Adulthood and responsibility. Becoming - life vs death

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I've been looking at my life through new eyes recently, and realized that just like dialectic toolset (the ability to handle emotions gracefully) this topic is perhaps another universal experience that needs to be brought to light and shared.

It seems to fit with Dąbrowski's theory of positive disintegration, and is most likely the fuel for following his work. It also fits with the topic of developing conscience, and most likely stoic principles.

I don't often consider the bible (having out right rejected it as a child), but always remembered this quote. I feel it's a good starting point for the topic.

1 Corinthians 13English Standard Version (ESV)

The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


To truly love (and live) is to risk all, the ability to face death.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-experience/201306/six-aspects-being-adult
Six Aspects of Being an Adult
Living Life as an Authentic Adult Post published by Robert Firestone Ph.D. on Jun 24, 2013 in The Human Experience

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

~ e.e. cummings

Most people are unaware that they are conducting their lives more from a child’s frame of reference than in an adult mode. Although men and women mature physically and become more capable in their practical lives, rarely do they achieve emotional maturity. In my view, the primary barriers to maturity are unresolved childhood trauma, the defenses the child forms to ward off emotional pain and existential dread. The latter refers to a core anxiety related to growing up, facing the fact that time is passing, and giving value to life in spite of death’s inevitability.

There are six major aspects of the adult approach to life: {Many of these themes as discussed in Dąbrowski's work}

1. Rationality: Adults experience their emotions, but when it comes to their actions, they make rational decisions on the basis of self-interest and moral concerns. As Murray Bowen observed, adults “are able to distinguish between the feeling process and the intellectual process…and [have] the ability to choose between having one’s functioning guided by feelings or by thoughts.” They have a strong sense of identity and strive to live with integrity, according to their own principles and values.

2. Formulating and Implementing Goals: Adults formulate goals and take the appropriate actions to achieve them. In this respect, they establish their priorities in life. In contrast, people living within a child’s frame of reference often overreact emotionally to events that are insignificant in the overall scheme of their lives, and fail to respond to events that are important or crucial to their well-being. Because adults tend to pursue their goals and priorities honestly, their actions are more likely to correspond to their words.

3. Equality in Relationships: Adults seek equality in their relationships whereas those who operate from a child’s perspective often assume the role of either the parent or the child in relation to their loved ones. In Voice Therapy (link is external), I described how adult individuals interact in a close relationship: “People whose actions are based primarily on the adult mode relate to each other as independent individuals with considerable give and take in terms of reciprocal need gratification.” They have developed their capacity for both giving and accepting love and do not attempt to recreate a parent in their partner by forming an imagined connection or fantasy bond (link is external) with them for safety and security.

4. Active versus Passive: Adults are proactive and self-assertive, rather than passive and dependent. They don’t feel victimized by life or complain or dump their problems onto other people; instead, they face their problems or challenges directly and work out solutions rather than depending on others for direction. They seek help only in relation to what they actually need, as in areas where they lack expertise, not in relation to unresolved emotional needs from the past.

5. Non-defensiveness and Openness: People who are emotionally mature do not have defensive or angry reactions to feedback; they do not offhandedly disagree with negative commentary. Instead they are open to exploring new ideas, welcome constructive criticism and, in this way, they expand their self-knowledge and self-awareness.

Adults seek self knowledge to know themselves and develop an accurate self-concept; they are aware of both the positive and negative aspects of their personalities and have a realistic perspective of themselves in relation to others. In their pursuit of self-knowledge, they are aware of unconscious motivation, open to the analyis of that dimension of mental life and attempt to integrate it to the best of their ability.

6. Personal Power: People do not have control over their thoughts and feelings; these arise unbidden in the course of everyday life. However, adults take full power (link is external)over every part of their conscious existence. Indeed, they change any behavior or characteristic that they dislike in themselves, such as being overweight or abusing substances. In this sense, adults approach their lives from the standpoint of being responsible for their destiny.

The Child Mode

When people experience the world in the child mode, they feel powerless and at the mercy of others as well as overpowered by their own feeling reactions. In the actual world of the child, the child is helpless and totally dependent and is often the victim of negative circumstances that are beyond his/her control. Children feel, but they are generally unable to act or protest outwardly in their own defense (link is external).

I was impressed with the way one woman described a child’s perspective in a personal narrative (link is external):

Recently, someone reminded me about the unconscious desire to be a child, and it hit me. I never heard it that clearly. It’s ruining my life and making me unhappy. I’m 41, and I’m sick of it.

The life of a child is helpless, scary and powerless. Functioning in an adult world as a child creates a never-ending misery of inequality, fear and paranoia. As a child, anyone can control and overrun you. As an adult, of course, you own your life and destiny. But if you remain a child in your adult life, you look at the world around you as dominating, controlling and dangerous. That’s a miserable life.

I’ve lived my adult years searching for my parents; not the obvious ones I was born to, but their replacements. My subconscious desire to have parents in my adult life has caused me years of discontent.

