Sailing on Lake Union (2007-06-26)

Great Expectations at Duck Dodge
Tuesday nights during the summer I'll often be with Allan's crew on his sailboat on Lake Union in Seattle, WA instead of elsewhere in the world. I love the wind and water; sailing is adventurous to me. This night stronger winds added exercise to my relaxation. As yet we've won no more black ducks, however.


Discussing How to Be An Adult (2007-06-28/29)

I admire my older mentors for the grace and good humor with which they handle adversity, and the ease with which they handle responsibility. I know several others of similar age that react to emotional events the way I remember people reacting in high school. Did these others get stuck somewhere in the maturing process? What made my mentors keep maturing? I don't know. I imagine, however, that How to Be An Adult may be useful to those with the motivation toward maturity.

As a previous post sparked some discussion, I wanted to post more detail on this book. The previous post selected a specific aspect of the book (assertiveness), whereas this post will provide an overview of How to Be An Adult.

Paulist Press published How to Be an Adult: A Handbook for Psychological and Spiritual Integration. Shambhala published How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving. These publishers may show the intellectual trend in David Richo's thinking. I have started How to Be an Adult in Relationships but do not find it as inspiring as How to Be an Adult.

How to Be an Adult has as its metaphor a heroic journey: a departure from containment in conditioned fear (by letting go of neurotic ego), a struggle to move out and to become unconditional and powerful (by building a healthy ego), and a return to wholeness as unconditionally loving (by releasing the spiritual self). The parts of the book are "Personal Work," "Relationship Issues," and "Integration"--and I understand the last part least. These parts, however, remind me of Stephen R. Covey's maturity continuum--from dependence to independence to interdependence--that I've mentioned several times. I end this post with a list of the issues these parts and chapters discuss:
  • Personal Work
    • Growing Pains and Growing Up
    • Assertiveness Skills
    • Challenges to Adulthood
      • Fear
      • Anger
      • Guilt
    • Values and Self-Esteem
  • Relationship Issues
    • Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships
    • Intimacy
  • Integration
    • The Art of Flexible Integration
    • Befriending the Shadow
    • Dreams and Destiny: Seeing in the Dark
    • Ego/Self Axis: Where Psychology and Spirituality Meet
    • Unconditional Love


Rereading How to Be An Adult (2007-05-10/13)

The art in assertiveness is to ask strongly for what you want and then to let go of it if the answer is No. You tread the fine line between consistent perseverance and the stubborn persistence that can feel to others like abuse. Passive people do not ask for what they want. Aggressive people demand (openly) or manipulate (secretly) to get what they want. Assertive people simply ask, without inhibition of themselves or pressure on others.
--David Richo, How to be An Adult

A copy David Richo's How to be An Adult: A Handbook on Psychological and Spiritual Integration (borrowed a decade ago from someone I no longer know) comes off my bookshelf every few years for my reading. The forward notes, "This book is written in a highly condensed way," and this density provides me greater understanding each read. David Richo frequently quotes thinkers such as Joseph Campbell, Teilhard de Chardin, Émile Durkheim, Meister Eckhart, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jung, Alice Miller, Virginia Satir, and Shakespeare (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, etc.).

There are three parts to How to be An Adult: "Personal Work," "Relationship Issues," and "Integration". Within Part 1 is Chapter 2, "Assertiveness Skills". An earlier post quoted this book in a discussion of definitions of emotional and personal maturity. I think the "Helpful Principles" in Chapter 2; and the definitions (above) of assertiveness, passivity, and aggressiveness; are useful as well.

The first "Helpful Principle" is as follows:
Early in life, you may have learned that it is not legitimate to:
  • Show your real feelings
  • Give and receive openly
  • Ask for things directly
  • Tell your opinions
  • Take care of your own interests
  • Say No to what you do not want
  • Act as if you deserved abundance
These are injunctions against having power, and to the extent that we have internalized them, we have disabled ourselves and limited our adult capacities. Our journey to wholeness begins from just such a wounded place.
Since I want abundance, this is a good place to begin. Other principles strike me as useful:
  • "Check out your feelings, suspicions, or doubts with the people involved."
  • "Trying without doing is wishing rather than choosing."
  • "You can be informed by others' behavior rather than affected by it."
Finally, David Richo lists "Basic Rights of the Assertive Person". Some of these stand out to me:
  • "To say No or Maybe without pressure to decide in accord with someone else's timing."
  • "To be illogical in making decisions."
  • "To be free to explain your choices or not (includes not having to make excuses or give reasons when you say No)."
These stand out because I sometimes feel hurt when others exercise these rights. Perhaps--as is often the case--I don't really believe I have a right to delay, or make illogical or unexplained decisions, so insist others must be comprehensible. In most relationships, however, I try to practice assertion:
  1. Be clear about your feelings, choices, and agenda
  2. Ask for what you want
  3. Take responsibility for your feelings and behavior
I think these skills are essential to mature adulthood.