wish bad things upon them instead.
*You are stuck in childhood accrued patterns of thinking and behaving.
I’d love to hear any stories or examples you have experienced of emotional immaturity in yourself or others and how you overcame and dealt with it. Also what points would you add to the list of signs of emotional immaturity above?