The major deterrent to living an adult existence lies in the fear of growing up. This includes the fear of breaking imagined connections with parents, being alone, standing out as an individual, having a strong point of view, recognizing one’s value and confronting the inevitability of death, the ultimate separation from self. Like this woman, many people have a strong desire to hold on to fantasy bonds or imagined connections to parents and their symbolic substitutes that offer safety, yet at great cost to their personal development. To live like a child in an adult world is itself a defense against death anxiety (link is external).

In her story, the woman revealed how, in an attempt to preserve the illusory connection to her parents, she recreated her father in her husband and her mother in close women friends. She went on to describe why she held on to her identity of being “the bad child” for so many years.

To hang on to this old identity with all my might, for many years, was so compelling…why? All I can answer to this is remaining a child, although miserable, is farther away from the agony of aging and death. So the compelling draw is hard to let go of.

Of course, I still have my moments of childish reactions, but I’m learning to catch them, notice the almost physical feeling that comes on, and stop it before I engage. I will make mistakes, but I plan to forge forward as an adult, and search instead for equality. Nonetheless, this leaves me very alone. And the aloneness leaves me anxious, and sad…but it’s real. And life as an equal, although painful, is fuller. And I’m ready for the challenge.

In summary, living in the child mode is largely chaotic and dysfunctional, whereas living one’s life as a adult is generally more adaptive and successful. Retaining a child’s frame of reference has numerous disadvantages: for example, people who operate from this perspective often find it difficult to formulate their goals and priorities in life and tend to feel helpless and victimized (link is external). They blame others for the problems they encounter rather than taking responsibility for how people react to them. In reality, people largely determine the course of their lives and determine the way that others respond. Lastly, reacting to life in a childlike manner can be quite emotional but often lacks a depth of genuine feeling.

Accepting the premise that living in the adult mode is obviously preferable, why is it that so many people function as children emotionally and stubbornly refuse to grow up? This question will be answered and the psychodynamics of the situation elaborated in part two of this blog.

This is again one of those things that I assumed to be true - as I had physically ages, so I had become and adult. On reflection of my own life, this is clearly not true.
I am operating from a child's perspective in an adult body. And upon seeing this, I realized that it's a choice we need to make based on understanding.
Aging means having more capacity to DO, but required Will and Choice to engage.

I can look back and see that being faced with the responsibility of 'adulthood' petrified me (and still does when I am operating from a child's perspective).
A useful new mantra then is 'I got this'.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-experience/201307/why-people-fear-growing-and-functioning-adults
Why People Fear Growing Up and Functioning as Adults
There are five major aspects to the fear of growing up. Post published by Robert Firestone Ph.D. on Jul 01, 2013 in The Human Experience

In a previous blog, “6 Aspects of Being an Adult (link is external)," I briefly described the reasons why so many people operate as children emotionally and refuse to grow up. I discussed how, to varying degrees, individuals are restricted in their ability to function in an adult mode because of “unresolved childhood trauma and the defenses (link is external) they form to relieve emotional pain and existential dread.” In this blog, I explore the psychodynamics underlying the tendency to hold onto a child’s perspective despite the emotional turmoil, maladaptation and unhappiness it creates.

The principle barriers to living an adult existence are the fears associated with becoming adult. There are five major aspects to the fear of growing up:

1. Symbolic separation from parents and other individuals who have offered some sense of security. This occurs as we mature, form a new and different identity, choose our own path in life and establish new relationships. These types of separation experiences can arouse a sense of loss related and fear. When we are anxious or frightened, we tend to reconnect to dependency bonds. {Birthdays always created quote a lot of nameless existential dread and loneliness in me}

2. Preference for fantasy as a defense mechanism over reality considerations. Painful events in childhood often lead to suppression, dissociation and varying degrees of retreat into fantasy processes. These habit patterns become addictive and long lasting.

3. The threat of feeling one’s aloneness. Knowing ourselves as independent, authentic adults makes us acutely aware of painful existential issues. In addition, there is a fear of being different or standing out from the crowd. This is related to the primitive evolutionarily based threat of being separated or ostracized from the tribe, which is emotionally equivalent to being left to die.

4. Adults have more responsibilities for self and others. In general, adults carry a heavier dependency load, as they are looked to for direction, support and actual parenting. This makes them more cognizant of the fact that their own unresolved dependency needs from childhood will remain unfulfilled. {Taking Dąbrowski's view, being aware of these things is a blessing. As such, taking responsibility for yourself and others can be the fuel for growth.}

5. Death anxiety. Death fears (link is external) are triggered by both negative and positive events. As people sense time passing, are confronted with sickness, frustrations in life and reminders of death, they fear about their mortality. Paradoxically, as men and women give special value to their lives, experience unusual successes, and find new and unique gratifications, they tend to suffer more death anxiety. The more we value life, the more we have to lose in death. {Which brings us back to Love as quoted above}

Generally speaking, most people retreat from being fully alive adults in order to avoid reawakening the unconscious, as well as conscious, feelings of terror surrounding death. Indeed, systematic research indicates that people respond to the fear of personal mortality at a subliminal level yet modify their lives accordingly, often without any awareness of their death anxiety.

