Leaving the design of one’s approach to working on maturity up to the self that needs to be more mature is, in my opinion, a poor strategy. One’s current characteristics of immaturity will likely exert a high degree of influence over the design of the approach. The predictable result is a design that leaves those characteristics insufficiently challenged. A better strategy involves engaging a higher degree of objectivity in the design than most people can muster up when looking at self. Generally, that means engaging an outside perspective from someone who:
- Has his/her feet on the ground on the terrain of working on self
- Is free of emotional neediness for your approval
- Can be a directional resource without being prescriptive
Over the past 30 years, I have had the privilege of having a number of key individuals who have influenced me in this regard, each who helped point me in a direction without getting in the way of me doing my own thinking. My experience with these individuals has led to the emergence of a process, evolved over several decades, for going after progressively higher levels of emotional maturity. Overcoming resistance to the awareness of my own immaturity characteristics is just the first hurdle. Knowing how to work on those characteristics is another important dimension of the work. Through the influence of a number of individuals and many years of reflecting on what has been helpful, a process for “working on self” has emerged for me. The process can be broken down into four distinct areas of focus, as illustrated here: As depicted above, this is not a linear, first do this, then do that, process. For me, it is cyclical, repeating and mostly concurrent. At the core of this process is the willingness and commitment to move toward experiences that are likely to stimulate my reactivity for the express purpose of observing and regulating it (reactivity) in myself. Then, I watch how the system responds to my attempts to shift the way I handle myself, noting both the response of others and the impact on me. I will break each of these areas of focus down in greater detail over the next two months, in a series of four posts. Most importantly, I am sharing what I have found helpful in growing my own maturity. I think it is important for anyone to do his/her own thinking. I encourage you to test out what I am presenting and decide for yourself what is useful for you and what is not.