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Have you noticed as you get older that adults aren’t quite as switched on as we thought they were when we were children?
When we were younger, we thought adults had all the answers and that they knew what they were doing. But as we became adults ourselves, we started to see that actually very few people have a fucking clue what they’re doing.
So why were we always listening to them?
I have created a new term that I call mental puberty, which describes the transition from child to adult psychologically, and covers what we really mean by the term “growing up.”
The word puberty typically means transitioning from child to adult, physically, but this does not guarantee psychological growth. And if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, then by now you’ve discovered that you’re surrounded by children living in adult bodies, people that look grown up, but don’t act it.
Child vs Adult
Take a moment to consider the differences between child psychology and that of an adult:
Children require rules. They do what they’re told. They try to fit in. They let authorities decide right from wrong. They are ruled by their urges and needs. They lie to avoid trouble and consequences and responsibility. They allow themselves to be forced to do things they don’t enjoy. They compromise their values to go along with their friends, and so on.
How many adults do you know actually fit that description really well? And are you one of them?
It’s time for you to re-examine your beliefs and your principles. Where did they come from? How did you come to believe them – those rules that you’ve been following for years, maybe even decades? Where did those rules originate from? Did you decide on them yourself? Did you go through a trial and error experiment to figure out right from wrong for yourself? Or were you told by somebody else and you’ve been following those ever since?
Are you an adult, or are you a child?
My own deception
When I look back at the way I was in my 20’s, I see a lot of child psychology hidden inside a man’s body.
I took shit jobs that were easy to get just because I was insecure about money. I did whatever my bosses told me. I followed company policy, even if it compromised my own integrity.
I did whatever was necessary to keep my friends and to make people like me, even if it meant being dishonest or putting on a false performance to impress people.
I often did things that I knew were bad for me in the long term simply because they felt good and comfortable to do. I procrastinated on things that were good for me, just because they felt a bit uncomfortable.
I followed rules and laws and beliefs that I didn’t agree with, just to be a good little boy.
And all of this combined together is the picture of a child, but in a man’s body. And when I look back, I really see myself as a boy. When I was in my 20’s, I didn’t feel like an adult, I felt like an imposter, like I still had a teenage brain, but was stuck in an adult life.
However, around the age of 25, I decided that it was time to grow up. I decided it was time to stop being a boy and figure out what it means to be a man. Not by anybody else’s definition, but by my own.
Mostly what this means is I had to let go of what I call inherited beliefs. These were beliefs that I had not formed myself – they had been given to me or imposed on me, or I’d been manipulated or conditioned into believing them, just like a child.
These were beliefs that needed to be tested, to be confirmed or denied. I had to start over again, figuring out right from wrong and what it really meant to be a man.
So I started to look at all these beliefs that I had and I felt really strongly about. For years, I’d never proven or tested them. Things like:
- I can’t talk to strangers
- Don’t say anything, if you’ve got nothing nice to say
- It’s rude to interrupt people
- It’s offensive to express sexual attraction
- It’s bad to be angry or sad or confused
- It’s always good to be happy and calm and easy to manage
- Conflict is bad and harmony is good, all the time without exception
I never really believed in God, but I did have a sense that the universe had some sort of balance, some sort of fairness to it, that if I was good, I would get rewarded, and if I was bad, I’d be punished. Good people had better lives than bad people.
I even had really ridiculous specific beliefs like dancing is only for gay guys.
When I stepped back and looked at all of them, I realized most of this had not been tested. It seemed really intuitive, like “This must be true, it looks right.” But I’d never really tried to test it. I never really tried to break these beliefs and see what happened. So I listed them all out and I started testing them.
Breaking the rules
I talked to hundreds of strangers. I tried hobbies that I wasn’t supposed to try. I initiated and conducted confrontations and conflicts. I stood up for myself. I expressed my anger and other emotions more often.
I basically put everything I’d ever been told to the test. Guess what I found? It was all bullshit. Almost everything I’d been told to believe did not survive my testing.
It was all crap, total fucking crap.
And I really am angry as I talk about this because I want you to hear what I’m saying:
Most of what you believe is bullshit that’s been fed to you by somebody else who had it fed to them.
That’s why I call it inherited beliefs; it’s often passed down through the generations and has never been fucking true. There are so many things you believe, so many limiting beliefs that keep you in that childlike state and prevent you from experiencing mental puberty, from transitioning into a confident, responsible adult.
And it’s all crap.
Time to experience puberty
To begin your mental puberty, you need to start by listing all the beliefs and rules and principles that you follow that you have not tested or confirmed within the last five years. Anything that you’ve been doing for a long time or following for a long time without rocking the boat – without putting it to the test in a significant way.
How you interact with people. What you should be doing with your life and the kind of career and job you should have. The way you should treat your body. How you should structure your day. Where you should live.
All of it.
If any of those have not been significantly tested in the last five years , then they need to be put back on to the drawing board for another go.
Another step is to figure out your core values, which is an ongoing, lifetime piece of work, but it starts with getting a list together. The Brojo Core Values Course is free to the public. You’ll be able to come up with a list of all the values and principles you think you should be following, and be able to see how well you’re following them, where you got them from, and how legitimately genuine they are for you.
What does “good person” mean?
Another great exercise is to draft up a description of what you think it means to be a good person.
And once you’ve got every single bullet point you can think of listed down, cross out any of them that came from other people. Anything you were told was good by your parents, or your friends, or the media, or the church, or the society that you’re exposed to. Anything that was somebody else’s idea first, cross it off and see what you’re left with.
What are you left with that you decided on your own through repetitive life experience? What does it mean to be good in your eyes, minus all bullshit everybody else told you to believe in?
Once you’ve got this all sorted out, get out there and start testing it. I really want to emphasize something clearly to you here:
Most of the people surrounding you have no fucking clue what they’re doing with their life.
They do a lot of stuff, but they don’t know why or they have a reason but it’s made up – it’s somebody else’s reason. They just follow the rules that they were conditioned to believe since they were children.
They follow cultural principles or practices or religious virtues or what their parents think is right or what makes their friends give them approval, and then they tell you to live that way.
But they don’t have a fucking clue what they’re supposed to be doing. They shouldn’t be giving advice to anybody. Nobody can tell you how you should live, and if anyone does, you should treat them with suspicion. Keep them at a distance and be very skeptical. Because the only person who can figure that out is you.
And that is mental puberty.
I’d really love to hear thoughts on this one, so please comment below and let me know what you think about what you were raised to believe and where you are in the transition from child to adult psychologically.
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Thank you so much for reading. I’ll see you again next time.