It is often said that one’s emotional age is not always the same as their chronological age. And this can be known through how one feels and seen through certain behaviours and reactions that people have.
One may even try to deny that they haven’t grown up and justly their behaviour in some way. Here, one could say that they don’t want to grow up or that life is all about having fun for example.
On the other side of this can be people who are very much aware of how old they feel. These people don’t want to justify or rationalise how they are; they just want to grow up.
There can also be people who are not aware of being emotionally stuck and simply because it is the only thing they know. It is normal and feels familiar to them. And this can lead to all kinds of pain and suffering.
In the first example, it’s as if they have no awareness of their emotional age and therefore see life as having two options. Either they stay where they are or they grow up and experience life as being all about responsibility, hard work or obligations for instance.
For the second person, they can see that the option above is not the only one available. And while they want to grow up, they know that life can not only include responsibilities and hard work, but also moments of adult play and fulfilment.
The third person is unlikely to enjoy the experience that they are having. But based on their perception of life and themselves, it may appear as the only way life can be experienced.
Areas Of Life
However, regardless of what ones position is of their emotional age, this is something that can affect every area of one’s life. And some of the important ones are: self image, career, relationships, finances and mental and emotional health.
There are a number of ways that one can come to the conclusion that they are emotionally stuck. One may come to this conclusion through: reading, being around someone who is emotionally developed or through a general awareness that one has not grown up.
But, these insights are often hard to come by and this can be the result of emotional undevelopment being so pervasive in today’s world.
It is often through comparison that people come to see if: how they feel or what they are doing is right or wrong or good or bad. And then there are people who will not only look to others, but who will also look within themselves to decide if they are on the right track or are doing the right thing or not.
So, if one were to look to other people for feedback on whether they are emotional undeveloped for example, in most cases they are unlikely to have a functional model to compare themselves with. That is unless they happen to have a certain role model, friend or family member who is emotionally developed.
There are many influences here and some of the primary ones are: family, friends, teachers, the media and popular culture. It is through these sources that one’s emotional development can be set and whether or not one feels they are undeveloped or not.
And based on what these sources are often like, unless one generally questions life or has the drive to grow, it will be normal for one to stay in a regressed state. As the media and popular culture generally don’t encourage emotional development. In most cases, what they promote or idealise, is the result of emotional undevelopment.
It is through these role models and what the media focuses on, that one can come to the conclusion that how they feel is normal or how life is.
The Main Influence
However, the primary influence in whether one is emotionally developed or undeveloped is the childhood years. What happened during these years will play a massive role in ones emotionally health.
Now, for some people, their emotional development can be slightly off and for others, there can be the feeling of being extremely undeveloped. This can depend on the quality of nurturing that one received and whether one experienced any kind of trauma.
Empathic And Unempathic Care
And whether one had a caregiver that was primary emphatic or unempathic will often be the defining factor. An empathic caregiver is one who is generally emotional available and in tune with the Childs needs. Whereas the unempathic caregiver is one who is generally emotionally unavailable and out of tune with the Childs needs.
From the moment one is born, they will have certain mental and emotional needs. And these will have to be met at the right time, or else it will create problems later in life. If they are met, it will allow one to go onto the next stage of their development.
But if they are not, met it can disable one from going onto the next stage of their development. There physical body may change, but their emotional body can stay the same.
Life Goes On
And while one can feel emotionally stuck at these times when their needs were not met, life carries on going and doesn’t stop just because one has emotionally stopped growing. This will inevitably lead to problems and to the creation of pain and suffering.
Even though life has continued, at an emotional level, one can feel as though they have never left those moments of being a child. And this means that how they felt at those times, when their needs were not met, can be how they will feel as an adult.
Through regressing to this early time or just by merging with their emotions, one can feel: rejected, abandoned, lost, empty, powerless, needy, desperate, hopeless, helpless, worthless, vulnerable, overly sensitive and many others.
And this can then influence how one views other people and themselves, the kind of people that one is attracted to and attracts and how one sees life itself.
Frozen In Time
The emotional pain that was experience as a child has remained in the body; it has been frozen or trapped there. And this means that in most cases, these emotional needs will not be able to be met as an adult.
As they relate to childhood needs and wants, it will mean that they will just have to be released and let go. And this is something that can take place through the assistance of a therapist or a healer. By feeling the feelings, they will begin to disappear and allow one to feel emotionally like an adult.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.