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It will help your emotional and social development to recognize the stages you’ve gone through to get to be who you are emotionally today. More importantly, it will help you understand that you can, within obvious limits, pretty much be whoever you want to be now and in the future. The point is that you can change, so why continue to struggle and suffer. Why not invent the self and life you want?
Stage 1: Your thoughts and actions are determined by your parents and other adults—by what they say and don’t say and do and don’t do
When we are children, our parents and other adults seed our minds and the seeds simply, naturally grow into something we accept as us. They believe that people aren’t to be trusted and we believe it too. They act as if their needs are more important than ours and we accept that we are less than. They tell us that we won’t amount to anything, and we assume they know best and either destroy ourselves trying to prove them wrong or destroy ourselves because we always knew they were right.
Stage 2: Your thoughts and behavior belong to your parents but you act on them as if they were your own
Too often, we simply muddle along with a set of beliefs and approach to life that are wrong and dangerous to our well-being and that of others. Doing so feels familiar and natural and we may not imagine that there are other ways to think or act: Our way is the right way and it may never occur to us to question this falsehood. Even when things go awry and life doesn’t work out the way we want it to or how we believe it should, we stand by our assumptions as valid. If we keep this kind of non-thinking up, we are bound to end up with unhappiness and pain.
Stage 3: You realize that a different set of thoughts and behaviors are viable options and pursue them
With any luck, at some point, we start to recognize that people think and behave differently than we do and that some of them appear to be a good deal happier and successful than we are. With intent or unconsciously, you begin to examine your thoughts and behaviors and are stunned that you’ve been relying on them for so long when they make little sense and aren’t taking you where you want to go. You develop a vision of a new self, a wiser self, and better understand who and how you want to be. You become the agent of your life and leave childish thoughts and behavior behind.
This is called progress, healing, self-improvement, and evolution. It’s a good thing!
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