Sometime between the ages of 3 and 7, children first realize the fact that they will eventually die. They handle this crisis by repressing the loneliness (link is external), hopelessness, rage and terror surrounding the evolving awareness of their finite existence. They institute numerous defenses (link is external) to surpress and deny the reality of death and form fantasies of fusion (link is external) in an effort to insure that the unconscious pain and dread will not resurface. Once the child suppresses the fear of death, certain events in life arouse or intensify it, whereas other circumstances and defenses relieve it. The defenses that ameliorate or quiet death anxiety act as a major interference to becoming an authentic adult.
{One of my reoccurring dreams from those years where that of my own death}

Defenses that reduce death anxiety but act as a barrier to personal growth and maturity.

The Fantasy Bond (link is external): The core defense is the fantasy bond, originally an imagined connection with one’s parents, that offers a modicum of safety and security. Early in life, children form this illusion to compensate for personal trauma, i.e. to reduce feelings of emotional hunger (link is external) and frustration brought about by deprivation, rejection, separation and loss. Later, these same fantasy connections are transferred to new relationships, groups and causes. Because of this propensity to cling to unreasonable dependency ties, people tend to remain fixated at a child’s level of functioning. They project negative aspects of the attachment (link is external)with their parents onto current situations often recreating their early trauma in the present day. The extent to which people come to rely on fantasies of fusion while reliving the past is proportional to the degree of psychological pain they experienced in childhood. People excessively involved in fantasy bonds tend to be overly dependent on others, progressively maladaptive and fail to function successfully as adults.

Under conditions of stress, when parents are largely mis-attuned or punitive, children cease identifying with themselves as the helpless child, identify with the powerful, punishing parent and take on those negative traits as their own. In other words, they incorporate their parents at their worst not as they are typically, and find safety in thinking, acting and feeling like their parents. To preserve this imagined connection, one must retain a sense of sameness and avoid differentiation (link is external). People feel frightened to both move away from the merged identity with their parents and to break with any negative identity (link is external) they acquired in their families.

During this process of incorporation, when children feel overwhelmed by fear, they fragment into both the parent and the child. As they grow older, they continue to treat themselves much as they were treated, both nourishing and punishing themselves in the same manner their parents did. The result is that people tend to vacillate between the parental and childish state, both of which are immature. Consequently, they spend only a small por­tion of their time in the adult mode.
{Here we can see the 'negative introject' and taking on negative/narcissistic programming from parents and society}

Literal and symbolic denial of death: The fear of death drives people to form belief systems and worldviews that deny existential realities by offering literal or symbolic immortality. In Beyond Death Anxiety: Achieving Life-Affirming Death Awareness (link is external), I described literal immortality as manifested “in beliefs in an after-life or reincarnation, which have a calming effect on unconscious death anxiety.” People who approach life from a child’s perspective often extend the fantasized connection with their all-powerful parents to various religious belief systems and share with fellow believers the magical conclusion that there is a God in the heavens acting as a parental figure who rewards and punishes them. They are truly God’s children.
{Authoritarian followers and those raised in atheist families suddenly 'finding god'?}

Symbolic immortality is manifested in the imagination that one can live on through one’s works, through the accumulation of power and wealth, or through one’s children. However, children are capable of relieving their parents’ death anxiety only if they make similar choices, entertain the same political and religious beliefs, and exhibit similar personality traits. Many parents attempt to defend themselves by molding a child in their image, insisting on sameness and discouraging their child’s unique interests and goals.

Vanity:{Narcissism and ego defined 'self-esteem'} People who exist in a child mode often possess an exaggerated positive image of themselves in certain areas. This sense of being special offers a kind of magical thinking that denies their vulnerability to death. On an unconscious level, they believe that death happens to someone else, never to them. They retain an image of invincibility and omnipotence, which served as a survival mechanism in early childhood, and utilize it whenever they become anxious regarding their mortality. The trouble is that vanity and narcissism (link is external)set people up for painful experiences of disillusionment and rejection. Attempting to maintain a superior image causes them a good deal of unnecessary stress and anxiety. {Disillusionment and anxiety are excellent fuels for Positive Disintegration}

Preoccupation with trivial issues and problems: The certainty of death can lead to a basic paranoia that many people project onto other aspects of life that do not warrant an intense reaction of helplessness and powerlessness. People distract themselves with everyday problems and trivial events to which they over react with anger, fear and panic. When preoccupied in this way, they are able to shut out feelings about life and death concerns but at the expense of feeling childish and powerless. {I think that sums up society and the 'war on of terror'}

Microsuicide:{I wonder if this is what causes 'essence to die', as described by G that some people are hollow and dead inside} Microsuicide refers to a myriad of defenses that interfere with the attainment of emotional maturity by accommodating to death anxiety through attacking or limiting oneself. In trying to exert control over their fate, people narrow their experience and gratification thereby giving up important aspects of living, including meaningful relationships, mature sexuality and significant priorities and goals. In retaining attitudes of progressive self-denial and self-hatred (link is external)along with maintaining addictions (link is external), dangerous risk-taking behaviors and other self-defeating habit patterns, people shut out pain and create a false sense of omnipotence with respect to the reality of death. By diminishing their lives, they have less to lose in dying. However, in their retreat, they tend to experience painful feelings of existential guilt about their self-betrayal and feel regret for a life not fully lived.
{Pause an ask yourself: How do I limit myself? How do I beat down or diminish my existence?}

In Conclusion

Fear, especially the fear of death, constitutes the ultimate resistance to a fulfilling and successful life. Living as mature adults with a minimum of the defenses described in this blog, leaves people acutely aware of their aloneness and of the uncertainty and ambiguity of life. At the same time, it offers virtually unlimited possibilities for personal gratification and self-expression, and is well worth fighting for.

