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Nov 11

Toward Becoming A More Complete Adult

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By any measure adulthood is a challenging, demanding and difficult position compared to being a child. As children and teens we are provided for and taken care of in many different ways. We are fed, bathed and clothed; taught, guided and led; constrained, boundered and hopefully civilized. While we may resent the domination and control, we need the guidance to be able to function. Even ifour family was less than ideal, that we are still here speaks to our basic needs being met. From that “safe” nest, there comes a time when we are tilfust out into the world to manage on our own. In that huge leap of faith and fate our adulthood begins, for better and for worse.

A psychologist’s role resembles a parent’s in many ways. While we don’t feed and clothe, we do guide, teach and lead. We influence people to walk on a healthier path. We try to move those who visit to take a more selective and self-protective position across a wide range of territories. Beyond trying to heal emotional wounds and reduce or eliminate symptoms such as anxiety or depression, we coach people toward more fulfilling journeys and safer harbors.

It is from that precise vantage point that ] offer you some guidelines for living at whatever age you happen to be. I wish someone had shared this advice with me as embarked upon my adult voyage. I believe could have avoided some severe stonns and steered my ship in more comfortable and safer directions. In fact, in some areas I am still striving to achieve the very ideals o f which I write. Completing adulthood, my term for a healthy, balanced and self-protective posture, is not a position we ever completely reach. It is a goal toward which we keep reaching. Picture walking a very long, seemingly endless, balance beam. That is the walk of life which demands our constant focus and adjustment. No matter what, we can’t allow ourselves to falloff. Yet, the reality is that many do, thereby causing damage to themselves and their loved ones. My hope and encouragement is that you avoid that wipeout position.

A healthy adult is an excellent self-manager whose life is guided by balance, moderation and reasonable self-control. Sad to say, but such people are in the minority in todays world. Most silently suffer the ill effects of being out of balance in at least one area of life. We eat, drink or drug too much. We smoke, gamble or work inappropriately. We become addicted to some unhealthy and expensive sexual outlet. We overdo the internet, shopping or other indulgence. Whatever the zone, it rules us, instead of the other way around.

The reasons for these gaps in our behavior are numerous. Let me briefly outline them:

  • Outdated, but powerful influences from our child. teens parts
  • Stresses and strains from our day to day life
  • Loneliness or being in an unhealthy relationship
  • Being in a boring, unfulfilling, frustrating job
  • Having a “live for today” philosophy molded from personal experiences or the

    state of the world

  • Wrestling with the self~defeating part of our nature
  • Having an addictive propensity that attaches onto some hurtful behavior
  • Hiding in a denial bubble to avoid confronting the potential consequences

    All ofthe above!

    As previously mentioned, I have come to refer to any hurtful behavior, thought or feeling as Glop. It is a helpful word because it discourages people from pursuing their favorite form. After all. how many of us truly want to be associated with any form of glop? To our healthy adult parts, the word associates to yucky. distasteful. unbecoming, and prideless encounters. The intent of this chapter is to help you consider stopping or limiting your glopping. Achieving that is an important part of becoming a more complete adult.

    Depending upon your measure, an adult is someone eighteen years or older. Such a person is no longer a juvenile in the eyes of the law. They are able to live independent of adult supervision and if they so chose, manage their own affairs. They can vote. The only exception to their adult status is that in most places, they are not allowed to serve or be served alcohol. They can, ironically enough, serve in the military. They can give their life for America, but they can’t legally have a beer before they die!

    Age, however, is a limited way to view adulthood. Some people I’ve met qualify at fifteen, while others still don’t at fifty plus. Most don’t qualify by eighteen. I certainly didn’t. Though reasonably mature by eighteen, I was woefully naIve. Life was pretty sheltering in the Bronx in the fifties. It was BI (before, way before internet) and TV was far from a reality moment. It was a Howdy Doody, Uncle Milty kind of time. Life was simple, user friendly and not money driven. People, as I recall, were more giving, less status conscious and not so invested in work. Nine to five was a full day’s work, not a sign of laziness or disloyalty. Intriguingly, people were probably more balanced back then. Glop, except in food shops, was not as accessible or acceptable. And there weren’ t as many food shops. It was pre-fast food.

