Creating a Meaningful Life: Through Facing the Anxiety of Being an Adult
Lisa Firestone, Ph.D. and Joyce Catlett 90 minutesMost people are unaware that they are conducting their lives more from a child’s frame of reference than in an adult mode. Although men and women mature physically and become more capable in their practical lives, they often fail to achieve full emotional maturity and strength. From a Separation Theory perspective, a theory that integrates psychodynamic and existential systems of thought, the primary barriers to maturity are unresolved childhood trauma, the defenses the child forms to ward off emotional pain and existential dread. The latter refers to a core anxiety related to growing up, facing the fact that time is passing, and giving value to life in spite of death’s inevitability. This workshop outlines six major aspects of the adult approach to life: acting rational, formulating and implementing goals, equality in relationships, being active versus passive, being non-defensive and open and realizing one’s personal power and strength. We will explore the psychodynamics underlying the tendency to hold onto a child’s perspective despite the emotional turmoil, maladaption and unhappiness it creates. The principle barriers to living an adult existence are the fears and anxiety associated with becoming adult. There are five major aspects to the fear of growing up: Symbolic separation from one’s parents and other individuals who have offered some sense of security, preference for fantasy as a defense mechanism over reality considerations, the threat of feeling one’s aloneness and death anxiety.
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