People can aspire to developing a mature approach to life and move toward a more satisfying and freer existence. This subject will be addressed in my next blog.

It should be noted that this 'child mode' is not about not being playful, creative, curious, fun or humorous.
An 'adult' without who suppresses those qualities is just as limited and incomplete/immature.

http://www.psychalive.org/how-to-become-more-adult-and-successful-in-your-life/
How to Become More Adult and Successful in Your Life
Fear is the primary enemy to becoming an adult. Psychological defenses that are limiting and to some extent dysfunctional are strengthened and intensified when people become anxious. Yet anxiety states are often reacted to subliminally and defenses are instituted and affect our behavior without conscious awareness. In that sense, you cannot approach your fear directly; however, you can address the problem of being an adult by recognizing and challenging defenses and altering childish behavior patterns. Besides, people can become alert to situations and personal interactions that trigger their fear of growing up and can take control over negative actions that relieve or quiet the fear. In this blog, I address key issues that are significantly helpful in maintaining an adult posture in life.

Learn how you are childish and challenge a passive-dependent orientation.

Identify behaviors that are symptomatic of the child mode and change them by adopting more adult responses. Among the more straightforward, easily identifiable childish behaviors are sulking, whining, complaining, manipulating to get sympathy, continually seeking direction, acting in a disor­ganized, incompetent and irresponsible manner, procrastinating, habitual lateness, driving recklessly, carelessness and slovenliness and being neglectful in relation to one’s health.
In addition, it is important to challenge feelings of inferiority, submissiveness and a passive-dependent orientation in relation to authority figures, friends and loved ones. By holding on to parental substitutes and continuing to depend excessively on others by acquiescing to their wants, needs and points of view, it is evident that you will remain a child. It is also important to recognize when you are being defiant or rebellious in your responses and strive to take a more rational adult position. Submission and defiance are equally childish; both are outer directed and tend to elicit pa­rental responses of either approval or disapproval.

Take power over your life.

Anything under conscious control can be changed deliberately. People can consciously change negative character traits, destructive habit patterns and addictions. Only thoughts and feelings are automatic; they can only be understood and changed indirectly through insight into unconscious phenomena. One method is to look for discrepancies between your actions and your stated goals; these contradictions are often caused by unconscious or partly conscious “critical inner voices.” By bringing these voices into conscious awareness and recognizing how they are influencing your behavior, you can change behaviors that are dictated by the internal negative thought process and gain insight into areas of your life where you have difficulty maintaining an adult perspective.

The “critical inner voice” is made up of a system of negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes toward oneself and others that predispose varying degrees of alienation. The voice can be harsh, punishing and demeaning, or seemingly positive, self-protective and indulgent. It strongly influences the acting out of self-defeating microsuicidal behaviors that adversely effect one’s life. The voice represents the internalization of parents’ rejecting, negative attitudes or actual hostility toward the child, as well as their maladaptive point of view about life. A person can learn to identify their self-attacks, recognize their source, estimate their effect on their behavior and counter them by taking constructive action.
I have developed systematic Voice Therapy procedures to help clients with this negative process that effectively improves their lives. If you are in trouble psychologically or merely wish to further develop yourself, I strongly recommend seeking out a personal psychotherapy experience. It will offer a unique opportunity to understand yourself and expand your life.

Observe your emotions, but govern your actions by rationality. Your choice of actions should further your best interests and goals and fit your moral considerations.

People are capable of acting rationally in spite of strong feeling reactions. This works most efficiently when they observe and regulate their emotional responses and identify the primal elements in their reactions. Primal feelings are typically intense and dramatic, and there is an urgency to express them. These powerful feelings represent a reliving of emotions you suffered in childhood. Being aware of primal components in your feelings helps diminish their intensity and defuses melodrama and overreactions.

Taking time to reflect on your emotions {see the Dialectic Toolset} and considering the consequences of your actions fosters a rational approach to problem solving.

It is particularly important to learn to accept angry emotions. Anger is a normal reaction to frustration that is proportional to the degree of frustration experienced. Anger, like all feelings, must be allowed free reign in consciousness, while the acting out of anger must be subject to both ethical and reality considerations. Incidentally, angry feelings can be a source of energy and vitality when they are under your control.

Don’t blame others for your failures or rejections. You create your own world.

Refrain from blaming other people or circumstances for your mistakes, failures or rejections. People are largely unaware of the degree that they are responsible for the situations that they face in life. For example, we recreate the world of our childhood through our selection of partners, in the way we actually distort them and finally in the way we provoke them.

Recognize that perceiving others as responsible for your problems is immature and maladaptive. In actuality, you create your own circumstances, so you can be active in changing them. Furthermore, when things go wrong, it serves no purpose to attack or punish yourself as well. With the right attitude, you can simply learn from negative experiences and handle things differently. Be more accepting of your mistakes, because if you believe that you dare not fail, then you cannot act. People are paralyzed by insisting on perfection and end up berating themselves and others for their failures.

