Time to Grow Up

Time to grow up

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about growing up and the link to success and fulfillment.

First a quick update:

“Follow me on Twitter”
You can now choose to follow me and receive a few words of wisdom on Twitter: @Behavior_Expert

“Fairytale endings: do they really still exist?”
Read the quotes I gave to Samantha Brett, dating & relationship expert and author, in her article in the Sydney Morning Herald, click here to read.

“The royal wedding, fairytales and the princess myth”
The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton will draw an audience expected to be over 2.5 billion people, but as I reveal, the world has changed since Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s nuptials on July 29, 1981 – with a greater emphasis today on cynicism and a much more independent modern-day woman who has her own castle and expects the man to rescue her from a different kind of dragon from yesteryear. Click here to read more.

Now, let’s talk about growing up.

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and founder of the school of analytical psychology. He proposed and developed the concepts of the extroverted and introverted personality, archetypes, and the collective unconscious. His work has influenced psychology, religion and literature. Jung believed that we prevent ourselves from becoming autonomous, fulfilled and ultimately happy by our refusal to open ourselves to experiences that are new and unfamiliar, and thus potentially threatening to our sense of self. Jung claimed that people generally pursue a life that is safe, uncomplicated, and familiar – predictable and unchanging. And he likened this desire to trying to remain in childlike unconsciousness.

Essentially, Jung was saying that we naturally transition from childhood to adolescence to adulthood but only when we respond to the problems that beset us are we able to grow, evolve, expand our consciousness and have a richer perspective of life.

Jung wrote in his article “Stages of Life”:
“Every one of us gladly turns away from his problems; if possible, they must not be mentioned, or, better still, their existence is denied. We wish to make our lives simple, certain, and smooth, and for that reason problems are taboo. We want to have certainties and no doubts — results and no experiments — without even seeing that certainties can arise only through doubt and results only through experiment. The artful denial of a problem will not produce conviction; on the contrary, a wider and higher consciousness is required to give us the certainty and clarity we need…

“Something in us wishes to remain a child, to be unconscious or, at most, conscious only of the ego; to reject everything strange, or else subject it to our will; to do nothing, or else indulge our own craving for pleasure or power.”

Unknowingly, Carl Jung, almost 70 years ago, was describing much of the modern day condition and psyche – particularly as exemplified by celebrities – the refusal to grow up; staying stuck in denial or feeding off pleasure and power rather than embracing problems, challenges and responsibilities and thus expanding our consciousness and enjoyment of life. An obvious example is Charlie Sheen – a father of five children who focuses on partying, pleasure and power (‘winning.’)

Also read my newsletter from September 2009, “Beware of immature men”.

Leaving behind childlike unconsciousness does not imply leaving behind our ability to enjoy life, be spontaneous, have fun, play or have a sense of wonder and excitement about life. Nor does it imply, on the other hand, that we become sour, cynical adults. Leaving behind childlike unconsciousness refers to accepting that we are now responsible for our life; and responsibility is the sign of maturity and consciousness.

As a child, we have few responsibilities and we can depend on the people around us (our parents or adult caregivers) to provide (food, water and shelter) and to protect us. But growing up means that we are now responsible for ourselves and that, others too, may actually be depending on us.

The second element of ‘leaving behind childlike unconsciousness’ is leaving behind the constant desire for comfort. Yes, the implied reference here is the phrase and call to action: “Step out of your comfort zone.”

And although Jung never used that phrase, he may have been referring to stepping out of one’s comfort zone when he wrote:
“When we must deal with problems, we instinctively resist trying the way that leads through obscurity and darkness. We wish to hear only of unequivocal results, and completely forget that these results can only be brought about when we have ventured into and emerged again from the darkness.”

Many of us go to great lengths to avoid the uncomfortable, the darkness. And yet, no great achievements in life can be made and no great results can be had, unless we struggle, and unless we are willing to become uncomfortable. Did world famous swimmer, Michael Phelps, win 16 Olympic medals by staying comfortable?

Of course, when speaking about physical achievements such as Micheal Phelps, we are referring to physical discomfort (training up to six hours a day, seven days a week), but venturing and emerging from “the darkness” also refers to emotional discomfort i.e. stepping into the unknown and uncertain, taking risks, becoming vulnerable, embracing change, and being willing to face pain and the possibility of failure, loss or rejection.

