9-1-19 Family works ‚ Emotional development

By ROB COOMBS
Posted 9/29/19

Family works — 9-1

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9-1-19 Family works ‚ Emotional development

Posted

“Stay off my lawn.” 

“Leave me alone.”
“I don’t owe anybody anything.”
“Just let me drink my beer and watch TV.”
Such are the words of stagnation. By definition it implies a condition of being emotionally curved in upon the self (an unhealthy narcissism). In practice, it is a self-absorbed life where looking out for your own self-interests is the consuming need.
Taking care of self is paramount. The stagnated individual becomes his own favored child. In stagnation one tries, with pseudo-intimacy, to recoup relational deficits, but without genuine giving of the self or receiving of others. He is simply too self-absorbed to either give or receive without first calculating how it might benefit him. 

In contrast, the expressions of generativity are the polar opposites.
“Life has given me so much, what can I do to help the less fortunate?”
“What can I do to give back to help make our world a better place?”
“Whatever skills or talents I might have, I’m willing to share them in order to be a mentor for the next generation.”
“I want to work hard so that I might leave this world a better place.”
The generative person’s life shows the strength or virtue of genuine caring. This caring enables the generative person to be a contributor to the ongoing needs and growth of our world.

Why individuals become stagnant between the ages of 35 and 60 is strongly correlated to past emotional development. Mistrust, shame and doubt, guilt, inferiority, and isolation fuel stagnation. By mid-life the stagnated individual has given up. His belief is that optimism and hope are absurdities held by a select few who fail to understand the harsh realities of this world.
Such a reaction to the world is understandable given past experience. All of us are products of our environment, an environment that heavily influences how we think and who we become.

In the same manner, why individuals become generative during mid-life is strongly correlated to past emotional development. Trust, a healthy sense of self, the confidence to take initiative, the energy to put ideas and dreams into practice, a purpose-driven life, and meaningful relationships fuel generativity. Rather than seeing life as a series of problems, life is seen as series of challenges, challenges the generative person feels equipped to handle.

Even though an individual may grow up in a climate that fosters stagnation, the movement toward generativity is always possible. Education, support, and hope can facilitate a change in how one views self which eventually changes one’s perspective of the world around him. This change is well worth the effort as the generative individual enjoys a quality of life that will remain foreign to the individual who chooses stagnation.
Rob Coombs is a professor with a doctor of ministry degree and a doctor of philosophy with an emphasis in Family Systems.

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