This Is What Adults Do

    Just over a week ago, I had the honor of attending a Bat Mitzvah celebration for one of my wife’s singing students. Since I am not a member of the Jewish community, I don’t often have the privilege of going to these events. I was impressed by the importance of it and how that sort of initiation into adulthood is missing for the majority of our culture. Could this be one reason why we get so stuck in childhood patterns and find it hard to overcome habits of immature thinking and feeling?

    As a child who grew up in the sixties, there wasn’t a lot of emphasis on adult guidance. In fact, there seemed to be an idea that kids didn’t need that guidance. We needed to be unconditionally free to make our own choices. We had ideas like the “open classroom” in which we were supposed to “self-direct our own learning.” While I am all about kids learning to make their own choices, some guidance along the way seems to be a good idea. For example, the open classroom was a colossal failure. Yet, we still seem to be searching for the right balance when it comes to guiding our children into adulthood.

    Last week, I had an experience that highlighted my own lack of initiation. I was interviewed for a program that is going out to a huge audience online. As the time for this interview approached, I found myself feeling stronger and stronger pressure—almost to the point of panic. When the interview was just two days away, I was really well prepared—yet I still felt afraid. The interview subject was material that I have studied for the past 30 years, I was completely prepared, I knew the questions that would be asked of me—and I still felt afraid. These were obviously not “rational” feelings, but subconscious “stuff” from childhood. Because of that, there didn’t seem to be any way to talk them down.

    I decided to watch video of successful people speaking—to see what they were doing. Maybe I would learn something that would help me. I studied people in several different fields, yet I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what they were doing differently from me.

    Then these words came into my head:

    This is what adults do.”

    The voice was kind, gentle, yet very straightforward—like a good parent.

    I thought back to the Bat Mitzvah ceremony and the adult initiation I witnessed there. Yes, it was time for me, at 50 years old, to take another step into adulthood. That thought somehow calmed me, made me sit up straighter, and gave me a boost of confidence.

    The next moment, I heard myself say:

    “I’m well-prepared. I’m looking forward to speaking with the interviewer. I’m really going to enjoy this.”

    From that moment on, I reinforced those thoughts and did things I know how to do to relax my body, open my heart, and come from a good place.

    The interview went great. The interviewer was totally engaged in what I was saying. I was enthusiastic and I did truly enjoy it.

    Later that night, after the interview, I was flipping through TV channels to unwind and I caught a few moments too many of “adults” engaged in political ranting. The question struck me:

    Is this what adults do?

    Fortunately, I’ve discovered an “inner parent” available for guidance in just such moments.


    Kevin Schoeninger

    P.S. This week on Spiritual Growth Monthly, we’re exploring three simple practices to clear your personal energy field, so you can come from a better place. Click here to learn more.

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