    1t was a much more sheltering time. Serious problems were discussed in hushed tones after kids went to sleep. I didn’t know Dad was losing his job till he had another one. Same with grandma’s failing health or a host of other important issues. How is a child expected to mature without awareness, grow without observing problem solving skills in action, learn without input, cope without stretching and strengthening developing emotional muscles?

Children and teens of today have the opposite problem. They are typicaIJy too immersed in the reality based trauma oflife in general and their families in particular. Their glopful choices and incomplete adulthood is often based in overload, whereas mine and my peers was based in no load at all. Somewhere between the two lies a more helpful, healthful balance.

Wrinkles in my otherwise balanced, stable and responsible adult, no doubt originate from the scenes I experienced and the ones that eluded me. Clearly these contributed to gaps in my self-confidence, heightened self-consciousness and self-doubt. Those produce hurtful voices that take us directly to glopful choices. In this sense, glop and our attachment to it in whatever form, is a salve for our inner wounds. Unfortunately, all it does is add to them in multiple ways. It is literally like rubbing sand into an open sore. Short tenn relief is followed by continued pain and suffering.

What Js A Complete Adult?
It is, first and foremost, an ideal toward which people are encouraged to aspire. It would be lovely if we could all stand in unison and say… I would like to become a more complete adu1L” Obviously we can’t so we won’t, but you certainly can.

The “more” in that mantra is critical. It implies that in many areas we are already in charge and quite complete. It also reinforces that completing adulthood is an ongoing process. We are never finished. We rarely reach it for any length of time. People keep struggling to hold onto their healthy choices and avoid the famous yaya syndrome. In addition, people need to shift as they age. What works at one point, may not at an older point. The irony of it all is that if we live long enough we can be forced to relinquish all self-control. Thus we need to complete adu1thood before we completely lose that opportunity .

Though not wanting it to sound like a girllboy scout list, here are the characteristics I associate with a more complete adult:

  • clear and credible communicator
  • organized, timely and goal oriented
  • reasonable balance between work and play, self and others
  • in charge ofall important demands based on unique life circumstances
  • realistic
  • kind, compassionate and honorable in all transactions
  • self-protective o f mind and body
  • striving toward authenticity

    Let us look more closely at each of these:

    Clear and Credible Communicator
    Communications are the cornerstone of life. Go into any relationship, or organization anywhere in the world and the number one cause of problems, stress, mistakes, fights, etc. are flies in the ointment of communications. Across all areas, the common denominator to many less than positive issues is communications. The more we can

convey information clearly and credibly, the more complete our adult package. As a clear communicator we are better able to navigate the slippery slopes of everyday life. In addition, the more complete adult communicator is more able to talk to themselves in a healthy voice of choice, which facilitates heing realistic and self-protective.

A recent incident summarizes the potential problems. Driving to my office the big orange sign said, “right lane closed ahead.” How nice to be given advance notice I thought, as we all carefully swung to our left. As we arrived at the critical place a tree service was busily removing limbs felled during Hurricane Wilma two months earlier. Unfortunately, it was the left lane that was blocked off. What began an early warning quickly became a mess. Communications guides your world and mine. Keep it clear. Knowyourleftfromyourright. Goslowlyforward.

Beyond being a clear and credible communicator, a more complete adult strives to become more tolerant of others in their communications with them. Incomplete adults believe they know it all. They do not respect other’s opinions and challenge, dispute or otherwise disrespect views contrary to their own. More complete adults are willing to consider contrarian opinions and recognize that everyone is entitled to their own views. While we don’t have to agree with them, we do need to respect their right to have them and in important relationships strive to find points of compromise. A more complete adult keeps a more open mind.

Reasonably Organized. Timely and Goal Oriented
Self-management demands we work as hard for ourself as we do for others. Too many adults have a hard time remembering appointments, showing up on time, paying bills before the due date, sending in rebate slips, balancing their checkbook, remembering other’s birthdays, etc. Complete adults are not perfect, but certainly stay on top of the important stuff. We are all entitled to miss something from time to time, but the larger picture needs our oversight. This is especially true in a world that no longer works very well and easily takes advantage ofour disorganization, sloppy practices and lateness.

