Life is a balance. I like the three-legged stool analogy because it has the fewest number of legs that can cause a stool to be sturdy.
To name the legs of my life journey, I use the following:
We grow physically by eating well, exercising, sleeping, and doing other things to promote and keep our bodies healthy. This is natural in our culture.
We grow intellectually through formal schooling, parents' teachings, and other authorities.
However, it is unusual for us to grow emotionally without specific strategies and emotional discipline which is seldom taught. It is easy to learn typical strategies by accident as young children. When using these immature strategies, we stumble into actions that cause stress to temporarily subside in ourselves and others.
Here are a few emotional expressions I see employed:
· Avoidance or withdrawal.
· Anger or temper tantrums.
· Lying or denial
· Eating issues
· Substance abuse
· Excessive screen time
· Somatic complaints
These are mannerisms used to express frustration because the tools to express emotions constructively have not been learned. While this may provide short-term relief, it can lead to increased anxiety and missed opportunities for growth and learning.
I can relate to all of these as a young boy. This became a hazard, as I developed physically and intellectually, I held on to immature emotional behaviors. They may have served a purpose as a child, but emotionally mature adults are not expected to engage in these behaviors.
When I use the behaviors above as an adult, my three-legged stool will collapse, and I am dreadfully out of balance.
Have you seen adults throw temper tantrums? It is not pretty, nor is it effective.
If I haven't learned constructive behaviors to deal with stress as an adult, I will be unavailable in all relationships and a poor example for others. I am on the journey to build a more robust three-legged stool representing my life.
How about you? Is your three-legged stool balanced, or could you strengthen the leg of emotional maturity?
Watch for the blind spots.
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