Don’t be defensive; seek out feedback, particularly criticism, and respond accordingly.

It is valuable to seek objective criticism. Honestly‑stated critical percep­tions of you are actually gifts that can contribute to your self-knowledge and understanding. You are fortunate to find out the truth about yourself, even if it is negative. In a relationship, refrain from reacting to feedback by attacking your partner, crying or falling apart, punishing with the silent treatment or “stonewalling.” These are childish responses that effectively silence the other person and gradually lead to a shutting down of lines of communication within couples. Instead, look for the truth in any information you hear that is negative, even though your knee-jerk reaction may understandably be one of anger or embarrassment. Carefully consider or explore feedback rather than reject it summarily, then decide which aspects of the feedback you agree or disagree with, and respond from an adult perspective.

Develop goals, both personal and transcendent, and live by them with integrity. {See Dąbrowski's Positive Disintegration}

An important aspect of being an adult involves envisioning goals that express your unique identity and interests, and then taking the actions necessary to achieve these goals. Actively strive and compete for your objectives, both personal and vocational, rather than seeking satisfaction in fantasy. Make a concerted effort to maintain personal integrity in your life by insisting that your actions correspond to your words.
Investing energy in transcendent goals and activities that extend beyond one’s self interest, for example, contributing to a humanitarian cause or trying, in some way, to improve the lot of future generations, helps build self-esteem. In a certain sense, it is selfish to be generous and giving, and it is a sound mental health approach.

Become aware of your defenses and challenge them.

Psychological defenses that protected you from painful feelings as a child are now dysfunctional, restrictive of your life and interfere with your developing a mature, adult perspective. It is important to challenge the methods you still use to protect yourself from pain and anxiety. Be especially aware of reliance on fantasy, additive patterns and actual addictions.

In a very real sense, it is safer to be vulnerable and open in relationships. Adults, unlike children, can cope with the possibility of rejection and loss; they are not dependent on others for maintaining their lives. {Context is important here though. Knowledge of psychopaths and narcissism in yourself and others is critical. Perhaps your way of not being an adult is to seek submissive or exciting relationships - i.e. attraction to abusers} Besides, remaining defended tends to guarantee negative outcomes or failure in developing close, satisfying and loving relationships. Beware of forming fantasy bonds or illusions of connection with your partner; although they may reduce anxiety and offer a sense of security, they limit your ability to love or accept real love in your life. Utilizing others for safety or as a defense against one’s sense of aloneness and existential pain seriously interferes with genuine relating.

Cope with the fear of death.

Latent or actual death anxiety acts as a core resistance to adult development. In Beyond Death Anxiety: Achieving Life-Affirming Death Awareness, I wrote, “Facing issues of mortality can imbue life with a special meaning in relation to its finality and heighten an awareness of the preciousness of each moment…” When death fears surface in the course of everyday life, you can face up to the realization of your personal mortality, identify the accompanying emotions of fear, sadness and rage, and find a way to communicate your thoughts and feelings to those people you trust.

Focus your attention on living fully in the present rather than imagining the future. Death is not happening to you now, and it serves no purpose to dwell on the fact that you are going to die someday, or to rehearse or ruminate about the anguish of how you might feel at that time. Actually, it is counterproductive to anticipate and pre-live negative outcomes of any kind. It causes unnecessary pain and suffering and arouses debilitating voice attacks. It requires courage to remain in the present and to live fully despite your finite existence. Living in an adult mode involves remaining vulnerable to both the joy and sadness inherent in the human condition. {And we are right back to the Dialectic Toolset - facing the dialectic of joy and sadness. And in a Work context using that friction as fuel for growth.}
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Interesting stuff. I have always been embarrassed that I didn't start to become an adult until Inwas in my fifties. Seems late, but I guess it's pretty common.

The post is intimidatingly long, though, Redfox. Maybe just the first quoted passage would be enough with links so people can go there if they want more without wading through a long post. There was a lot of repetition. But thanks for bringing it here, very useful in the context of the work where we're trying to become adults.
 

RedFox

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Ah, sorry for the length :-[
I'll see if I can come up with a short more succinct version.
 

Moonbird

Jedi
Mr. Premise said:
Interesting stuff. I have always been embarrassed that I didn't start to become an adult until Inwas in my fifties. Seems late, but I guess it's pretty common.

I agree. I am 53 and finally feel "maturity" taking hold. And I look forward to getting older and continuing to mature. When I look back at my 30's and 40's, it astounds me that I've made it this far. I would not want to go back there either. Unless I could have known then what I know now, thanks in large part to this forum.

Thanks for posting this RedFox.
 

T.C.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi Redfox

This is again one of those things that I assumed to be true - as I had physically ages, so I had become and adult. On reflection of my own life, this is clearly not true.
I am operating from a child's perspective in an adult body.

I'm wondering what it is that has prompted you to make this thread. I don't in any way want to take away from the importance of the subject matter in general, but as it relates to you, how do you think it "clearly isn't true" that you have become an adult and that you're operating from a child's perspective in an adult body?