Just ask the gal who forgot to pay her cell phone bill. They shut it off Friday night. Couldn’t get it on till Tuesday AM, due to a legal holiday and a provider snafu. Had to pay $25 late fee and a $50 reinstatement fee. Missed a call from her boyfriend in Afghanistan. A world not working so well took advantage of her not working so well. More complete adults do not leave themselves open to being hurt in any way.

Reasonable Balance Between Work and Play
As obvious as this encouragement may seem, most people are way out of balance in this area. A variety of forces conspire to make playa rarity. Work demands more from employees than ever before. Working 9-5 is a song, not a schedule in 2006 and beyond. People’s needs to earn money have never been greater as is our collective and individual greed. When money rules, work dominates and play recedes to a secondary position.

Funny enough, when I was in college in 1960 the sociologists were worried that by the year 2000 people would have too much leisure time and not enough outlets available to them. Now that you’ve stopped laughing I will explain. They believed the techno revolution would so alter our work demands that play would dominate our lives. That time and those needs would be limited by available activities. They began creating new avenues of leisure. Truth is we have more outlets than ever and less time (and disposable money) to enjoy them. Technology has come of age and there is more work than ever to be done. So much for predictions. When I worked for IBM in the late 60’s, the work day was 8:30am-4:30pm with an hour or more for lunch. Today’s 7am-7pm or later, while eating lunch at your desk seems more the rule, than the exception. Sure, ] stayed late 4-6 times per year for special projects, but that was the exception. Today, it seems to have become the standard.

A more complete adult slices a piece out of the proverbial pie chart for himlher self. We all need downtime to charge our batteries. We all need rewards for our labors. We all need something to look forward to and we need to have time to play with our loved ones as well. When we are kids play typically dominates. As adults, work takes most of our time and energy. A more complete adult works to play and to include that in their lives on an ongoing basis. The concept of completing adulthood is synonymous with balance in all important zones ofour lives.

This reminds me of Tom, the butcher. Worked six, twelve hour days without a break, year after year. His wife worked at his side. They finally sold the shop and retired to play. She died in less than a year from lung cancer. Playa little now. so it’s not just a little too late.

Reasonable Balance Between Self and Others
There are no prizes for martyrs, nor for those who are selfish. In fact, other than completing adulthood and feeling the pride of that trophy, most of us will live our lives without receiving any prizes whatsoever.

Most of the people I observe in or out of my office, give too much of themselves away. They are dedicated, almost to a fault. to work, family, friends and others. Sometimes even strangers count more than they do. They often suffer from low self-esteem and the “what other people think” syndrome. Part ofthe priority others are given lies in complex needs of being accepted, liked, appreciated and loved.. Let kindness and giving be ends unto themselves, whi le behaving that way toward yourself as well.

It is important for each of us to have self time. It doesn’t really matter what we do with that time. It matters that we have it and use it in some self-fulfilling way. Whether you watch a soap, write a romance novel, hit the gym, go to a game or lie on the beach is a matter of individual taste. What maners is that you have enjoyment. distraction and comfort.

In the hustle bustle oflife in the 2151 century it is not always an equitable time division. Even if eighty or more percent is other directed. (Le., work. family, friends. church. etc.),

some time greater than zero needs to be self-directed. Self time offers a large disproportionate payoff. Small things count a lot and even an hour or two can be a wonderful boost and battery charge.

Additionally, it is not only about time. It’s about choices as well. At least some of the time you get to choose the movie or what or where to eat. Similarly, your vote needs to count regarding family outings or vacations, allocation of monjes or investments, etc. Many people, especially women, subordinate themselves into passive, selfless roles that perpetuate child-like positions. More complete adults strive to have a voice and a choice in important matters, at least some of the time. This is especially important in a world that often denies us a sense of personal power and shoves us back into helplessness on a repetitive basis.

In Charge of All Demands
The more complete adult gets important things done. Slhe achieves important goals consistently. Beyond the basics of timeliness and organization, completing adulthood means living a life of growth and accomplishment. It also means avoiding the pitfalls that can easily derail us. Many falter, fan and fail along the way. The number of people with massive ($20-50 K plus) credit card debt is frighteningly high, as are the many who go bankrupt every year. Affairs topple marriages regularly, while alcohol and drugs destroy people’s lives on many levels. The same is true for other hurtful, glopful habits.

