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Key Transition Stages in
Emotional Maturation

(c) 2009-14 by
Angus Cunningham
Principal, Authentix Coaches
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This diagram illustrates the path a child has to find to become a rationally and emotionally mature
citizen.  Inspired by the stages of maturity described in Marshall Rosenberg's 2003 book "
Nonviolent
Communication: A Language of Life
", it shows two plateaus in the path to maturity at which we all need
a helping hand from someone who has already passed through to the next stage.  Many people do not
get this help for one reason or another.  But, however that may be for you, anyone who aspires
eventually to exemplify a universal ideal for a species facing threats, on many fronts, of extinction
begins as a predominantly instinctive and completely dependent being and then must grow into
opposing, then considering, and finally adapting both successfully and helpfully to, four necessities of
relationship with others:

1.        No one can be fully independent because our universe is inter-connected in many subtle but
unavoidable ways, and so, to complete one’s growth into a fully mature member of our species, one
must eventually work out a series of viable
inter-dependencies, i.e. alternating states of dependence
and independence without addiction to co-dependence, with others;

2.        No one can feel true to self without discovering and expressing his/her own authentic essence
(genius?);

3.        The affinity or love one can enjoy in relationship with others is limited by how well one learns to
express and share one's unique authenticity with empathy for others;

4.        Anyone who finds a reliably viable way through the many personal and social obstacles that we
all commonly encounter in our passages to emotional maturity will find that he or she has had to
include in his or her learning a means to become both accurately conscious of the quality of his or her
emotions and attentive to the emotions of others.

At that stage -- emotional maturity, one's search is for state
s of being known as equanimity, serenity,
nirvana, or bliss, and for
balance in our senses of truth.

To accept (and then adapt successfully to) these necessities can aptly be described as a Herculean feat –
as many clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, organizational leaders, and experienced leadership
coaches will affirm.  That such a feat is of Herculean proportions derives in significant degree from the
phenomenon of traumas precipitating irrational and lasting judgments in the assessments we verbalize
of our circumstances.  Many will agree, therefore, with my opinion that virtually none of the voters in
the elections of even the most stable and advanced Western democracies reaches the ideal of a viably
universal human being -- except occasionally.  This is because the intermittent periods of short
duration in which we do make the effort to become sufficiently aware of our emotions, strengths and
limitations to be able to articulate them in ways others do not sense as inauthentic are rare.  In some
circumstances we can do this without difficulty.  Yet very often we find ourselves
reacting
presumptively rather than responding intelligently.  In these presumptive interludes in our lives our
searches to escape the rigours of having to learn the skills of functional interdependence in the
increasingly interconnected world in which we are all now living seem beyond reach.  At such times we
give way to reacting.  For example, following George W. Bush in fits of understandable rage/anxiety
after '9/11', a majority of Americans agreed to extend the idea of
Freedom Now! into societies in which
that idea is dangerously alien.  Similarly, a majority of Americans enlisted, in pursuit of the idea of
Entitlement Now!, in the noble but currently not quite attainable concept of house ownership for all.

The challenge of evoking more rationality and interdependence among the members of a society in
which a majority are pursuing the priorities of
Freedom Now! or Entitlement Now! is that your or my
taking our responsibilities to others seriously is not an automatic assurance that others will also do so
reciprocally.  The question then arises:
Can we do more than just hope that others will become
more responsible too?
 Anyone who wants to do more than just hope might begin by asking these
questions:

  • What level of responsibility can we each accept for reducing the level of toxicity in the
    linguistic 'swimming pools' in which we swim?
  • What levels of responsivity and rationality can we each expect from others or afford to
    induce in others to the same end?
  • What constitutes a practical rationality for each of us, for our families, friends,
    community, organization, world (ethnicity, nation, region, planet) in each present
    circumstance each of us encounters?

While answering these questions each in our own individual way, we each have to continue
'swimming', of course, or we each will drown.  Yet is it not also necessary that we do something socially
intelligent and contributory about the foul state of the pool in which a large number of people have,
let’s admit it, 'been pissing' – seemingly without conscience
(but often unblissfully unaware of that dys-
functionality)
.

If one’s ideology is to 'the right', conventional wisdom is that 'purification of the pool by government
chlorine usually turns out to burn our skins'.  But, if so, can we honestly now expect further
implementation of the ideology of free markets will make our pool enjoyable again?  Well, I doubt
you would be reading this far if you believed any more that the experiments with free markets that so
many at the financial top of our societies have been advocating for at least a generation will ever be
adequate to clean our pool.

If one’s ideology is to the 'left', conventional wisdom is that 'a progressive government will lead to a
gentler means of purifying the pool than chlorine'.  Perhaps it will, but isn’t that simply hoping that the
human nature of a coalition of pragmatically back-scratching alpha personalities who convince us their
promises of the moon will be more palatable than what we have come to expect from those who
advocate no change at all?

There are some who say that the only way we can clean our linguistically toxic swimming pool is by
being clean ourselves.  “
We must be,” said Mohandas Gandhi, the mahatma and political apostle of non-
violent communication, “
the change we want to see in the world”.  In the swimming pool analogy, that
philosophy amounts, I sense, to something like: “
No.  Contra-chlorination won't work because no one can
get anyone else to change.  We can only set a super-stoic example and trust that God will do the rest
”.

Well, yes ...
except that maybe, just maybe, there’s a way that was unknown to the mahatma from
Porbandar, one unavailable to him for some reason, to attract more responsivity and induce more
responsibility by a means more powerful, and hopefully also less personally costly, than hoping and
trusting that others will follow an example of starvation-diet, humour, wit, and unmatchable stoicism.  
Eye-Zen English, an approach to integrating the principles of authenticity and empathy, is emerging as
just such a way.  I plan this year to publish a book describing and illustrating how
Eye-Zen English is a
set of psycho-linguistic principles that anyone can learn and use productively in conversations aimed at
problem-solving in which economic justice is just as important as economic efficiency and productivity.

(c) 2009-14 by Angus Cunningham.  All Rights Reserved.  Permissions.
Toronto, 141116
..
Feel free to review, at this link, the assembly of materials for a new book whose title is
provisionally conceived as "
Adventures in Problem-Solving Dialogue: Making Honesty a Safe
Policy
", for which the author of this page is now in the process of attracting a publisher.