How do other forum members feel about their 'level of maturity'?

Mr. Premise said:
Interesting stuff. I have always been embarrassed that I didn't start to become an adult until Inwas in my fifties.

What's the difference between the way you feel now and the way you felt at, say, 40yrs old, Mr. Premise?

Moonbird said:
I agree. I am 53 and finally feel "maturity" taking hold.

How does maturity feel, Moonbird?

I think a big part of it can be the "life-fruits' that one produces. I also think it's got a lot to do with life being one's religion, living in harmony with nature in the sense that one interacts with reality more based on how it is in itself, rather than how one would like it to be or believes it to be.

I don't really FEEL that much different to when I was a teenager, in terms of being like a different person - but I do know that I am a very different person, and I base that on what I'm able to do, the standard of living I have achieved under my own steam, knowing what I'm capable of and having a faith in myself, how I interact with other people etc.

One of the items in the quote refers to a symptom of immaturity being how much we feel the need to talk about ourselves, our dislikes or annoyances, with people we know, work with, socialise with. I think people who do that have a degree of neediness, a desire to have their subjective and trivial reactions to their experiences affirmed by other people, rather than - at the lowest level - recognise their relative pointlessness - at another level - understand that the other person doesn't really care - at a higher level - have the self-awareness to sort these feelings out inside themselves and realise how much energy they're wasting when there are truly serious issues they could be spending it on.

I know I was this type of talker before I found the Work. I'm not any more. And so I consider myself more mature than I was, because I don't have the childlike disposition of always looking to 'the other' (the parent) to judge my experiences for me... anyway, there isn't really anyone I can talk to about the stuff that concerns me these days :lol:

I think the first and last quotes have a lot of very helpful concepts in them. I'm not sure how useful the psychoanalytical stuff in the second quote is. I think that kind of stuff is more Platonic (amorphous) rather than Stoic (dealing with the real, practical). When one begins to apply discipline to their lives, programs kick in in real time. If we've done our best to go over our childhood, we can often come to some understanding about where the programs come from in a practical way, rather than a Freudian way.

Sometimes, if there's something I need to do, I'll get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that says, "Nah, don't bother." It could be "the threat of feeling my aloneness" or "death anxiety", but I just think it's because I had everything done for me by my mother right up until I was 20yrs old, and I never learned what aspects of my life were my domain and my responsibility, and I've now got a deeply ingrained, underlying belief that I don't need to do things because if I leave them they get done by someone else. This irrational belief still pings in me now, but I've learned to ignored it and I get on with my responsibilities.

So what IS maturity? Is it a complex thing? Is it a simple thing? Is the term useful as an aim to work towards in itself, or is maturity better understood as just a by-product of being a better Obyvatel, considering oneself lightly and the world deeply, being independent, having a realistic view of reality rather than a fantastic one?
 

Keyhole

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T.C. said:
How do other forum members feel about their 'level of maturity'?
I acknowledge and feel like I am still essentially a child, because I am only 21 years old.

But on the subject of this thread, my impression was that it is referring to the level of emotional maturity that a person has reached, and how to become an "adult" in the sense that an adult would longer act on/behave in ways that are dictated by childhood emotional traumas that have not been dealt with (Neural circuitry that was formed in childhood). Theoretically, unless someone has processed these traumatic experiences and then has gradually implemented changes to alter their behavioural patterns (which creates new neural pathways), then they will continue to act out the (protective) behaviours that were utilized in childhood for safety purposes and therefore act out child-like behaviours. You might be interested in reading the following thread: Buffers, Programs and the Predators Mind
 

Turgon

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Thanks for putting this together, Redfox. In particular the first part that outlines the difference between adult mode and child mode is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about. Without trying to simplify the Work, I have often wondered if it's ultimately about learning to become an adult in this world and letting go of childish/narcissistic mode of thinking, or rather feeling, that seems to dominate most people's level of being. Meaning there is a lot of intellectual development in people as they get older (one hopes) but with out the concomitant emotional development. I see this in myself all the time and how much of a struggle it is to look at situations like an adult where I assess and act in a way that a responsible, stable human being would, not a reactionary little kid.

The ideal that we have when it comes to what we wanted and needed from our parents, as well how each of us would need to be in order to be truly giving, caring and nurturing parents would require an incredible amount of patience and emotional maturity not to react emotionally and consider the needs of a child or someone else before our own, while at the same time maintaining ourselves, realizing our abilities and limits, and maintaining proper boundaries with a minimal of projection occurring.

It's actually a tall order to become an adult in this world! And I often see people who are much older than me act and behave like children but very few who are adults in the way that is described in this thread. It's also something that I am constantly trying to work on, to catch myself when I'm behaving and acting like a child, which can often be the norm rather than the exception. We are constantly a work in progress though, and I think Gurdjieff said it well when he mentioned the constant inner-striving for self-perfection.

One book that touches on the subject a bit is The Narcissistic Family
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
[quote author=TC]
So what IS maturity? Is it a complex thing? Is it a simple thing? Is the term useful as an aim to work towards in itself, or is maturity better understood as just a by-product of being a better Obyvatel, considering oneself lightly and the world deeply, being independent, having a realistic view of reality rather than a fantastic one?
[/quote]

From a psychological standpoint, maturity is expressed by ability to respond adaptively to various situations in life.

