15 ways a person thinks differently as they become a mature adult

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You’ve likely noticed that you don’t think or feel the same way now that you did as a child.

As we age, our perspectives broaden based on our experiences, and ideas we may have held previously don’t fit anymore.

Here are 15 significant ways a person’s mindset shifts as they grow up and mature:

1. They think critically about ideas and information.

When we’re young, we generally accept things that we’re told at face value, deferring to our elders’ assumed expertise and judgment.

It’s only as we mature that we realize that even esteemed elders may pass on inaccurate or seriously biased information.

As such, a person who’s well on their journey to maturity puts deductive reasoning and critical thinking into practice regularly, choosing to research all they can to determine their own thoughts and opinions on a subject.

Essentially, they hold to the concept of, “Trust, but verify”.

2. They delay gratification and think about the future.

If a child is asked whether they want one cookie now, or 20 cookies in an hour, they’ll take the one cookie immediately, because delaying gratification is an ability that most people only develop once they’ve hit some maturity milestones.

It’s an excellent trait to acquire, however, because it can be channeled to achieve all kinds of things.

For example, a person could refrain from going out for expensive dinners every week and thus save enough money to put a down payment on a house.

Or they might pursue further qualifications or specialized training to reach a long-term career goal, even though it means that in the short term, they’ll be earning less money and will have to be more frugal with money.

3. They control their urges and consider the consequences of their actions.

One of the harshest lessons a person can learn is that there are consequences to every action.

This becomes quite evident as a person matures, and as such they learn to control their urges and think about the long-term ramifications of their choices.

For example, although they may have the urge to tell Grandpa to get stuffed when he says something racist, they may end up being written out of his will.

Similarly, eating poorly and never exercising will inevitably result in poor health and limited motion when they age.

A person who’s maturing well will consider how every action could unfold down the road, and temper their urges accordingly so they don’t end up shooting themselves in the foot.

4. They learn from their mistakes and failures.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and that goes for personal missteps as well as sociopolitical upheaval.

As a person matures, they start to learn from their mistakes and recognize when they’re falling into similar behavioral patterns.

This prevents them from repeating the same errors and wondering why they never seem to move forward.

Furthermore, instead of seeing failure as defeat, they often see it as a challenge to overcome: if things don’t work out the first time, they try a different approach instead.

5. They seek to understand different perspectives and embrace diversity.

Immature, insecure people often only seek out the company of those who are similar to themselves because they’re uncomfortable with differences.

They balk at discussing different religious or philosophical ideas because knowing more may cause them to question their own beliefs, or they may have such deeply held biases and prejudices that they don’t allow themselves opportunities to learn differently.

It’s a great mark of maturity for a person to want to educate themselves on how different people experience the world.

Spending time with people of all different cultures, religions, neurotypes, abilities, etc. expands our perspectives exponentially, and encourages us to both embrace and celebrate diversity.

6. They know that everyone has value, rather than feeling superior to others.

Another great mark of maturity is the awareness that no human being is any greater or lesser than another.

Some people may have more money or status, but that doesn’t make them superior. If they lost their wealth, they would still have just as much value as every other person on the face of the planet.

Having this awareness allows us to treat others with equal respect and decency, regardless of their social standing or what clothing label they might be wearing.

Furthermore, when we let go of arrogance, we realize that every person we meet has the potential to teach us something new.

7. They recognize that people and situations are complex.

Very little in life is black and white (unless you’re looking at a zebra or a newspaper).

As such, every situation and person we encounter will have many nuances that need to be taken into consideration.

One major mark of a maturing person is the ability to recognize this and to adjust your mindset towards these situations (or people) accordingly.

The average person isn’t “bad” or “good”, but multifaceted.

Similarly, a challenging experience may be uncomfortable but yield amazing personal growth.

It’s important to note that “all or nothing” thinking is often a major trait in borderline personality disorder, in which people or situations are considered either all good or all bad, with no gray zone between.

If this is the case, then the reaction isn’t a lack of maturity so much as trauma that requires therapy to heal from.

8. They push past their comfort zones.

Whether they’re expanding their palates by trying different foods or traveling to a new location, people who are moving towards greater maturity know that the only way they’ll grow and develop as individuals is to seek out new experiences.

Remaining in your comfort zone to avoid any kind of anxiety and uncertainty is a surefire way to avoid personal growth.

People who don’t take risks end up stagnating, repeating a Groundhog Day-like existence due to a misplaced idea that this will keep them safe from uncomfortable or unwanted emotions.

