Crossroads are all important times in life when the opportunity to grow is at its highest. And it really can be intimidating. These are times when everything we’ve invested into life seems to be on the line.
But there is something even scarier to those on the path of true growth. It’s that you might miss a turn. You could just cruise right by a critical intersection and not even recognize the opportunity.
Living on autopilot is dangerous because there will come an inevitable day of regret. That day when you realize it’s too late to turn back and do what you were meant to do in life. And…you’ll have no one to blame but yourself.
It’s terrifying and sobering at the same time.
So, the number one resource in your tool kit must be self-awareness. Radical, courageous self-awareness. You’ve got to recognize the signs that life is calling you to make a change; to discover your decision points so that you can shape your destiny in the most constructive manner possible.
The Most Important Crossroad Of All
There are many intersections to navigate. College and career, marriage, parenthood and a host of other choices present themselves as part of the norm. Yet, there is one critical crossroad that so many of us miss along the way.
So let’s just cut to the chase and discuss the one transformation that rules them all.
It’s the transition from psychological childhood into adulthood. And there is absolutely no guarantee that this transformation will ever occur automatically. You could be 55 years old and still act like a two-year-old. I’m sure you know what I mean.
Imagine: You are an adult with adult responsibilities. Adult life and its numerous demands are inescapable. And people depend on you for support emotionally, financially, spiritually and physically.
But, on the inside, you haven’t matured. You’re someone with adult obligations and the emotional habits of a child. Guess what? You’re going to be cranky! You’ll feel helpless and overwhelmed. You’ll feel controlled, deprived and rejected. You may even throw temper tantrums. Needless to say, life won’t seem fair.
The solution involves something simpler than how to deal with each and every challenge you face. The real solution is to face life as an adult. You’ll be more successful that way, regardless of any specific challenge you face.
How do you know when life is calling you to make the leap into emotional maturity?
If you consistently experience of the following seven issues in your life, then you can safely assume that life is asking you to move on from a child’s perspective into the adult world.
When you do, the challenges don’t magically disappear. In fact, it may mean that more is required of you. However, as an adult, you’ll be able to handle problems like never before.
1. You believe life is picking on you.
Sometimes life is very fair. The challenges of your hard work pay off. People keep their word. You are appreciated for what you do and the surprises are pleasant ones.
And sometimes…not. People lie. They take credit for what you do. They betray your confidence, refuse to cooperate, set you up for failure then criticize you. And things just break bad sometimes.
That’s how it is. As an adult, you accept this as part of the deal and move on. There’s little point in wasting energy insisting that things be different. How are you going to make the most of what is actually happening?
As an emotional child, however, you’ll get emotionally hooked into thinking that you’re a special exception to the rule that bad things happen to everyone. Once hooked and unable to let go, you’ll wind of sabotaging yourself, making it all much worse.
Do this: List the bad things that have happened to you so far in life – and all the unfair expectations you’re under. Then, do some research and find out how many other people experience similar challenges. Chance are 100% that you are not alone. What you’re going through is probably all too common.
That should settle the question of whether or not life is singling you out. Now, learn how resourceful people deal with your particular challenge.
Warning: If you’re not willing to gain new resources for tough challenges, then you may be sabotaging yourself. Learn more about why we sabotage ourselves by watching this free video.
2. You believe others are to blame.
We live in a world where people all around us are making dubious choices. People lie, cheat, steal, gossip, criticize, complain and engage in a manner of conspiracy, great and small.
Are you going to join in the fray, see others as the cause of your problems and dish out some revenge? Go right ahead. You can take lessons from third graders at any schoolyard in the world. And the more you play the game this way, the more you’ll be convinced of your victimhood, even when you win.
Or, you can do what an adult would do. Step back, see the big picture and make a strong decision to do the right thing. Whatever you do, do it as an adult. Do it with forethought. Do it well! But no one can do it for you.
One simple question you can ask yourself during the tough times is: What would this look like from a mountaintop?
Then, imagine yourself on a mountain peak, looking down on your life – and the lives of thousands of others. From this distanced view, what can you learn?
When you act as an adult, something magical happens. You attract other adults into your life. Surrounded by adults, you’ve got the best friends you could ask for.
3. You resist accountability.
Who appreciates gulping down a heavy dose of accountability?
Adults do. As an adult, you may not enjoy it, but you can appreciate it. After all, how are you going to be your best without accountability? If you are most interested in holding yourself accountable, when others help out by giving you reminders and confronting your laziness, you see them as allies. Your friends are those who won’t settle for excuses.
If you’re lazy or feel entitled to do whatever you feel like doing, then you may not appreciate being held accountable. This is because holding yourself accountable is not your own priority.
And this is where the vicious cycle begins. When you resist accountability, others typically resent you and press harder. When they press harder, it becomes much more difficult for you to appreciate, and so on. Until the day when they give up and reject you entirely.
