A client pointed out to me an interesting perspective while using the Choosing Continuum. He said, "It seems to me, that if you're living your life on the 0-5 side of the Choosing Continuum, then you're essentially declaring that you don't want to be an adult in the true sense of what it means to be an adult. Not until you shift towards the 6-10 side--where you take full responsibility for the choices in your life--and even more importantly, the consequences for those choices do you become a full adult."
We began to dialogue on this idea when he stated, "Yikes, kind of scary isn't it--how few adults there really are in this country!" "Heck, I can see through this counseling process that I've been guilty of saying everyone else should be acting like an adult--except me! I keep blaming others for making me mad, disappointing me, not living up to their side of a commitment and using this as an excuse why I don't have to do it either! Why are we so afraid to be adults?
I responded that "I think a lot of it has to do with the issue of consequences. We're great at making choices--but should those choices result in some uncomfortable consequences--few of us have strong enough Feeling/Thinking edges--SELF to stand up and say, "I own those consequences and I can see that I'm going to accept discomfort in my life is I take responsibility for them." When this happens, we reject adulthood and slip back into the culturally reinforced, 0-5 reactive, victim, child role. And while that might get us through this event, what we also do is lengthen our childhoods into our 30-, 40, and 50's!
Daniel Quinn's new book, Tales of Adam is a series of short story/fables. In the last story of the book, he is talking about the Wisdom of Life which each generation passes on to the next. In it he shares that there is a day in each of our lives when we are no longer children and must now be adults. When a child, we can break our spear, or throw a temper tantrum and the adults around us will tolerate it, help us fix our spear etc. But when we become adults, we can break our spear or throw a temper tantrum, but we will have to deal with the consequences. If we break our spear and can't hunt--we will go hungry tonight whereas the day before, the group would've provided. It is in this learning, we become adults--a necessary step if we are to become "wise". Consequences force us into becoming a person with Integrity.
Integrity is the mark of an adult--because it means we will accept the consequences of our actions. When you are known as a person with Integrity, others know you can be counted on but it is because they have seen you accept responsibility for all your actions--not just the ones that work out!
Today, in the midst of so many crisis, we need the Wisdom of Adults with Integrity to help us show our children that childhood can't last forever! Now, more than ever, it is time to choose--6-10, whole Life Puzzle making. Stop right now and ask yourself--if you died tomorrow, did you achieve adulthood--or refuse it? Because it is a choice in our culture. You can stay a child forever--but we need adults!