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Life Arts    H4'ed 12/8/09

Human Adulthood Part III--Acceptance of Responsibility

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The third step of our seventeen-part view of the adult human being is the step of Campbell's "Hero's Journey" referred to as "Acceptance of the Challenge." If one has become aware of the need to mature, and dealt with the fears and conflicting emotions involved, then the journey begins.

And this step is critical in becoming the mature men and women who can actually bring their dreams and realities into healthful alignment. Acceptance of responsibility is the dividing line between childhood and adulthood. We acknowledge our circumstances and upbringing, but no longer allow ourselves to be limited by them. We are sufficiently introspective to examine our programming, and decide how much of said programming is actually the sort of life lessons we would have chosen for ourselves, or those we love.

We are not our actions. We are not our histories. Nor are we our feelings, or the voices in our heads. But all of these things help to define us, and must be dealt with if we are to find fulfillment in life.

Children constantly blame others for what they feel and do. Adults must take another road. "You make me feel X" is a common comment, whether X is positive or negative. While in intimate friendships or even more casual relationships we agree to take some responsibility for how our actions impact others, we also know that these words are often a manipulation, are attempts to induce guilt, blame, or shame. And autonomous adult human beings must move beyond giving others the power to pull our heartstrings or the responsibility to save us from our own lives. Must rise all the way to independence and clarity, to saying "If it's to be, it's up to me" and decide that we will bring our dreams into focus and then into reality, whatever the cost might be.

As children, we wait for others to bring us comfort, support, nourishment. As adults, we have to realize that there is no White Knight is coming to rescue us, and even more importantly that life is not a dress rehearsal.

The minute you realize these things, the minute you grasp that the adult aspect of your personality must step up, must "put away childish things" or you will be forever denied your hopes and full potential...the minute you decide that you have simply had enough of the old you, the old way of being, and are prepared to stake your existence on becoming a fully realized adult human being...

At that moment your journey begins, really begins. And not before.

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Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, personal performance coach, and martial artist. He has lectured on creativity and human consciousness at UCLA, Mensa, and the Smithsonian Institute. Steve created the Lifewriting system of (more...)

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