You are in the driver's seat when you practice emotional adulthood.
The idea of Emotional Adulthood is a core tenant in my coaching practice. Because from the place of emotional adulthood we take back so much of our own power in our lives. We become more focused on what matters, rather than being distracted with things we can’t change, and we begin to create in our lives in ways that can just blow your mind.
Don't stress the stuff you can't change. It's a waste of your energy and emotional wherewithal.
The best definition I’ve seen of Emotional Adulthood comes from Brooke Castillo.
When we are in emotional adulthood we do 4 things:
1. Take responsibility for our pain and also for our joy.
2. Don’t expect other people to “make” us happy.
3. Don’t expect others to “make” us feel secure.
4. Appreciate that we are the only ones who can hurt our feelings and that we do so with our own thoughts.
Taking responsibility for our pain and our joy.
This is a biggie. Most of us do not grow up being taught how to think this way. We’re much more used to “I’m mad because of what you said” or “I’m hurt because you did something.”
It’s a lot to get our minds around the fact that, no matter what someone else does or doesn’t do, we are always fully responsible for our feelings.
No one makes us feel a certain way. Our thoughts about something someone said or did are what create our feelings, not what they said or did.
Don’t expect others to “make” us happy.
Believe it or not, it is not other people’s job to make us happy. That’s our job. And when we make it someone else’s job (husband, wife, mom, dad, boss) we give away our power. We never control the actions of others. Really. We want to believe we do, but we don’t.
It's your job to be happy, not someone else's.
So if we’re basing our happiness on the behavior of others, do you see how we are not in charge of our own happiness? How we’re letting others and their behavior decide what kind of day we’re going to have. Why would we do that? When happiness or a better feeling is really just a thought away.
We are responsible for our own happiness. It’s too much to put on another and it’s not realistic. You go about creating your own happiness and let those you love do the same.
Not expecting others to “make” us feel secure.
Other people don’t “make” us secure. A lot of my clients think having a romantic relationship will make them feel better, on purpose, secure, and on track. But, really, we all can think of a time we were in a relationship that did not create these feelings.
We create the feeling of security in our lives through our thinking and our actions.
This doesn’t mean staying in a situation where you don’t feel secure, but it is important to recognize that when we own our own security, we take actions in our lives congruent with what helps us create security. We are not waiting for someone else to take action.
Appreciate that we are the only ones who can hurt our feelings and that we do so with our own thoughts.
Other people opinions don’t hurt our feelings. What we think about what they’re saying causes us to feel hurt, not what they said.
Let’s say you have brown hair. If someone walked up to you and told you it was blue, you’d dismiss it immediately. You know you have brown hair. Their opinion doesn’t make sense or matter. This principle applies to anyone’s opinions/statements. You always get to decide how you want to respond to what has been said or done.
Respond vs. Reacting
When we are in emotional adulthood, we are able to respond in our life rather than react. You likely know those moments when someone says something and you lash out or react without really thinking. Being in emotional adulthood is like taking a deep breath after something is said, or done and choosing who we want to be in the moment.
We are always choosing who we want to be.
But often we think we have no other choice but to react with anger or defensiveness.
Anytime we think someone else is causing us to feel insecure, hurt, happy or playful we are in emotional childhood. It’s not the emotion that defines emotional childhood, it’s the belief that someone else caused us to feel or act this way.
Be kind to your emotional adult and your emotional child.
We need both on our journey so we have a contrast to work from as we learn how powerful we really are in our life. The amazing ability we really do have to create in our own life.
Feel free to email me with any questions. Emotional adulthood is a concept that we don't talk about a lot because it seems easier to blame things outside of ourselves for our feelings and behaviors. But cultivating the practice of emotional adulthood can change your life. When you get to be responsible for every emotion and every behavior you have, that is true freedom. Think about it.