Concluding our David Richo summer, lets try to tie this all together. I did not set out to spend the summer blogging on How to be an Adult in Relationships. This little book is so jam packed with insights, wisdom and practical suggestions that I kept finding myself wanting to share just a little bit more with you. This ended up turning into an entire season. I hope you have found it meaningful as you continue to do the work of leaning in towards psychological adulthood. Making it to chronological adulthood is only part of the journey. For the vast majority of us, there is still much work to be done. It behooves us to search inside of ourselves for the blocks and impasses that prevent us from being the very best version of ourselves and the best partners we can be. We can then use that insight to embark on a personal growth journey. So let’s see if we can pull this together into a coherent synthesis of all the ground we covered over these past weeks and months.
As a child, we needed the five A’s (attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and allowing) to consolidate a healthy and functional ego. Good enough parenting lays down the foundation for an integrated personality and ego. However, many of us did not grow up in families or environments that were equipped to give us the five A’s in sufficient and consistent quantities. These deficits contribute to the mindsets of a nuerotic ego (fear, desire, judgement, control and illusion). We can choose to be intentional in practicing and strengthening the five A’s, which will work to erode the workings of the neurotic ego. Some of these practices include mindfulness meditation, letting go of the need to control, tending to the needs of both self and others, accepting feedback from others, making amends, and changing behavior when doing so is warranted.
We also took a look at the conditions of existence, which include the reality that things change and end, life is not always fair, pain is part of life, things do not always go according to plan and people are not always loyal or loving. It is possible to say “yes” to the givens of life by applying the five A’s to the conditions of existence. When we do so, we are operating from the functional rather than neurotic ego. Finally, we took an ego audit, delving into the ways in which the neurotic and functional ego gets expressed in different circumstances, situations and in relationships. The entirety of Richo’s book is really about moving the dial towards a more functional and healthy ego. It is our life’s work, and if we cooperate with the opportunities for growth that present themselves, we will reap immeasurable dividends.
Until next time, peace.