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10 Signs You’re Spiritually Mature

10 Signs You’re Spiritually Mature

We all mature physically whether we want to or not. On the other hand, spiritual maturity is not guaranteed. While you’re most likely to encounter the term “spiritual maturity” within the Christian context, the principles of spiritual maturity can be found in all religious and wisdom traditions. Spiritual maturity may be defined as:

The gradual process of developing healthy and life-giving ways of relating one to oneself, to others, and to the environment.

Most of us desire to develop the right ways of relating to ourselves and to others so that all may experience connection, peace, and lasting joy. Spiritual maturity doesn’t just happen. It requires intention, time, and effort in order to realize its benefits.

Not sure what it takes to be spiritually mature? Here are some signs that you are on the right path.

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1. Your life is guided by a core set of principles and values

Too often we go through life without examining the beliefs, values, and assumptions that guide our actions. The spiritually immature live their lives without being aware of the underlying spiritual forces influencing them. The spiritually mature consciously and carefully chooses to develop life habits consistent with values such as: love, compassion, empathy, selfless giving, dignified living, etc. They avoid all things that promote negative values. Through self-awareness, they seek to live out these values in all areas of life.

2. You are slow to hold on to grudges and quick to forgive

Nelson Mandela once said that resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping for the other person to die. The spiritually mature take this seriously since they are not interesting in taking the life of either themselves or others (literally and metaphorically). They learn to safely release the poison of resentment in order to forgive those who hurt them. They recover more quickly and move on with life in order to free themselves and others from the chains of unforgiveness.

3. You care deeply for the poor, the marginalized, and the downtrodden

All the great spiritual traditions promote caring for the needs of the less fortunate. As we live our hectic lives, it is very easy to tune out the voices of the weak. The spiritually mature person is constantly aware of the needs of the poor and is inspired to take action on their behalf. They understand that for a society to be healthy, it must care for the weakest among them.

4. You maintain your childlike sense of wonder

Too many of us stop being amazed by life as we grow into responsible adults. The spiritually mature see wonder and beauty in everything they do and experience. Familiarity is not a friend of the spiritually mature. They see new things where others see the boring routines. Every moment is treated as a gift, one that they are careful not to squander through negativity or ungratefulness.

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5. You are wary of the dangers of excess but you have an abundance mindset

These two things may seem in conflict with each other but on closer inspection, you will see that they are not. Among the spiritual traditions we see a healthy balance with the environment. The spiritual masters of every age have warned about the dangers of overindulging in material and spiritual pleasures. They take what they need without hoarding. They also give joyfully from an abundance mindset. They do not give from their excess but from their hearts, trusting that there will always be enough.

6. You defer pleasure

Everyday we receive the subtle and not so subtle messages that instant gratification is an inalienable right, that it will lead to happiness, and that it will help you forget about your problems.

Spiritually mature people know that anything worth doing requires that you do something you would rather not do now in order to get a result you want later. This this the essence of delayed gratification. Studies demonstrate a correlation between between delayed gratification and success in multiple areas of life.

The spiritually mature also have an added layer to this principle. They are able to discern that sometimes we simply don’t get what we want either because the timing is not right or because what we desire may not be good for us in the long run. They know that not all pleasurable things need to be pursued, even the seemingly harmless ones.

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7. You are joyful

All too often, being stressed out, reserved, and even unhappy are seen as status symbols. The hidden message is this: “If you’re busy and stressed out, you must be important. If you have no problems, you must either have no responsibilities or you’re lazy.”

There is another layer to our collective suspiciousness of joy. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, calls it foreboding joy, “or the paradoxical dread that clamps down on momentary joyfulness.”  It’s commonly referred to by the phrase “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

We’re afraid of celebrating joy in our lives either because we’re afraid it will be taken away or because we feel unworthy of our joy. Foreboding joy, according to Brown, is our way of minimizing our vulnerability to disappointment. How can someone be disappointed when they are in a state of “perpetual disappointment.”

The spiritually mature know that in order to combat foreboding joy, gratitude must also be present (this was demonstrated in Brown’s studies). Consistent joyfulness flow, not from naivety or a lack of problems, but from practicing gratitude. The spiritually mature may not always be happy, but they are ever joyful.

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8. You practice personal responsibility

If you’re spiritually mature, you’re more likely to engage in self-reflection as a regular practice. This allows you to examine your actions in light of your values and often hidden motivations. You’ll also be less likely to blame other people or circumstances when things go wrong.

9. You are dependable

A spiritually mature person knows that their word means everything. They are seldom quick to take on new commitments, but take time to discern whether it is consistent with their values and if there is time and energy to devote to something new.

10. You are at peace with what cannot be changed

The spiritually immature worry themselves to death over things they cannot change. The spiritually mature learn to let go of what cannot be controlled in order to focus on what can be influenced.

 

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There is one more truth about the spiritually mature: They never arrive. They know that one must work everyday to live up to their highest ideals. But they also know that the joy is in the journey.

Featured photo credit: Sunlight Forest via pixabay.com

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Cylon George

A spiritual chaplain and blogger who writes about practical spiritual tips for busy people.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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