As our world has worked less and less well, too many of us seem to follow suit. The stress o f our lives can cause us to make a mess o f our lives which in turn adds even more stress. Vicious cycles of pain are made oftrus fonnula. A more complete adult doesn’t allow that to happen. In fact, a person striving to complete adulthood has learned that in a world that no longer works that well, s/he has to work better than ever. Our protection, prosperity and pleasure depend upon it.

If, as the fanner CEO of GE taught us, “the devil is in the details,” then we need to manage to them. Of course, his subsequent affair and costly and embarrassing divorce showed us once again, that we don’t always follow our own advice. It also demonstrates the power of glop to override the otherwise impeccable judgment and prudent decisions of men and women who are effective adults in all other areas. More complete adults make sure to cover all important territories, trying not to leave themselves exposed or vulnerable.

Thereisnodenyingthatglopofallkindsisbuiltintothefabricoflife. Weareallflawed and therefore vulnerable to glop. It’s been that way since Adam and Eve stood naked in the Garden of Eden. Completing adulthood is not about never having a piece of pizza or a glass of wine again. It is about erring on the side of caution. It is about not putting ourselves in the “deer in the headlights” position. It is about moderation, self-protection and self-imposed limits. It is about not glopping oneself into haunting headlines, operating rooms, courtrooms, and other pain filled places. As someone recently said, “boring is OK.” It is a lot better, actually than the thrill and excitement of being burned at the stake.

The difference between a complete and incomplete adult, is that the former strives toward strengthening their position, while the latter stays stuck in addictive spaces. The healthy adult keeps setting healthier goals-sometimes over and over again. ]t took me the better part of three years to stop smoking cigarettes and inhaling a pipe. I failed to achieve my goal serially. I put myself in some pretty ridiculous positions along the way. But, I stayed with it and finally achieved my goal. That is what completing adulthood is all about.

Be Realistic
“Fantasies are undeniably free,” I always say. Then as an afterthought I add, “as long as they stay fantasies.” For some people the line between reality and fantasy is blurry. It is in these cases where fantasies can become costly. Here are some examples:

  • A few years ago a woman believed she could take advantage of a lull in the stock market. Stocks that sold in the hundreds of dollars were now at fifty dollars or less. Convinced that they have to go up, at least a little, she sank all of her money into options that would yield large profits i f the stocks went up even a few points. Her fantasy collapsed when the stocks dropped from fifty to five. She’s dead broke, depressed and in shock. ]t looked so good on paper. So did the Edsel!
  • A man bas always dreamed of opening a seafood restaurant. He invested all his own money and borrowed from friends and family as well. He spent six months searching for the right purveyor and the best decor money could buy. He opened his dream come true restaurant with great fan fare and notoriety in a highly trafficked touristy area in Manhattan, NY on Saturday September 8, 2001. The rest, ofcourse. is history, as is all his money and his dream.

    • A married woman meets her fantasy spouse Don Juan. Unfortunately, he is in jail for life and she is Director of an innovative inmate program. She helps him escape in the back of her truck. She is failing complete adulthood and likely to be caught any day. Her fantasy corne true is likely to be her worst nightmare. AJready her family has been hurt beyond words or explanation. This is a true,

    recent tale ofwoe.

• Joe sees the rea] estate market yielding much reward. He mortgagees himself to

the max buying two, then two more condo properties. He was so that convinced that pre-construction prices would allow for a sizeable profit that he fai led to take into account a bursting bubble combined with a devastating Hurricane. He can’t flip the properties, nor can be close them. His fantasy of making half a million, morphs into losing all his money.

There are many other stories, but these should suffice. Surely you know some too. There are also some happily ever after fantasies come true, but those are in the minority. Think of all the dot corns that went bust. Then think eBay or Google. It is one thing to follow your dream and another to bet the fann in a crapshoot. More complete adults are cautious and remain realistic. They go slow, accept the unpredictability of any world, let alone one that doesn’t work all that well. They experiment, reevaluate and update

decisions accordingly. They play devils’ advocate and protect against an unexpected but possible sea change. A healthy adult doesn’ t risk it all, takes tolerable chances and leaves himlher self a back door. Years ago, my supervisor in post graduate school, who was from India, used to say, ”to be shat upon one must be laying down.” A person striving toward complete adulthood strives to stay on his/her feet.

