You might think, at first glance, “what a strange title” to this blog, since we all become adults eventually, and function in an adult world. We might even scoff, brushing it off as insignificant. But have you thought of what it is exactly that adulthood involves? Are you aware that it is actually a difficult process to come from a position of a one down relationship with our parental authority over us as we are growing up, and trying to learn how to mature into adulthoood, emerging successfully with the ability to have peer to peer relationships and feel fully sustained? Do you know what makes an adult an adult? Do you know what symptoms exist if your maturing process was incomplete when you first entered the adult world?

This is the fourth segment in my series on boundary development, that I blog about on Friday’s.
Over the last few weeks, we have looked at four major components to growth and development that we all require to grow up into healthy and whole, functioning adults with the proper sense of authority that comes with the position of being an adult. To quickly recap, in case this is the first blog of mine that you are reading, three weeks ago, I wrote about the first essential ingredient in boundary development: the need to attach, connect and bond with others. Week 2 was about the need to separate and individuate and begin the boundary development process, involving discovering what we are each responsible for and what we are not. A critical stage in development, no doubt, that unless we truly feel bonded, we cannot successfully develop a real sense of self. The third stage of growth was our need to know that we are loved completely, including our perceived ‘good’ parts and ‘bad parts’. To know that you are loved unconditionally. Reaching our climax in today’s blog, we find that we need to properly maneuver into adulthood, gradually taking on more and more responsibility, influence, power, authority and the like. To quote author Dr. Henry Cloud, from his book “Changes that heal” which has been my influence for this series, he suggests that:

“Authority has a number of different facets: power, expertise, office, influence and submission. Adults have the power or right to give commands, enforce obedience, take action, or make final decisions.”

The problem is that a lot of us are not ready for adulthood by the time we get there, which is why we see people abusing power in abusive relationships, because they have not yet resolved the issue of one up one down relationships, and are defensively taking on a persona of being one up from everyone else, while inside, and well hidden, even from themselves, they still battle feeling like they are incomplete inside. This of course is only one example out of so many.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the symptoms of an inability to properly move into that position and authority of the adult life:

If you relate to any of the following, you may still need to do some inner work and learn more about boundary development in order to successfully take your proper place in the world as an adult. Here they are:

-Inordinate needs for approval from others
-Fear of disapproval
-Guilt
-sexual struggles
-fear of failure
-need for permission
-feelings of inferiority
-feelings of superiority
-competitiveness
-loss of power
-judgmentalism
-looking at the world in black and white terms
-anxiety
-hate towards or issues with authority figures
-parenting others
-impulsiveness
-dependency
-depression

If you find you relate to any of the above, you may need to develop a few skills to exert your God-given authority you were meant to function in as He intended.

Here are a couple of skills needed to complete the maturing process and enter into adulthood, as a whole and complete person:

-Reevaluate your beliefs. As children, you were taught what to believe about a variety of issues, everything to do with family values, to religious opinions, to cultural convictions, and traditions. As an adult, you have the ability to decide what family beliefs and values you choose to hold onto, and what to let go of. To decide for yourself what you believe. This is a very difficult task in itself as it is often met with resistance from family members if we deviate from the expected family beliefs and traditions. But experimentation is a necessary part of determining for yourself who you will become and what you will believe. It is a difficult process for parent and maturing child.

-This is a toughy… The ability to disagree with authority figures. A lot of times, whether in the family unit, or at work, or in religious settings, this is met with extreme resistance. Believe it or not, but a lot of people in authority positions feel threatened when they are questioned by someone who is an adult in their ownership of themselves. Likely because they hold a position of authority but have not yet themselves graduated into adulthood themselves. As a properly functioning adult, being questioned or challenged on your opinion is most welcomed, as this person knows who they are, what they are responsible for and what they are not responsible for, and openly welcomes criticism as an opportunity for growth. How many people do you know who actually function in this ‘unthreatened’ way of true adulthood?

-See Parents and Authority figures realistically. Stop putting them on a pedestal or thinking and believing they will not fail you or are ‘super human’ in some way. Eventually, you will become disappointed and disillusioned when you realize they are not perfect either.

-Learn how to make your own decisions. Start taking initiative for your own behavior, choices, responsibility and the consequences that result from your choices and decisions.

-Practice Disagreeing when you disagree with someone else’s opinion on a subject.

-Give yourself permission to be equal with your parents.

-Recognize and pursue your talents and abilities.

-Learn to discipline yourself.

-Submit to others out of your sense of freedom, and out of a position of love.

-Deal with your sexuality. A lot of sexual issues in adulthood have a lot to do with how your parental system viewed sexuality. For instance from a religious background, one may feel shy and even like sex is a bad thing, causing you to shrink back from your sexuality in adulthood. Or coming from a sexually permissive background, you may lack a sense of commitment sexually in a marriage relationship, or struggle with body image or have come from some abusive situations because someone in your past has violated you while you were expressing your sexual freedom, leaving you more vulnerable and less sexual in your adulthood. There are so many different possible scenarios that may affect your sense of ownership in this area of adulthood. Are you able to clearly communicate to your partner what it is that you like or dislike sexually? These are other indications that you may need to finish maturing if you are unable to clearly articulate your sexual needs.

There are other tips as well, but I will leave you with this last one:

-The ability to love and appreciate people who are different from you.
This is probably the biggest indicator that you are well on your way to maturing into a healthy adulthood. This suggests that you have learned from the previous three stages of growth and development and are able to love people truly, flaws and all, without expecting them to be perfect and ideal people. It also indicates that you have been properly nurtured yourself, and have learned to develop boundaries and a sense of self to know who you are and who you are not, in order to be “ok” with others who are different from you, and to still love and appreciate them.

If you’d like to look at a great resource, check out my one-on-one Boundary Development Program which will provide you with many of the tools you need to help identify and move past the barriers that have been holding you back in life!

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If you have any questions on today’s blog or would like help on taking steps forward, I’d love to hear from you!  Post a comment below or visit my website and register for your Complimentary Strategy Session to discuss your situation in more detail.

Katie Meilleur – Certified Relationship Life Coach

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