Being a "good obyvatel" in the Gurdjieffian sense means a person who is able to support oneself and others through his/her efforts and who has a common sense/practical understanding about how the world works.


Maturity can be a broader concept than what a "obyvatel" can attain to through his/her direct experience but the two are related. In other words, an obyvatel need not necessarily be mature in a broad sense of the term, but a mature person would most likely have passed the obyvatel stage - osit.

As for the word "becoming" used in the title of the thread, its meaning goes beyond psychology into philosophy and spirituality.
 

Moonbird

Jedi
T.C. said:
Moonbird said:
I agree. I am 53 and finally feel "maturity" taking hold.

How does maturity feel, Moonbird?

Maturity to me feels like a calm and more steady approach in my day-to-day living. I feel more clarity and confidence at this point in my life than I ever have before. And the roller coaster of my emotions aren't running the show all the time. Feels like I've gained a bit of a foothold in my life. I think finding the Work and having an aim has helped me greatly towards feeling this.

And, as you said T.C., living in harmony with nature in the sense that one interacts with reality based on how it is in itself, rather than how one would like it to be or believes it to be. Before learning this, life felt confusing to me. I was always trying to figure things out, how life works, what to believe, what not to believe. etc. I don't feel that confusion like I used to. I think the confusion has been replaced by curiosity.

Though, I don't know if any of this is really maturity. Maybe just a beginning stage of maturity?
 

David

Jedi Master
T.C. said:
How do other forum members feel about their 'level of maturity'?

‘Disappointed’

Then again ‘disappointed’ could be ‘satisfied,’ for someone else... or just ‘appalling’... It might well depend on the specific situation, and how much responsibility, or blame one takes for some manifestation of non-being or being in daily life... Hmmm.

It might be better said, as being a measure of external consideration that’s applied in ones daily life.

Tomorrow who knows... step up, or step down.
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
I think becoming mature is an organic process. Sometimes I feel people set impossible milestones and that no matter what, you are never good enough, or are never good enough in any moment. For example, no one or very few would say they are 'ok regarding their development' at their present stage in life. They may be able to provide for themselves, their family, may offer guidance to others etc, but still, there will be something about them they aren't satisfied with. I just find this a curious thing, for example Redfox saying he isn't mature...

I don't know why we do this. On the one hand its like if you reach a level of acceptance of who you are at any particular stage, as not being less or more than but rather it just being what it is, then it can be that maybe you don't have the impetus to struggle. Without struggle, their can be no real development osit. On the other hand, always finding things in you that aren't right and always pushing for a better me tomorrow will mean that I never accept the me of today.

You know, looking at my own life, for sure had a bunch of stuff instilled when I was young, as does everyone. The worst I didn't suffer and I consider the worst to be witnessing death or suffering sexual abuse so I cant speak for those who have experienced this. But now, I wouldn't look at my past and say it set me back, I would say it was normal given the environment. I am not the same person i was then when I was young. Over the years, you have had the things that are set for you, the things that you mostly end up judging yourself against. The milestones to adulthood. The going to school, studying hard, being independent, finding love, getting married etc... All these and more are set against a timeline.

Then there is what happens. What happens is not the same for everyone. Between these 2 things, I can say their is something in me that changes, becomes mature over time, it happens naturally.

What I'm trying to say is, I think people have a habit of setting impossible standards and that for the most part about 99% of life is a natural process. Even though I don't think hitting 'adulthood' as defined as being over 18yrs old means you are mature, I think maturity is another mostly natural process. Life forces you to mature over time, whether you want to or not. The pace is not the same for everyone and I don't think maturity looks the same on everyone i.e. You can have 2 mature people who behave very differently from each other plus i don't necessarily think being mature means being benevolent. I'm no expert but that's mostly what I think.

I think framing things as child mode/adult mode on the dark side of it is another manifestation of people setting standards that by definition the majority can never achieve, for sure there will always be the few that satisfy the definitions. I'm just saying this because some of the people here who are describing themselves as not mature to my eyes are quite mature... By no means are they perfect but nonetheless, you don't have to be perfect to be mature. Plus I think part of the process of being mature is sinking into the present, into who you are right now, and moving forward in life based on that and accepting who you really are may not be able to satisfy the criteria of some theoretical construct of who you want to be. Theory and what is real or what can be are hardly always the same.

Maybe I'm missing the point of the original point?
 

Mal7

Dagobah Resident
RedFox said:
Six Aspects of Being an Adult
There are six major aspects of the adult approach to life: {Many of these themes as discussed in Dąbrowski's work}

1. Rationality: [. . .]
2. Formulating and Implementing Goals: [. . .]
3. Equality in Relationships: [. . .]
4. Active versus Passive: [. . .]
5. Non-defensiveness and Openness: [. . .]
6. Personal Power: [. . .]

I find this a bit confusing. Many adults haven't acquired the "adult" attributes of these six aspects. If all these imperfect adults are deemed to be not really adults, but just 35, 45, or 55 year old children, it seems to make the conceptual distinction of adult and child confusing.

