When you first hear the term “emotional adulthood,” you might think it’s connected to when our brains finish developing in our mid-twenties. But emotional adulthood has everything to do with your awareness of how your thoughts affect your feelings—and very little to do with when your brain finished forming. 

I realized I was still in emotional childhood just a few years ago, in my forties. But from that realization, I’ve grown into emotional adulthood. And I’m excited to announce that I’m in the process of becoming a certified life coach to help you reach emotional adulthood, too. 

If you’re already thinking you want to skip this episode because “emotional adulthood” sounds a bit too woo, don’t. We get so stuck in our heads that we often don’t realize what’s actually going on with us. Keep reading!

Master Shopkeepers members know that mindset is a top priority for me. I talk about it a lot and teach about it frequently, too! 

As much as I love the tangible work in our stores—the data tracking, financials, merchandising, buying, customer interaction, and all the other things we SEE and DO in our business—what’s most important is working on our MINDS.

What Does Emotional Adulthood Mean? 

Until fairly recently, I had never heard of “emotional adulthood.” I also had no idea that this was what I was seeking. So, if you’re wondering what this term means, I get it! 

Let’s look at a typical example of where most of us are stuck—emotional childhood—and how this can be detrimental.

emotional adulthood

The Lottery Winner: How Our Brains Keep Us Safe (And Broke)

Have you ever wondered why so many lottery winners crumble financially, emotionally, and psychologically after winning millions of dollars? The most straightforward answer is this: someone can win millions, but a big bank account doesn’t change how a person thinks.

Everyone has systemic thinking, programmed beliefs, and emotional baggage. None of that goes away just because you win a lump sum.

When someone wins the lottery, they still have the same thinking. If the winner previously struggled with money, they might still live in scarcity mode because that’s what their brain is used to and comfortable with.

Someone who feels incredibly uncomfortable with all the money might gamble it away, while someone else stuck in people pleasing might give it all away for acceptance. 

We’re human. If we don’t work on ourselves to change what and how we think, we remain in emotional childhood. When this happens, our brains are just doing their job—protecting and keeping us safe. Safe is somewhere I had to learn how to break free of. Playing “safe” felt suffocating to me.

How I Recognized I Was in Emotional Childhood

I started to break free from what felt safe in 2017 when I left my full-time career.

Then, in 2019, I took another step: I spent $10K on a business mastermind. 

I thought I would learn how to create a powerful marketing funnel and build an incredible online business. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, I was crumbling on mastermind group calls. 

The pandemic was awful. It was devastating to watch families lose loved ones—including my brother-in-law, who heartbreakingly lost his father. It also brought up all of my systemic thinking, programmed beliefs, and many things I had suppressed for decades. 

Some of the thoughts and programmed beliefs that came to the surface for me during this time included: 

“I’m a woman in a man’s world.”

“I’m not smart enough, good enough, or worthy enough.”

“I can’t have THAT—what will people think?!”

“I shouldn’t want that; it’s greedy. Money is evil.”

And that’s just a sampling of what bubbled to the surface. It makes me uncomfortable to share those thoughts, even now.

I was watching everyone in this mastermind soaring and succeeding….and me? I was stuck. I was crying on Zoom calls. And I felt SO inadequate during this program. 

Long story short, I did NOT learn how to grow my businesses during this mastermind. But what I did learn was that I was in emotional childhood in my forties! 

No matter what I did, what goals I would set and hit, what revenue I generated, where I worked or didn’t work, how much I traveled, or what car I drove…

…I would feel stuck my entire life until I addressed what was happening in my mind. I had to learn to break free from all the thinking holding me back. 

I was blaming everything and everyone else for playing small. You wouldn’t know it—I didn’t verbalize or articulate this to anyone. It’s just what was going on in my head.

Eventually, it clicked. 

If I’m not taking responsibility for myself and not addressing or working through the programmed thinking and people-pleasing, of course I’m going to be stuck.

You might think, “Well, that’s just how it is, Kathy. We all experience feeling stuck.” 

And I get it. That’s what my brain was telling me, too: “This is just the way it is. Deal with it!” I believed that wholeheartedly—until I learned that I CAN change this. I have the power to change it.

What Emotional Adulthood Looks Like

It doesn’t matter what goals you reach if you’re in emotional childhood. You will feel like it’s NEVER ENOUGH.  

