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What Is Rational Maturity, and Why Do We Need It?

By Alainnah Robertson October 15, 2022 Mindset

Rational maturity begins when we accept responsibility for our lives and our thinking processes. Developing our rational maturity is a question of facing reality honestly. To do this, we have to make the effort to throw off the conventional wisdom and ideologies of the community around us.

We have to do the hard work of deciding what we think for ourselves. We have to become free thinkers, choosing what to believe and recognising that our belief system is a rational choice from many options – and our choice alone.

The Free Thinker

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was a leading philosopher of the Enlightenment. He was highly unpopular with the Catholic Church because his clarion call was that people should think for themselves, not blindly believe ideologies. The leaders of the Church took this personally.

Back then, their power and fortune lay in individuals’ and societies’ being forced to think alike and follow the ideology and mythology of the Church. They deliberately forbade their adherents to think for themselves.

The Church praised faith and declared it superior to reason, whereas free thinking was one of the foundation stones of the Enlightenment. Kant suggested that the majority of people are too lazy or cowardly to make the effort to develop their thinking.

It’s so much easier and more comfortable to accept the conventional thinking of society. This antagonism between these two ways of thinking has always been there in societies and is still there today. Rational maturity lies in choosing the way of the free thinker.

What Is Rational Maturity?

Rational maturity is not to be confused with genetically determined natural intelligence. Our community develops it through the parenting we receive, the environment, and schooling. We can develop it further by choosing to educate ourselves. This process is one that can, and should, be lifelong.

Neither is rational maturity the same as rational thinking. With rational thinking, we know what we want, we use logic to set goals, and we work towards achievement. This highly useful skill is necessary for a successful life, and it’s part of rational maturity, but it’s not the whole story.

Rational maturity follows from the first step of deciding to manage our own lives. We deal with our problems. We don’t expect anyone else to deal with them for us. We use our natural intelligence and our rational thinking, but we do so at our own command, not at that of anyone else. This doesn’t mean that we cannot be team players within contexts such as our family, our workplace, or community activities; it means that we choose to join the team and work in it to the best of our ability.

Rational maturity encompasses all these aspects. It all begins with personal choice. Our locus of control moves from the outside – other people and our environment, for instance – to inside ourselves.

Rational Maturity Is an Attitude Toward Life

Rational maturity is an attitude toward life. You could also think of it as wisdom. We accept life as it is and make the best of it, and we learn from experience. This means that instead of blaming circumstances and complaining, we simply accept them as a challenge that we have to deal with.

Instead of becoming a victim in life, we see anything adverse that happens to us as an occasion for learning. We chalk it up to experience. We accept that whatever happens is a lesson that helps us to become more mature.

Then we analyse what happened. We know what that “gut feeling” from our subconscious tells us. Instead of blaming other people, we consider our own behaviour. We know we should be honest about our own involvement in any incident. We recognise that there are always at least two sides to every story, and it is better to stand outside and above, rather than mindlessly take one side or another. We learn to see the big picture.

Why Develop Our Rational Maturity?

Why would we want to develop our rational maturity? The simple answer is that, whatever happens, a life guided by choices that are your own and that you take responsibility for will always be richer and more satisfying than a life of surrendered control.

A good book to read on this subject is Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, (2021), by Steven Pinker. His view on the modern world is extremely interesting and enlightening.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you taken control of your life? Do you plan your life? Do you live life decisively? Have you developed rational maturity?

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16 Comments
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Berta

Not really,I have been a victim of the set standards by the community
Entering my 60th birthday soon,iam glad to know iam totally incharge of my life……I promise to mature
The lesson has come in handy.
Thanks.

Karen

Great article Alainnah! I think an excellent description of emotional maturity. Will share this with my 29 year old son too. 👍

Judy

Sometimes not two sides to every story, when the other side lies is verbally and emotionally abusive, never wrong and won’t take responsibility for all the people they are hurting by not getting help with their mental health.
Complains about everyone around them but can’t see their own behaviour.
Maybe it’s someone who’s not self aware

Sandra

This is not what I expected to read when I opened this page. Your words are “enlightening”, thoughtful and reassuring. I say reassuring because when I think for myself, I find that I am occasionally “outside” of my family and community. I therefore have had to find various ways of supporting myself. One of the best ways I have found to support myself have been mindfulness retreats. I don’t go to be taught dogma or ideologies. I go to rest my mind and find effective ways of getting in touch with myself and my inner voice.

I thank you for presenting this information today.

The Author

Alainnah has lived on three continents, and always had a strong desire for community. She has founded various groups, including one on mindfulness and self-development. Alainnah has compiled her group study sessions in a book, Mindfulness Together. The ebook is available now on her website: alainnahrobertson.com. Printed version soon.

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