When you are younger, your reactions towards adverse experiences tend to go along the thinking strands of ‘why me’ and ‘it’s not fair’. Chances are if you are a teenager you still enjoy throwing the odd temper tantrum whenever your mum sets those pesky curfews. I get it – that was me an undisclosed amount of years ago.
It seems to me like maturity is a form of acceptance. When you experience something negative, rather than stamping your foot, screaming how cruel the world is and cutting yourself off – you’re more likely to reason with the reality. You try to find explanations (good ones) as to why these things happen, even if you’re clearly clutching at straws. Why? Because the pointless anger and powerlessness do nothing for you. It further frustrates you, makes you resent the situation even more and results in the present situation being even harder to deal with. Casting yourself as a victim makes reality an even harder foe to fight.
Cognitive Dissonance can apply to the kind discomfort you experience when you cannot find a good reason and the understanding needed to feel at peace when something bad is happening. The discomfort of which is too much to bear so you reason – even to a point where you’re clearly trying too hard. I mean what good is there really of having a loved one diagnosed with cancer? But we find them don’t we? ‘Now you know who really loves you, now you can live life to the fullest, now you know what’s important, this can make you stronger’ etc. I have heard all of these before. In fact, I have said and fully believed these things and will continue to do so because the alternative is to let yourself fall into a dark pit and pitch a tent right there.
The point is this – you realise what emotions and forms of thinking are unhelpful to your wellbeing and the situation. You know that seeing your loved one in hospital after being diagnosed with the worst, screaming ‘oh my god you’re going to die’ and crying is not going to help, even though it may accurately reflect the way you’re feeling. It is logic born from emotion. It’s the understanding that we are irrational and somewhat bipolar so we need to put stops in place to make sure it doesn’t tilt too far to the extremes, to a point where you lose yourself by forcing the positives.
Using positive feelings to neutralise or at the very least resist the bad feelings from taking over. In some ways you know what you’re doing. You are creating reasons, whether from scratch or recycled ones, so you can catch some sleep at night. If some prick bumps into you and doesn’t stop for a second to apologise, you think ‘karma will bite you bitch’ because you don’t want to think that this asshole doesn’t face consequences from his attitude. Heck, one of the reasons why people enjoy the idea of hell and heaven so much is exactly this– it is the beautiful marriage of living with the consequences of decisions you made because the individual can’t be the enforcer of all justice.
Lately, I’ve found acceptance from a whole lot of failures I experienced in my past. Most likely it’s because things are going the way I want them to now, and I can’t help but think that those years of stagnancy were functional. Were actively moulding me to appreciate where I am right now – stable, and for the first time in perhaps five years, I see a bigger and better future. It colours your past to an incredible degree. So yes, coming to terms with the decisions you made in the past as well as the mistakes is a form of maturity as opposed to harbouring anger towards the immature past you.
You reason with your past and with reality than begrudge it.
You stumble into contentment.