You may be relieved to get rid of them at that point. But you still may not appreciate accountability, so it’s still your loss.
When you own your responsibilities, being held accountable is a pleasure. It reflects well on you, so you’re pleased to report on progress.
4. You don’t see your parents as people.
Do you still see your parents as oppressors, ne’er-do-wells or blameworthy?
Seeing your parents negatively reinforces all the angst of your childhood and keeps you attached to it. Adults see their parents as people. Imperfect people. People who made mistakes. People who had issues of their own. But people nonetheless.
Seeing your parents as people doesn’t mean you condone their errors. It doesn’t even mean that you love or respect them. It merely means that you see them with more understanding than you did as a child.
Interestingly, most people who resent their parents are like them in significant ways, especially on the inside. It’s mind-boggling that we don’t see this. I was 35 when I realized, at last, that I was much more like my father than I ever wanted to admit. That thought alone helped me see him as a person and learn greater self-control.
Do you want to see your parents as people? Whether or not they were good at parenting, it will be good for you as a person if you do.
5. You feel overwhelmed….a lot.
Feeling overwhelmed is normal if you’ve just taken on a big project or are on a steep learning curve. If you feel overwhelmed by typical adult obligations, however, then you may be clinging onto to a leftover sense of helplessness from childhood.
In truth, it is most likely that you absolutely possess the ability to get done what you need to get done every single day. Adults sit down, make a list, break things down into manageable chunk sizes, and get to work.
If you are resistant to empowering yourself in this way, then you might want to ask yourself if chronic helplessness is an issue for you.
Here’s a little process for you if you are constantly dealing with cluttered, spinning thoughts about all you have to get done:
1. Write down the thing that overwhelms you in the middle of a page.
2. Then, write down every scattered thought and feeling you have about it – anywhere on the same page. Do this for a few minutes until you run out of new thoughts.
3. Next, tune into some mundane sound in your immediate environment. It could be the sound of your computer humming, a fan, the distant traffic or the refrigerator running. Just listen to it exclusively for 15-30 seconds, until you feel yourself settle a bit.
4. Now, write down the thing that overwhelms you on a fresh piece of paper. Keep listening to the mundane sound while writing down the new thoughts that come.
Notice the difference? Say good-bye to cluttered thoughts! There is a well-researched reason why this simple process works, having to do with your brain’s default mode network. Read more here.
6. You can’t say no.
There is no greater trap than saying yes to things you have no business saying yes to. A chronic “yesser” discovers before long that saying yes to one thing really means saying no to other things – even other things you’ve said yes to. You just can’t deliver on every request, regardless of what you are inclined to promise.
So, most people pleasers end up displeasing people when they don’t back up their agreements.
Saying no means that you understand your limitations and value what you have said yes to. You can only do this by saying no to distractions.
You’ll displease some people by saying no, but will end up commanding their respect as well.
Here’s a “no hack” that might work for you as a transition into saying no more of the time:
Carry a personal planner with you. Log everything in it. When someone asks you to do something, you can say no while showing off your filled-up schedule. This demonstration will take the pressure of you and give them visual evidence that the no is legitimate.
7. You don’t take care of yourself.
This is the granddaddy of them all. When you don’t take care of yourself, you send a loud and clear message to others: It is your responsibility to take care of me.
This is a child’s message. You may not intend it, but that’s the message others receive. Yes, you could argue it. You could say, “No, I am not asking anyone to take care of me. If I don’t take care of myself, then that’s my problem.”
Wrong. Your self-care affects the people in your life, period. To learn how it affects them, ask.
When I don’t look after my health, how does it affect you?
When I don’t pick up after myself, how does it affect you?
When I don’t groom myself well, how does it affect you?
When I don’t manage my stress, how does it affect you?
Chances are, you already know how it affects the people in your life. So, make it a goal to end the self-sabotage and take good care of yourself.
The Obstacle at the Intersection of Any Crossroads
It’s self-sabotage. On a grand scale, clinging to childhood expectations and roles in an adult world is the essence of a self-sabotaging way of being.
Even though you may be at a crossroads, you’re stuck in the intersection, dodging traffic. It’s no fun. In fact, it can be downright miserable for you and the people in your life.
Your most powerful weapon against self-sabotage is your own honest self-awareness. Everything you do to expand it contributes to your maturity as a person. Self-sabotage tendencies can distort your perspective such that you don’t believe you are capable or worthy of confronting the world as a healthy adult. In fact, in self-sabotage, you may not even want to grow up and be happy.
This is the issue at the heart of every point made above. Now, the choice is yours. Do you want to overcome?
Learn more about how self-sabotage works to keep you down – and learn to overcome it by watching this enlightening free video.
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Calling you to Grow