9. They realize, “It’s not all about me”.

This realization can take many people a lifetime to reach, if ever.

Most people go through life behaving as though they’re the lead character in the world’s story, instead of acknowledging that they’re simply players on a massive stage.

As such, they behave as though the world revolves around getting their own needs met, and they don’t see a problem with manipulating others to attain this.

Mature people stop to consider how their actions might affect others, rather than solely focusing on their own needs and desires.

This includes the awareness of their impact on their social circle, society, and the natural environment as a whole.

They stop acting childish, thinking only of themselves, and focus more on what’s fair and decent for all.

10. They don’t take things personally.

A person who’s experiencing a turning point in their maturity journey may come to the epiphany that how someone else treats them has little to do with themselves but speaks volumes about that person and where they are mentally and emotionally.

For example, if you get screamed at by a customer at work despite doing absolutely nothing wrong, you can be assured that they’re dealing with some intense personal issues, rather than it being your fault.

When you realize this, other people’s actions stop affecting you personally.

The date who ghosted you likely didn’t do so because you’re awful, but because they’re dealing with some Big Stuff you aren’t aware of, and the friend who canceled on you didn’t do so because they hate you, but because they’re ill or upset, etc.

11. They don’t give up when things get difficult.

A person who’s evolving on their journey of maturity doesn’t bail when things start to get difficult, whether dealing with a relationship, personal endeavor, or commitment.

Immature people want “Good vibes only” and try to avoid anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

If their partner has a health crisis or the course they’re doing gets frustrating, they’ll just quit and start something new because it’s both easier and a lot more fun.

In contrast, a maturing person will see things through as far as they can.

They’ll complete their goals and stand by the people they care about, rather than being fair-weather friends or partners.

In essence, they can be depended upon because their integrity, maturity, and moral strength keep them going, no matter what.

12. They realize that their values matter more than other people’s approval.

Many people compromise their values by not living in alignment with them.

Some may remain quiet to keep the peace in their family or social group, while others may go along with activities they despise because they’re peer pressured into fitting in.

As a person matures, they realize that their values and principles matter far more than other people’s approval.

If they choose sobriety and get mocked because everyone else is drinking, they’ll change their social circle instead of meekly acquiescing and following the herd.

Furthermore, they don’t base their behaviors on what’s cool or trending, but instead hold true to what they know is right and best for themselves.

13. They choose proven reality over self-delusion.

It’s very easy to believe in our own self-deception.

Many people lie to themselves so often that they start to see their fiction as fact, and this can hamper them from any type of personal growth.

In contrast, a person who’s on a journey of maturity can turn a critical eye inward and call themselves out on their self-delusion.

This can range from ignoring massive red flags in relationships to rationalizing and making excuses for personal issues like addiction or poor behavior toward others.

It can also involve having a selective memory about past transgressions or avoiding serious problems regarding finances or health concerns.

A mature person will tackle these issues head-on (unless psychological distress like depression or PTSD gets in their way).

14. They know that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

If you’ve been online at all over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed that many people label dissenting opinions as “hate”.

Rather than discussing different opinions objectively, with logic and reason, many people polarize and take others’ views as extremes, resulting in frothing, angry invalidation of alternative beliefs.

If you’re moving forward in your journey of maturity, you’ve likely realized that you can disagree with someone without demonizing them.

Furthermore, although you may initially disagree with another’s perspective, you may learn why they feel or think the way they do, and thus broaden your awareness in doing so. 

To be able to discuss challenging topics without getting emotionally embroiled in them is a huge sign of maturity, as opposed to resorting to insults, ad hominem attacks, or physical violence.

15. They don’t show up to every argument they’re invited to.

Another way of phasing this is that they pick their battles wisely.

A maturing person recognizes that sometimes it’s better to compromise and find a middle ground that benefits everyone, rather than needing to be “right” or emerge as the victor when conflict arises.

Ultimately, they can determine what will (or won’t) be achieved by the stubborn need to be proven right in any situation, as they understand that they may win the battle but lose the war, so to speak.

Will a heated argument with one’s partner over the right way to arrange the cutlery drawer result in a healthier relationship? Or a breakup?

Maturity says that it really doesn’t matter—what matters is that they love their partner (and in the grand scheme of things it’s really not important which drawer the forks are in).


If you recognize most of these traits in yourself, congratulations! You’re proceeding wonderfully along the journey to maturity.

If you don’t, that’s ok. It’s called a journey for a reason.

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About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.