I’ve heard dozens of podcast episodes of successful business owners sharing stories about their journey. A common theme is that they would set big goals, hit those goals…and not find any joy in it. 

I thought this was unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine making $500K, then a million, then 3 million, then 10 million, and still not feeling good about all that success.

So why do so many successful business owners hit these incredible goals, but no matter how many they hit or how much they make, they never feel good?! 

It’s because they are stuck in emotional childhood. 

Our brains do so much work to keep us safe. But that safety often keeps us from achieving our bigger aspirations—especially when our brains tell us we’re not smart enough, worthy enough, or good enough to reach those goals as a way of keeping us exactly where we already are.  

Emotional adulthood, on the other hand, looks like learning how to…

  • Take responsibility for yourself
  • Stop blaming other people for where you are in your life and business
  • Choose your own thoughts
  • Forgive yourself and others
  • Really understand your desires and do something about them

Suffice it to say, emotional adulthood is gold, y’all! 

If I circle back to my own story, I invested $10K to take action to grow the revenue in my business. But what I really needed to do was invest in me and my mind first. 

The leader of this mastermind was not equipped to deal with what was happening to me. However, he was wise enough to hire a life coach to support the group. Connecting with her and hiring her post-mastermind is what started to turn everything around for me and my life. 

emotional adulthood

How Getting Coached Helped Me Reach Emotional Maturity

When I decided to invest in ME, I hit the jackpot. My emotional maturity started to trickle into ALL parts of my life. 

My businesses, relationships with others, and, most importantly, my relationship with MYSELF all improved.

So, what changed for me?

1. I started acknowledging my desires. Even more importantly, I started prioritizing them, even when it felt “selfish.” 

2. I learned to set boundaries. Once I understood that boundaries aren’t meant to hurt others but to protect me, they became much easier to set. 

Do I understand—and can I manage—my mind completely? No way. I am a work in progress. But I will continue to work on ME.

My emotional maturity, meaning my capacity to understand what’s going on in my mind and how it creates my feelings, has to come first. Otherwise, I’ll forever stay stuck.

In emotional childhood, everything triggers you. Everyone is annoying and out to get you or your business or both. It’s everyone else’s fault that you are where you are in life.

I asked my coach, Neill, which thoughts held me back the most. After working together and seeing my personal growth for years, this is what she said: 

  • My thoughts about money
  • How I like to “save” people (this pairs well with people-pleasing)
  • Discounting my value (I wasn’t expecting this one, but it’s SO true!)

She also said that she knows I’m in emotional adulthood because I don’t have any worries about regret. And she’s so right!

I saw and continue to see how constructive coaching can be. 

Why I’m Becoming a Certified Life Coach

Coaching isn’t therapy. But it is a tool to help you see what’s going on in your mind, and then it provides you with additional tools for changing your thinking.

I’m happy to share that I am in the process of getting certified myself! This was another BIG investment in me, my business, and all of you—and it just might be the most crucial investment I’ve ever made. 

I’m not the type of person who needs initials after my name or a fancy title in front of it. What drives me is my why: to help store owners work smarter, profit more, and grow. 

If I can continue to work on my mind and help you SEE and work on YOUR mind, it will be some of the most impactful work I have ever done. It already is.

While participating in that business mastermind and then shifting to working 1:1 with Neill, I learned I could want more things. I could have big goals and work towards them. 

But what I needed most was to get off the hamster wheel of hustle and get myself UNSTUCK. Stepping into emotional adulthood is how I did so—and staying in it is how  I continue to prioritize my emotional health and wealth. 


  • Join Master Shopkeepers, the only territory-protected retail training mastermind! You’ll get access to valuable lessons & resources, coaching calls, and a vibrant community of your fellow store owners cheering you on.


  • [03:50] What Does Emotional Adulthood Mean? 
  • [06:30] How I Recognized I Was in Emotional Childhood
  • [11:37] What Emotional Adulthood Looks Like
  • [14:22] How Getting Coached Helped Me Reach Emotional Maturity
  • [18:28] Why I’m Becoming a Certified Life Coach

Connect With Kathy

Kathy Cruz is a brick and mortar store owner and retail coach. She helps shopkeepers work less, profit more, and grow their brick and mortar businesses through her podcast, quiz, and retail coaching mastermind.
Website: www.savvyshopkeeper.com  |  Instagram: @savvyshopkeeper

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