Picture, if you will, a set of stairs. They are used to get from Point A to Point B. Upstairs to the bedrooms of a house, or up to an important State or Federal Building or . . . The point is, these stairs are used to get to where you want to go.
This is also true in the journey toward maturity. Each step is necessary to have accomplished in order to make it to the next, or to the top. No jumping two or three steps at a time, as many teens and young adults do when climbing wooden or cement steps. Each step must be accomplished in order to accomplish the one that comes next.
So first you accomplish TRUST, or if not, you end up with mistrust. This looks like trusting absolutely no one or having blind trust or gullibility. Then as we discussed in the last article, it is necessary to accomplish AUTONOMY – the ability to make decisions and to stand on one’s own. Yes, it’s necessary to have TRUST in oneself in order to make the decisions and stick with them. If we do not develop AUTONOMY, we end up with will.
Having developed these first two steps, we move upward to accomplish INITIATIVE. It’s easy to see that we must trust ourselves to make decisions to look at a situation in front of us, and have the ability to move ahead and take action. Can you look at a situation some family member or friend is struggling with and think for a moment what the appropriate action on your part would be, and then get off your “duff” and do what would be in their best interest? Or do you just look at their situation and say to yourself, “I just don’t know what to do.” Or do you say “Let somebody else do it?” Do you look at your apartment or house and recognize that some action needs to be taken to clean it or make it more attractive, but you choose instead to “let it go” and just hang out, maybe watching TV? Accomplishing this step leaves us with a sense of purpose, and allows us to develop humor and resilience.
If you do not take the initiative to benefit yourself or someone else, ask yourself which of the first two steps you have not accomplished. Do you trust yourself to take a chance and just do the job? Can you decide exactly what needs to be done? Do you have the initiative to ask someone else for suggestions or help, if you don’t think you can accomplish that chore on your own?
Usually the reason that we do not develop one or more of the steps on the stairway to maturity, is that in our character forming years, some trauma or wound came to us when that step should have been accomplished. Trust should have been developed in the first 18 months of life, based on the relationship with Mom and Dad. Autonomy should have been developed between 18 months and 3 years of age. INITIATIVE is developed between ages 3 to 6, before a child starts school. This step is necessary for the child in Elementary school for him or her to be able to start and complete an assignment.
So take some time to decide where you are on the stairway so far. Have you been able to accomplish steps one to three? If not (and do your best to be honest to yourself) then look back and ask yourself exactly what occurred in your early years that may have sabotaged your growth. When you know what that is, get out a pen or pencil and a pad of paper and write about it. Then share what you have written with a trusted friend or counselor. Once accomplished, tear up your paper, burn it, drown it or save it in a very safe place. This activity is extremely beneficial for the development of your maturity. Enjoy the process