Be Kind. Comoassionate and Honorable
The dog eat dog world that has evolved over the last quarter century seems to promote the opposite of this characteristic. In an end justifies the means way, the rules of engagement have changed from previous times. How you play the game seems less important than winning at any costs. Characteristics like integrity, honesty, loyalty and the like have given way to a big bucks mentality. Greed has replaced creed, sad to say.

A more complete adult stays within traditional principles. Such a person plays fair, cares about others and can be trusted. Their words and deeds correlate. They are substantive people whose values go beyond self·interest. They capitalize on their talent and good name which builds good will. Their pride comes not so much from what they got, but from who they are. Their self is worth more than their stuff.

A more complete adult gives back to their families, colleagues and communities. They do so genuinely and without need for self-aggrandizement. It is not about their egos; it is about their dedication to worthy causes. Such people restore our faith in the basic goodness of people. They provide a delightfully refreshing counterbalance to an impersonal, self-serving, dishonorable world that no longer works all that well. Think Bill, Melinda and Bono bere-Times Magazines, Persons OfThe Year, 2005.

Unfortunately, a world that doesn’t work all that well doesn’t bring out our best qualities. It is easy to rationalize being dishonorable and self-serving when everyone around us seems of similar persuasion. Wounded warriors tend to fight back. Important for completing adulthood is to fight off the temptation to join the wolf pack of those who care onJy about themselves. ]n the long run, fair, play-not foul-yields fair returns, as well as the undeniable pride ofknowing one has lived a principled life. Sleazy is not a term a more complete adult would want associated with one’s name. Kind, compassionate and honorable are certainly words that we want to trail our deeds and our name. The Google corporate mantra, “DON’T BE EV]L,” comes to mind as one a more complete adult can embrace with commitment Make nice, feel nice!

Be Self-Protective
Perhaps this is just a summary idea of all that came before. Perhaps it is merely a strong reminder to check the glop at the door. Or perhaps it is really what being a more complete adult is all about. After all, completing adulthood demands, first and foremost, that we are true to ourselves by protecting ourselves. Survival of the tittest requires that we be fit-at least enough to survive.

Self-protection takes many fOnTIs. In all examples given, self-protection was absent. Key is our ability to draw upon our adult voice of choice to counter our child voice of choosing excessive amounts of glop. In a world where cookies call our name, carrot sticks or the equivalent need to win, most of the time. As someone recently said, “‘]’11 give my “kid” a cookie once in a while, but 1’1I nurture my adult with a salad most of the time.”

There is a direct correlation between, protecting our minds and our bodies in both directions. Let one side down and the other falls with it. Mind and body are interconnected parts. Gain weight, lose money, do drugs and your mind will feel the pain along with your body and your bank account. In the scheme of things, all systems are linked. Tweak the body and the mind reacts and vice versa.

More complete adults avoid tweaks that foster out of control, self-defeating experiences. Such folk are vigilant and ever alert for dangers that can derail them. Remember, from the perspective of a person striving toward becoming a more complete adult, stability, predictability and responsibility rule. So does balance. The more complete adult is like a graceful, competitive ice skater who neither slips nor falls, but glides comfortably along, in time to the music.

Striving Toward Authenticity
Early in our lives we learn to fool others and ourselves in various ways. We adopt outer images and attitudes that are often counter to inner fears and insecurities. Sometimes these stay the same for life, while other times people change as later life experiences and shifting inner forces come along. Those who fool themselves or others can be described as inauthentic. They are living a faux life, pretending rather than being real.

Although all of us are probably guilty of an occasional exaggeration, distortion or putting one over, I am referring to more extreme cases. Here are some examples:

• An otherwise decent man always has a need to project a tough, rough, angry, dominating image. He can be rude and crude to his loved ones, work associates or even friends. His MO is to embarrass or put others down to elevate himself and compensate for deep seated insecurities. Fwmy enough, he does have a kind and caring heart, buried deeply below layers of his acquired hostility.

