By Judi Light Hopson, Emma H. Hopson and Ted Hagen Tribune News Service.
Do you know people who manage to stay calm in a crisis and solve tough problems? All of us tend to lean on these types of people, because they don't freak out under pressure.
However, to become mature and stable, any of us will have to work at it. Most of us aren't typically born with great problem-solving instincts.
Any teenager or young adult takes on a mature demeanor if he or she develops problem-solving abilities. People who fail to do this can act immaturely all of their lives.
These strategies help anyone develop maturity:
Learn to look at every option. When a problem looms over you, write down every possible solution. Then, choose the best option to fix your issue.
Visualize success. Seeing a good outcome helps you work in a more focused way to reach your goals.
Take on leadership roles. Coach a ball team, join a civic group or volunteer.
Find mature people to help you. If you need help in any area of life, try to talk with others who can offer you some good advice.
"My stepson Lee is 50, and he still won't take responsibility for his family," says a man we'll call Todd. Todd says his stepson inherited substantial money from his grandparents at age 21.
"Lee was on a free, wild ride from that moment on," says Todd. "Lee thought money could fix anything, so he never had to think or plan. His money is now gone, and he cannot fix problems."
All of us can actually improve our ability to deal with issues by staying positive. We need to view every challenging situation as an opportunity to think, plan and sharpen our skills.
For example, a woman we know stepped in when her neighbor's house burned. We'll call this woman Francine. Francine booked a hotel for the family in crisis right away. She anonymously paid the hotel bill for a week, plus she collected donated funds to give the family.
"Everybody imagines somebody else will take care of a crisis," says Francine, an ER nurse who also teaches at a community college. "A mature adult dives in to gain some control. My mother was a great role model for me. The tougher things got, the calmer and stronger she got. It was amazing watching her over the years."
Immature people, on the other hand, end up shaking everybody's confidence. They groan and cry until a shaky situation looks more and more hopeless.
"My military years taught me about maturity," says an Air Force pilot we'll call Jim. "I learned that if I acted confident, I'd feel confident. Some of my fellow pilots made me nervous. They'd say a bunch of negative things before they finished breakfast every morning. I decided to become the opposite and say some positive things over and over to myself. As a pilot, you want to feel confident and in control."
Mature individuals tend to use their logic more than their emotions. While emotions are important, and we don't need to ignore them, we can all make better decisions by staying in a calm state of mind.
"I try to step back from problems and pretend I'm figuring them out for someone else," says Jim. "It's funny how we all can come up with advice for other people. That's because we've taken a step back and we're not so emotionally involved." ___ (Judi Light Hopson is the Executive Director of the stress management website USA Wellness Cafe, Emma Hopson is an author and a nurse educator. Ted Hagen is a family psychologist.)