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Life Arts    H4'ed 1/26/10

Human Adulthood Part Two: Rejection of the Challenge

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We're building a seventeen-part structure for self-coaching and self-exploration, with an end toward becoming responsible, awakened adult human beings. The first ten steps of this structure originate in Joseph Campbell's famed "Hero's Journey" The second part of the Hero's Journey is called the "rejection of the challenge." What this means is that you are aware of a change that needs to take place, are aware that it would move you to the next level of your life, or alleviate serious concerns, but cannot motivate yourself to do it. In the original "Star Wars" this was the "I can't go with you, Obi-Wan: I promised Uncle Owen I'd fix the moisture evaporators" moment. When it comes to the task of actually growing up, becoming an adult, this is usually the result of either fear or lack of clarity. In other words, if you know that a particular action or commitment will make a positive change in your life, and that change is, logically, stronger than the amount of pain associated with it, then you have to ask: why don't you do it?

Well, the truth is that if you are clear enough on the benefit, and believe that you can actually accomplish it, the only thing that will stop you is fear.

There are three basic arenas in which maturation can be measured.

1) Career. Are you self-supporting?

2) Body. Do you have a body that sustains you with health and energy? That You yourself would find attractive?

3) Relationships. Can you attract and hold a mature sexual/romantic partner? Do you love yourself? Are you responsible for your own emotions?

Journaling and introspection can be critical factors in maintaining clarity and dealing with fear as it arises. And trust me: if you try to change any basic aspect of your life, an aspect that would move you to another level of your life, fear will be the guardian at the gate. There are many powerful ways to deal with fear, but here's a simple one:

1) Visualize a glass tube filled with water.

2) Imagine glitter swirling in the water.

3) Watch the tube quietly, until the glitter settles to the bottom.

Do this, and you will arrive at a state of clarity in which your fear can be seen for what it is: a mental storm which can be observed without participation or control. "I am afraid" is an observation, a fact. "I'm scared!" said with a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach, followed by an avalanche of interpretations (fear means I can't do it! Fear means I'm a coward! Fear means I am weak! Etc.) will cripple you.

Vow to see and note your emotions rather than be dominated by them, and you are on the path to control. And emotional control, the ability to choose the appropriate behavior regardless of momentary "feelings", is an important signpost on the road to maturation. A child does what is fun. An adult does what is necessary. If you don't grasp the difference, you will live your entire life in an immature state, being controlled by people who have accepted the responsibilities and powers of adulthood.

The choice is yours. Here are more questions to ask in connection with the emotion of fear:

1) What three benefits will this action give my life?

2) How will it impact my energy and health?

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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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