"4. Active versus Passive: Adults are proactive and self-assertive, rather than passive and dependent." Many adults may be passive and dependent, but when they are, I think they could be passive and dependent in a different way and for different causes than in the passive and dependent state of a child. By saying these "passive and dependent" adults are still at the child stage of psychological development, I think it ignores the different and developing psychology children have.

I wonder if it would be easier just to say anyone in their twenties is a young adult, and anyone in their thirties or over is an adult.. . And then analyze any child-like traits in these adults, not as being actually "child" traits, but as being in some respects "child-like" or "with similarities to states found in child psychology".
 

luke wilson

The Living Force
You know, I think in psychology, there is to much blaming the 'child'. Everything goes back to the child. Maybe more than is warranted. I'm not seeking to say modern psychology is incorrect but it just seems that the child gets blamed for anything the adult cant do or is finding hard to cope with in the present. So much so that it is said you aren't an adult until you stop being a child. This theoretical framework sets up the child as something to be overcome, something holding you back, the eternal enemy of the 'adult'.

To me, the thing that is amazing about this is that the child is set in the distant past, almost pre-memory. By definition the adult is left to deal with something that may or may not have been as he cant remember or in hindsight he can project his current ills by looking back in the past to the first time he displayed said behavior. We can then build a theory from there in the hope that it'll transform him in the present. In a similar way, another way we lead our lives is setting things up in the future. This construct up ahead in time which by definition we'll never get to, we only know by thought. In between these 2 is the person in the present, the thing that actually is and exists right now.

Surely there are better psychological frameworks that can help the individual where the pivot point is now rather than the past or the future. Did my past influence my present? No doubt! I was born into an environment that I had to adapt to and survive and yes, through the course of your life, your environment changes and what us required to adapt and survive changes but your ability to physiologically adapt decreases drastically and to my eyes, this right here is one of the major reasons why people get stuck in 'child mode'. What they are calling child mode is someone whose current situation is so different to that which the child adapted to and because there brain isn't as malleable now, there rate of adaptation is drastically slower. In the meantime whilst their brain gets into gear, life happens, they make decisions and face consequences.

What about the future influencing my past? For sure, all those things I want to be play a big role in moulding my behavior today.

What in God's blue earth does the present influence?

Tell you what, I'm exhausted of looking back or looking into constructs up ahead, for a minute I'll just reside in the now and take a breather... :cool2:

Its funny how despite the advancement of modern psychology, the world is filled up of people not ok with themselves but constantly on the move trying to get ok with themselves. Its all so very curious. I'm not entirely sure what's going on but for sure something stinks to high heaven. All these advancement in technology has brought us techno wonders like the plane, mobile phone, internet etc, they can cure many diseases now, study the cell... Yet, people are truly psychologically disturbed!

Added: Apologies for the typos and misspellings, I'm writing from my phone using the touch screen with humongous fingers and an over active auto correct feature to contend with!! Also got carried away towards the end, had a lot of momentum at the beginning but lost steam fast or maybe I just lost traction and came off the road. :D
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
[quote author=Mal7]

I find this a bit confusing. Many adults haven't acquired the "adult" attributes of these six aspects. If all these imperfect adults are deemed to be not really adults, but just 35, 45, or 55 year old children, it seems to make the conceptual distinction of adult and child confusing.
[/quote]

If we use physical age to distinguish between child and adult, as we usually do, then there is a clear distinction. If we try to use psychological development as the index, as is being done here in this discussion, then the criteria that define an adult are different. A 55 year old person could be at a relatively low level of psychological development. Whether using the term "child" to describe him is useful or proper is mostly a matter of semantics. It could sound offensive to some. Dabrowski used the term "primary integration", a term perhaps less likely to cause offense - but the implications are essentially similar to the author quoted by Redfox.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Mal7 said:
RedFox said:
Six Aspects of Being an Adult
There are six major aspects of the adult approach to life: {Many of these themes as discussed in Dąbrowski's work}

1. Rationality: [. . .]
2. Formulating and Implementing Goals: [. . .]
3. Equality in Relationships: [. . .]
4. Active versus Passive: [. . .]
5. Non-defensiveness and Openness: [. . .]
6. Personal Power: [. . .]

I find this a bit confusing. Many adults haven't acquired the "adult" attributes of these six aspects. If all these imperfect adults are deemed to be not really adults, but just 35, 45, or 55 year old children, it seems to make the conceptual distinction of adult and child confusing.

Like obyvatel just wrote, I don't see anything wrong with seeing these in terms of 'psychological adulthood'. Some 50-year-olds are not very 'adult'. As long as we're aware of how we're using the word, I don't see any need for confusion.

That said, it's still a complex topic. For example, numbers 2 and 4 can probably apply to a psychopath who never really develops - just grows older and is better able to adapt to external circumstances.

Like most human qualities, I think there's probably good immaturity, bad immaturity, good maturity, and bad maturity. For example, many 'adults' have closed minds; children's minds are more open. So I'd call a person who retains their open mind 'positively immature' in that regard. Same with qualities like enthusiasm, sensitivity, creativity and plasticity, sincerity.

My goal: to retain the best aspects of a 'child' while also acquiring the best aspects of an 'adult'.
 
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