We live in this world where outcomes in our lives are controlled by so many precious variables, one second we’re getting coffee preparing for our next meeting and the next we’re experiencing one of the most life halting moments of our lives. We live moment to moment completely unaware of what is to accompany us on our journey throughout life. Somedays it feels like we have to fight battles, as if, our lives were to depend upon it. Ultimately, in that battle between what we think we want and what we know we can’t have – we lose ourselves. We live within a culture that thwarts and even threatens to upend individuals marriages, families and lives. Our impediments to move closer to unison and harmony come from a deep fear of becoming no longer – the free-standing, self-determining individual. A person. And not merely a person, but a person born with certain ‘unalienable rights.’ When we’re acting from a place of selfishness it is not our partners that we’re angry at – it is ourselves. If we were to look a the younger child who learned these traits, it would be called something like “George, was a loner, he did whatever he pleased.” It isn’t anyone’s authority to tell him how to be or what to do. And unbridled self-expression is like poison in the halls of debate. The avenging angel doesn’t hold up in the court of law and so the long-standing battle between you and I, you and me, prevails with righteous assemblies. Taking on the battle of life and converging it with our partners in isolation will only end up in bloodshed and tears. When we’re able to recognize that the myth of relational heroism is a fallacy and that showing up in our relationships begins with tuning into our partners and learning to approach the situation from a non-triggered consciousness place called the Wise Adult.
The reactive approach to dealing with individuals in relationships is inherently individualistic and selfish. We have lost consciousness, an appreciation for the whole, and instead, we have shifted to you and me. And through time, with all the barricade building we have gone so far into ourselves that all we can feel is loneliness and anger. That is why it is important to understand your wise adult in relational couples counseling.
Adult: Generous without much selfishness. Wants to give as they have healed significantly.
Adolescent: Me, Me, Me, Me.
Adult: Brings in the income to take care of their needs
Adolescent: Dependent on others or denies self what is needed. Addicted to the material.
Adult: Loves deeply and wants to be loved back deeply
Adolescent: Lacks the mature loving faculties of the adult. Shallow in loving.
Adult: Zero or less desire for drama.
Adolescent: Thrives on drama and the energy that comes from it. Attracts people to have drama with.
Adult and Soul: Breaks ties with mother and father knowing they are separate souls and have a separate path. They are not enmeshed with their parents and know their boundaries.
Adolescent: Enmeshed with parents. Still looking to the parents to feed them love as they have not filled themselves through fulfilling adult relationships and emotional healing.
Adult: Meets the emotional needs of a romantic partner or friend
Adolescent: Measures what is given – I will give you 2 marbles; will you give me back 5? Does not have the desire nor the access to the adult brain and intuitive senses to meet another adult where they want to be met.
New research is being developed that examines the borders between the couple, and the ways one’s partner’s emotional state, often inarticulate, many times unconscious will impact one another. These emotional states can be associated with basic survival traits you might see in animals. If we can trust that our partners will help us through a life-threatening event, emotional stress won’t arise as much as when they’re single. The Wise Adult, the prefrontal cortex, led by the right hemisphere in our brains, recognizes the whole and understands how interdependent we are. But when we are under stress – and for some of us most of the time – the adolescent brain steps in and takes over.
I speak about this phenomenon from experience currently practicing grief work with my clients. I
Founder AND owner
Paige Swanson, LPC-A, NCC, MA
I completed my Masters in Applied Psychology from Northwestern University. I specialize in trauma therapy and hope to begin working with you on your journey through counseling.