I had an awesome experience recently! The details don’t really matter, it is my reaction to it that I want to share! Let me explain . . .
In each of us there are multiple levels of maturity. Let’s say I am criticized about something. My adult side is able to understand that I am not perfect, I can and will make mistakes, and I need to be continually working to improve myself. My mature adult brain can also rationalize that whatever criticism came my way may have little or nothing to do with me. It understands that people will always have different opinions, beliefs, and ideas about what is going on in the world and just because mine don’t match theirs, doesn’t mean I am wrong necessarily.
The childlike part of me may see the criticism as a personal attack on my character and be writhing in emotional pain and agony over it as it mirrors similar incidents from my childhood. That immature side of me might behave like a 6 year old – shouting hateful insults, name calling, stomping away, pouting, triangling, crying inconsolably, refusal to speak to or look at the other person, etc. These are the only methods a child might have at their disposal to deal with their pain!
The question is this: How can I get in touch with AND HOLD ONTO the mature adult side of me at all times?
Even when our adult brain knows the mature way to respond, sometimes we can’t seem to stop the childlike reaction that comes screaming from deep down inside of us. And while I can’t stop my internal reaction, I CAN control my actions. My esteemed colleague, Jerry Wise, puts it like this . . . Do you want to be an adult, or a child?
I want to be an adult! I want to grab onto my adult with both hands and not let go!
Sometimes I feel I only have a two-finger pinch on the fabric of my rational adult reaction and I know how fragile my grip is! This is not a good time to make decisions, confront whoever triggered my reaction, fire off an e-mail, quit my job, change my relationship status on Facebook, or whatever. When I have only a two-finger hold, I need to sit still and figure out what my 2 year old emotional self needs! In my case, it’s probably affirmation and security – ‘you’re going to be okay’, ‘you’re not a bad person’, etc. Then I need to tell myself those things! Maybe I need to reach out to someone that knows me well and has a good solid grip on their adult side and ask them to remind me of the things my inner child needs to hear. Either way, I need to give myself what I need, because as the last thread of adult rational thought slips from my fingers – there also goes my dignity.
A good, mature adult would be calm, rational, respectful, take time to process things, be in touch with and give themselves what they need. They would understand that other people have their own pain and struggles, too. A mature adult would not tak
e things personally. They would be in touch with who they are and what they stand for and be able to withstand the lashings of this world when they don’t align. And that is when we become truly powerful!!
A mature adult would hold their head up high and stay focused on being the best person they can be!