A lady must always project an image of wealth. From her clothes to her comments she let’s anyone who will listen know just how rich she is and how much she spends on this or that. Many find her annoying, but she has an engaging wit and good sense of humor which keep some coming back despite her “money, money, money” state of mind. Truth is she grew up in a very poor, single morn family and learned early on to create images of being middle class. Even today she is not really rich and many of her designer fashions are faux. Her obsession about money is a blotch on her otherwise channing personality.

• Mr. and Mrs. Hard Body are in a new perfect shape with a matching bronze tan. They look like they just stepped out of a magazine ad. Their public image is very positive and they spend many, many hours each week sustaining it. The inside scoop hardly matches, which is a clear sign of inauthentic living. He drinks too much while she dabbles with coke. They are near bankruptcy due to excessive spending – much of it related to keeping up with their image. Sadly, despite their “perfect couple” appearance, they fight constantly. Both have had affairs in the last year. All of this has taken its toll with anxiety and depression starting to break through.

Although these are extreme example, more subtle variations exist as well. He appears to be a caring, dedicated Dentist, but it’s mostly the caching of the cash register that matters at the end of the day. She appears to be a caring person, but mostly she cares about getting her needs met and will manipulate for that to happen. His jovial, downright silly at times, nature belies his depression. Her dominating and even mean-spirited handling of the employees she supervises, stands upon a foundation of well hidden and submerged feeling ofinadequacy.

In all instances we have external contortions based upon internal distortions. In the language of Washington, DC it’s all a cover-up that blocks one’s ability to live true to oneself. Note that inauthenticity is not the same as denial. The latter is a defense mechanism that blocks us from seeing reality clearly. People who glop excessively sustain those hurtful behaviors by denying the hurtful consequences. The inauthentic self results from flaws in our character created by issues of self-image and self-esteem. They typically begin in adolescence as we begin to wrestle with identity issues. They prevent people from displaying themselves accurately.

At fourteen, I pretended to be a Sal Mineoesque tough guy “rock”, to hide my fears and insecurities. I had the look down right with motorcycle jacket, boots, and hairdo, but was hardly a tough guy, truth be known. By sixteen I switched to an “Ivy League” look in my search to be cool and seen as “in.” In my twenties, I was Dr Attache case, “business executive”, in my thirties, I took on the look of a Hippie shrink with long hair, high-heels clogs and several guru suits complete with matching necklesses. I’ve got the picture to prove it! In my forties, an air of self-importance, flashy cars and a boat flushed out my “success” image. By my late forties I made peace with the wounded parts of me and have been able to shed all exaggerated images. It’s been fun just being myself. I’ve felt much more relaxed and accepting of me. I have nothing to prove. What others think of me is of little consequence. Finally, I like me and feel proud of me. Self-love is the basis for developing an authentic self. Inside and outside match. We are who we are. We are comfortable being ourselves. We don’t have to impress, control, manipulate, demand, dominate or fool anyone. We are in touch with our strengths and weaknesses and live peacefully with them, while working on the latter. We feel whole and adequate. We are one within ourself.

If the key to authenticity is self-acceptance and self-love, the questions becomes how to achieve that state? There is no simple answer. Clearly, the wounded, frightened, angry,

insecure child within must heal. Glopful behaviors in the present need to be limited. With glop comes shame and blame, which are the opposite of self-acceptance. Without glop, pride bank deposits multiply which in turn feed self-like and self-love. Hurtful relationships need to be worked on or eliminated. The wounds that come from hurtful relationships reactivate child based injuries. Self-doubts preclude self-acceptance as emotional cess flows in all directions.

In a way. authenticity can be embraced when all of the other criteria ofa more complete adult are reached. A person in ba1ance in all important zones is best positioned to accept and be oneself. Even those extreme examples previously cited can make modifications toward greater inner/outer correlation. They need only confront and eliminate the illusions with which they live. They need to fmd a way not to need their distorted images, so they can project themselves in less narcissistic terms. The self indulgence of narcissism does not make for completing adulthood. ]0 fact, it makes for perpetuating childlteen based selfishness of all kinds.

