We’re not born fully mature. And we must all go through various stages of growth toward our increasing maturity. Naming these stages helps us to locate where we are currently and to extend grace to ourselves when we’re not yet where we want to be.
For example, as kids, we were completely dependent on our parents for our wellbeing. And in our early years we tended to idealize them and believe they could do no wrong.
However, by the time we reached adolescence, we often embraced the opposite – believing our parents could do no right. Our teenage years were typically a time in which we were finding our voice, and this usually meant a fair amount of rebelling against our parents.
Mature adulthood was then marked by our ability to hold more grounded and integrated positions.
For instance, we might no longer place our parents on a pedestal, but we don’t have to drag them through the mud either. We can value the wisdom they have to offer while still standing on our own two feet and confident in our ability to direct the course of our own life.
These stages toward adulthood are similar to what plays out for us emotionally and relationally as well.
Early in our relationships we might be desperate to win the approval of the other and to receive their validation. We do everything we can to prove our worth and we’re quickly frustrated whenever the other seems indifferent.
In time, we might then feel like we’ve lost ourselves in the relationship and we become adamant about speaking up for ourselves and doing more of our own thing again. This might come in the form of emotional distance or outright rejecting any of their suggestions and opinions.
Finally, we reach the point where we can value their influence while respecting our own voice as well. Their opinions are no longer threatening to us because we’re confident we can stand our own ground.
To be sure, as we mature, there’s a time to be lost in the other, a time to do our own thing, and a time to finally value the other while standing on our own two feet as well.
And it’s okay to go through the stages of dependence and rebellion before reaching the stage of mature integration.
In the end, accept your current stage of maturity with grace while staying committed to your path of growth.