One’s emotions are the intertwining of one’s whole personality. According to Father Kentenich, founder of the Schoenstatt order, the heart is the harmony between the sensitive appetite -- feelings, passions, instincts -- and the spiritual appetite, or will. It sets one’s balance between their aggressive and passive nature. Emotions can easily lead one astray from God’s will (Proverbs 14: 17; 29). A Christian must be diligent on refocusing their emotions to love and serve others, and to generously surrender to God’s plan. (1 Corinthians 9:25; Galatians :,23; 2 Timothy 1:7; 2 Peter 1: 5-8)
For a long time, our emotional life did not receive the place which belonged to it. It was believed that what was decisive was only the will and the intellect. It is true that these, according to the objective order, are superior and are called to enlighten and definitely rule our actions, but it is a great error to believe that they can do it without the integration of the emotional life. The fruits of that error have been and are the rationalist person and the self-willed person who deny or sacrifice the emotions.
Without the harmony between emotions and will, a person can do very little. The intellect is unable to “objectively” know the truth without acknowledgement of the emotions. The human conduct is largely defined and determined by emotions. Now, what does emotional immaturity consist of?
Father Kentenich mentions hysteria and the lack of firm commitment as the general roots for emotional immaturity. Let us clarify the two:
It is a very serious and delicate level of immaturity. The hysterical person gravitates around and is possessed by the “I.” The hysterical person is so submerged in the search for self that he loses rationality. The person cannot be understood, is not crazy per se, but is a rare person, a neurotic.
Typically a hysterical person seeks attention at all times. He always wants to be at the center of everyone’s attention. In order to obtain attention the hysterical person often invents “illnesses,” or is obsessed with cleaning, studying, punctuality, physical appearance, etc. This is the type of person who is unhealthily seeking perfectionism. Perfection is often the enemy of what is good.
2) Lack of Firm Commitment
In this level of emotional immaturity, the person is unable to love and to commit himself to others in a healthy way. So then, we have two extremes: Unstable love, and possessive love:
2.1 Unstable Love. A person who does not have deep attachments is like a butterfly in his relationships: Incapable of taking a stance, incapable of relating to others in a deeper emotional level. Like hummingbirds they are incapable of being stable, or even faithful for that matter. This person tries a little bit of everything and allows himself to be guided by sensations; therefore, it is unstable in his emotions.
Fidelity is unachievable for a person on this level of emotional immaturity. The word “committing” is missing on this person’s dictionary. There are people who change mates like changing clothes. They throw away the used one and buy a new one. Only to find out later that “again” they feel empty. The reason is because they simply don’t know what love is. True love – a strange concept to someone in this level of immaturity -- is everlasting and strong. Be it between a man and a woman, or between the soul and its God. True love is strong like death and until death. Otherwise, it is not love, it was just feelings. Love is act of the will. True love is commitment.
2.2 Possessive Love. The other extreme. It is like a climbing vine which does not let others grow. The person on this level of emotional immaturity has an egotistical attachment to the people they relate with. Instead of an attachment for freedom, which is the very essence of love, their so-called love suffocates others. It can be a mother, a father, a spouse, or a friend. These possessive people only want to receive. They have a terrible hunger for personal indulgence. Children of possessive parents usually suffer with that problem throughout their entire lives.
In summary, emotional immaturity is placing the egotistical “I” on the first level and “you” on the second level. That all may adore “me” and that I may dominate them!
Questions for Reflection
1. Where is my emotional immaturity?
2. Am I a possessive person?
3. Would I be able to name one of my “hysterias?”
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Translation: Carlos Cantú Schoenstatt Family Federation
Edited by: Catholic.net
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