In some ways authenticity may be the most difficult part of completing adulthood. The roles, attitudes and distortions that we project can become as addictive as a drug. Prying them lose from our identity takes work, courage, experimentation and self-observation. Fortunately these are a1J characteristics that exist in abundance in people striving toward becoming a more complete adult.

How’s Your MeA IO?
It can be helpfuJ if you assess where you are at in each of the above areas. Are you moving in the direction of completing adulthood, are you a train wreck in progress or are you somewhere in between? Are you pretty much in charge and on top of your game or are you losing ground on a regular basis? Important to know is if you aspire to completing adulthood. Let us recall that it is your choice. Do not mistake my strong words of encouragement with commands or demands. Ultimately, we all get to chose our path and the goals we set for ourselves. We can even chose not to set any goals and just go with the flow. A more complete adult knows better than to force others to do anything, even if it is for their own good.

If what has been described as striving to become a more complete adults package has appeal to you, then Step One is to observe your self in action. Identify where you are on each of these qualities. Identify any that might need some work. Look for other characteristics that are important to you. For example. no general discussion of spiritual values and practices was offered, despite those being very relevant. It is a matter for each person’s individual preferences and beliefs. The value of faith and prayer is well documented, so it certainly enhances the more complete adult package for those so inclined. The characteristics I have included in defining a more complete adult are the basics and subject to debate. Feel free to add any particularly relevant to yourself.

I f your accurate self-observation shows you to be strong across the more complete adult characteristics, feel proud and stay in that hea1thy and enhancing lane. Remember, you can be derailed at any time, so stay vigilant and focused. If there is an area or areas that

need work, decide if you want to address it now, some other time or never. If now get busy. If then, set a target to revisit this territory. Write it on your calendar or enter it onto your PDS. If your answer is, “never,” never say never. One never knows! “Unlikely,” is a better response. It leaves the door open just a crack. One never knows when a wake-up call might come along and push you into healthier, more complete adult self-management. A more complete adult tries to leave a little wiggle room to change hislher mind.

Important that you assess the cost to you of incomplete areas. It is possible they are small, relative to all the good sluff in your life. The goals of a more complete adult are to protect oneself from a world that doesn’t work all that well, to prosper and enjoy the fruits of your labor and to be able to experience pleasure in many ways and on many levels. If al1 of that is happening on a reliable basis, keep enjoying. ]f hurtful habits or other miscues interfere with those occurring, then perhaps some cbanges and growth need to occur-eventually.

Seeking Out Support
Significant behavioral, cognitive or emotional changes are not easily made. Parts of us want to stay stuck. Glop does not let go without a fight. Habits and addictions remain in place despite their costly consequences. Often it takes commitment and support to move forward and fill in the gaps in your adult self.

Supports of all kinds are in abundant supply. From the internet to telephone coaches to face to face counselors, help is all around. Books, tapes, workshops, free support groups all help strengthen your commitment and provide useful and practical suggestions. In many groups the subtle benefit is in knowing others are struggling too. Seeing that you’re “not the only one,” is very helpful. Seeing that others have overcome is even more helpful. On many levels perhaps one of the understated characteristics of a more complete adult is in knowing and accepting that no man or woman is an island. In our quest to become a more complete adult there are times we can benefit from other’s influence, help and encouragement. We can learn from others who have wrestled with and resolved similar issues. The more ways we engage in the pursuit of a goal, the more motivated we become to achieve it. The more we draw upon support nets, the more likely we are to sustain the changes we finaUy achieve.

On the Nature of Adulthood Complete or Otherwise
Let’s face realities. Adulthood, however, complete we are or become is not easy. It wasn’t easy in 1906 and isn’t easy in 2006. In all likelihood it will become harder as time goes by. All we can do is try our best to do our best in everything we do. All we can do is accept the limitations life has imposed and work around them. All we can do is forgive ourself for foolish choices, hurtful decisions and poor planning. All we can do is learn from those experiences, going forward with that wisdom in tow. All we can do is all we can do to become a more complete adult and enjoy all the benefits that go with it. Or we can go with the flow, enjoy the ride and see what happens. The choice is undeniably yours. In either case I wish you well.

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