Monday, September 20, 2010

Adult vs. Grown-up

Over the course of our life time, people age from baby to (hopefully) senior citizen.  However, I've noticed (and I'm sure you have) not everyone will manage to grow-up - if we define growing-up as becoming fully mature.

According to Neufeld, there are three drives to maturity.  These are internal drives that exist in each human being, and they develop naturally unless they are squashed. In order to mature each of us needs to achieve:

Adaptation.  This is when we let life change us.  It is the origins of the Serenity Prayer.  Basically we fully feel our frustration and sadness when life doesn't go the way we want.  Integral to adaptation are tears of sadness.  Researchers dehydrated different types of tears (I'm guessing something like sad, mad, happy, scared) and found that the toxins in tears of sadness are potent enough to kill a small rodent. We need, emotionally and physically, to get the frustration and sadness out of our system so we can move on.  The magic of really absorbing the futility of the moment is what comes next - new ideas and/or the knowledge that we can live through hard times and survive.  Neufeld calls these fruits resourcefulness and resilience.

Integration.  This is mixed feelings.  We are integrated when we can hold two feelings at the same time. As in, I'm mad that you dropped my iPhone in the toilet and I can feel my love for you at the same time.  Or I feel mad about how messed up the institution of adoption is and sad about the fact that a mama is going say goodbye to her baby and I'm so looking forward to being mama to another child. Mixed feelings lead to the virtues in life because they balance our negative moments with our caring parts.     
From Neufeld:
self-control = caring about our impact + impulses to react
patience = caring feelings + frustration
courage = caring about what we treasure + fear
consideration = caring for another + concern for self
forgiveness = caring feelings + impulses to get even
We are also integrated when we can see our friend's point of view and still hold onto our opinion. One of my favorite clues that someone isn't integrated is the 180 degree turn.  Friend hates the Beatles music until I mention how I grew up on their music and know the words to most of the songs by heart.  Then suddenly Friend has always been a fan of their songs.

Emergence.  Neufeld defines emergence as venturing forth, vitality and viability.  I'm still chewing on what this really means to me.  His examples have to do with children playing happily on their own and creating from their own minds.  Or as we grow, finding our own creativity, opinions and ideas. Neufeld says he thinks a relationship with ourselves is the highest point of emergence.  My take-away is that this is very complex and is the sort of thing we hope to begin to master before we die.  In order to be able to emerge, we need to be able to focus on ourselves and relax about our general safety in the world. For children, this means they need secure attachments with those who are responsible for us so they can be free from the concern of making those relationships work and can spend their energy figuring out who they are. Non-emergent people are our typical couch potato, I think, spending all their time watching TV, letting others' ideas flow in with no interests or hobbies of their own.  I'm guessing I haven't absorbed the larger idea of emergence.  Perhaps I'll write more later as my understanding deepens.

I love looking at this material from two perspectives - where am I at in my development and growth and where my children are.  Understanding this about myself, my kids, and others in my world creates lots of space for true understanding with creative solutions to the challenges through out our day. 

1 comment:

PNW Mama said...

Thank you for sharing this. I agree that when I read it, I am assessing where my kids are and also where I am. And I am reassured to know that the many, many times that I struggle with mixed feelings is a sign that I am healthy.