Becoming an adult.
The freedoms are kind of awesome. But the responsibilities are the ones that make all the “no adulting” memes so popular.
How do you know when you turn that corner into becoming an adult on an emotional level?
We all know people who we think “should be an adult by now” because of age or life events, but they still struggle to handle things in a mature way. I don’t mean that you have to be responsible and mature all the time.
Being an adult is about knowing when and how to handle your responsibilities.
The truth of the matter is human beings are inherently flawed, that is part of the design. And, we are all human beings raised by human beings. To take it further, we live in an imperfect world.
That means you are going to have experiences that hurt you, where you are scarred, where you develop survival strategies so you can protect your psyche, your heart, manage pain and survive physically and emotionally. That is how it goes.
Even though human beings are flawed and human being are parents, those parents are trying their best EVERY day.
I don’t know a single parent who woke up in the morning thinking: “I’m gonna do damage to my kid today”.
Parents are dealing with so many things including their own programming, cultural norms and generational beliefs, life circumstances, ect and they are doing the best with what they have.
When you are a dependent of your parents, then you pretty much have to go with the program. You have to survive according to the rules and circumstances in your family. And that can have the full range of loving moments that build healthy resilience all the way to abuse and neglect.
When do you first have the opportunity to develop into an adult emotionally?
Developmentally, once you are able to be independent of your parents, meaning you come to an age where you can literally survive on your own, that is the first opportunity to make the emotional shifts toward being an adult.
Once you enter that space in your life, that means you start to be accountable for your stuff.
That includes vocational, social, financial, physical, emotional and psychological stuff. Regardless of your history or the cards you were dealt in early life. We are assuming here that you are a normally functioning adult who is not dealing with severe mental or physical disabilities.
That means there is no blaming.
That doesn’t mean you don’t get to be angry, frustrated, sad, hurt, disappointed about what happened in your past. Not at all. You get to have all your feelings about it. In fact, it is best if you do.
The shift toward being an adult is whose responsibility it is to deal with the repercussions of what happened and how that is going to influence your life.
I’m not saying this because you need to man up or not be a baby.
I’m saying this because it is a disempowering position to blame someone or something else.
When you shift the blame away or chose to minimize, ignore or stay unconscious, you don’t hold power or choice.
And, as an adult, you have power and choice in a way that you did not have a child or as a dependent. As soon as you are accountable and you take responsibility for the “cards” you have been dealt, you are at the helm. It is just a way better position for you.
So, how do you become an adult emotionally?
The first step, once you are capable of independence, is to see what happened that is influencing your life.
That means, you start to become aware of how you handle fear, anger, stress. How do you solve problems and communicate in your relationships? Start to look at the places where you are challenged and realize why. What in your past might be influencing how you handle things?
The next step is to ask yourself: Is this the way I want to handle things? Is this working for me?
You get to choose. If it is not working for you, start to look at ways other people handle things that might work better for you. Read books. Surround yourself with people who seem to have that emotional maturity of knowing when and how to handle things. Go see a therapist to help you see the influences of your past. A therapist can help you improve on what you were taught or heal some of the scars.
This is a life long process. You will not be able to see everything all at once.
If you get the basics down of how to be self aware, how to deal with your feelings and how to communicate, you are on it. You have some basic adulting skills that will put you ahead of the curve.