Examples of stepping out of your comfort zone can be anything that is new, unfamiliar and even scary:

  • Asking someone out on a date
  • Striking up a conversation or even saying hello to someone in an elevator
  • Smiling at a stranger
  • Offering to give the work presentation/talk
  • Giving up security (a job, house, etc) to follow your passion or dream
  • Taking the first step to mend or heal a wounded relationship

Famous speaker and trainer, Zig Ziglar in his book “Over the Top” writes: “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at that sucker too long…”

In other words, don’t analyze it, over study it or over think it; just do it. The challenge is that our feelings i.e. our desire to be comfortable and to avoid discomfort often push us to stay right where we are. And if we want new results, we must take new action – we must venture into the darkness.

This week I was speaking with a friend Elaine who is a personal assistant to a celebrity and she was complaining about feeling like she is slave labor and that her boss spoilt her weekend.

“What do you really want to be doing; what is your passion Elaine?”, I asked her.
“Writing; I want to write a script for a movie.” Elaine responded.
“What’s stopping you?”
“I don’t have any peace or time – I don’t live on my own – I am sharing an apartment with a couple.”
“So, instead of hanging out at the local restaurant most nights of the week and talking about nothing, you could be writing. And you could be sharing an apartment in a calm atmosphere where you would have more privacy.”
“Yes, but I would need to move.”
“So again, what’s stopping you Elaine? Is it fear or laziness?’
“Both, I guess, but mostly laziness.”
“So, you’re not a victim and it’s not your boss’ fault; you can change things and pursue your dream.’

Sometimes we act like a child expecting others to make everything better for us. And so, realizing that she had created a rut (a comfort zone) for herself, Elaine thanked me and said she was now going to take action to create the life she wants. All she had to do was act in spite of her feelings – of laziness.

Yes, part of growing up is overcoming the childlike consciousness of laziness (my parents will do it for me), fear (my parents will protect me) and dependency (my parents will take care of that and of me.) And once we venture into the darkness (the unknown and uncomfortable) we can move through and emerge into a whole new world where we are autonomous, fulfilled and happy because we are living our passion and dream.

Also read my newsletter from June 2010 “Burn your bridges”:

And “Breaking bad habits” from January 2010:

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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  1. Avatar
    Ted Tardecilla says:

    Dr. Wanis,

    The article you wrote on growing up and the snippets you shared on Carl Gustav Jung’s writings is totally a wake-up call for me. At my age of late 40’s I have spent all of my working years in a corporate setting despite the yearning for entrepreneurial endeavors. As a parent and a father to 5, now mostly in the college years and studying in private exclusive universities. I have continued to work and labor just to fund the school and education related fees and have given-up a lot of great things I would like to do for myself.

    I have remained in my comfort zone for over 20 years now missing a lot of opportunities for growth, travel, investments, and even new friends because of fear for change, movement and doing what I really want so as not to rock the boat.

    Right now, I still have 7 more years to see the last of the children complete college. Hope this shortens as the other sibs could already help out. I can’t wait for the time that I would hop on a plane again and see the country side or tour the region; I am so eager for the time that I would leave corporate and probably go into teaching or farming which I love most; also, I am so excited for the time that I can again watch theater or a symphony or broadway without fear of spending college money.

    Thanks again for the realization. Probably there is a way to shorten the period and start growing up and forget all forms of laziness, fears and dependency on status quo. Maybe its about time to immediately get what I really want and enjoy.

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Ted,

      Thank you for being so open, honest and vulnerable. It takes a lot of courage to speak openly about your perspective of your own life and to admit that you would have preferred to have done things differently. Nonetheless, you have now made the decision to make new choices. Well done.
      There is a fine and delicate balance between being a devoted parent and completely losing your own goals and objectives.
      One of my friends and colleagues, child psychologist Dr. Vicki Panacionne, founder of the Better Parenting Institute warns mothers that if they put their children’s needs first at all times, then they are also teaching children that a woman’s needs is not important. Also, children can suffer from feelings of guilt if their parents give up all of their own dreams for the children. The point: let the children know what your plans are and why they are important.

      I hope this helps.
      All the best,
      Patrick

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