The Individual, Mental Health, and Maturity
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Thomas Franklin is new (11-17) to He has no experience with being published as an author. He has a fondness for reading and an appreciation of words. His curiosity is insatiable. He carries the burdens of his youth like Marley dragging his chains of bad deeds. The difference is that Marley's burdens were a result of his behavior. Life just happened to Mr. Franklin. These life burdens shall be the topic of Mr. Franklin's writing. Be kind for he is quite sensitive.

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The Individual, Mental Health, and Maturity

Previous posts have explored my personal mental health from both nature and nurture.  Clearly it is difficult to sort out cause and effect.  How might we look at any adult and determine cause of poor behavior?  Individual humans throw a curve ball at stereotypes.  We do not know why two soldiers experiencing the same trauma have different reactions.  Following the notion that mental health is not all or nothing but rather exists in a continuum we might say one soldier suffers from PTSD while another with the same experience does not require medical attention.   With that said I continue to use myself at the model for exploring nature and nurture.  I believe an additional leg on the mental health stool is one of individual maturity. And on that note I have failed miserably.

Here is a definition I like for Emotional Maturity From:

Emotional maturity is defined as how well you are able to respond to situations, control your emotions and behave in an adult manner when dealing with others.
     What are some attributes of an emotionally mature person?  Here are some thoughts:
  1. Accept criticism gratefully, being honestly glad for an opportunity to improve yourself
  2. Do not indulge in self-pity.  Begin to feel the laws of compensation operating in all facets of your life.
  3. Do not expect special consideration from anyone. Control your temper.
  4. Meet emergencies with poise.
  5. Does not have feelings easily hurt.
  6. Accept responsibility for your own actions.
  7. Outgrow the ‘all or nothing’ stage.
  8. Learn to recognize that no person or situation is wholly good or bad, and begin to appreciate the Golden Mean.
  9. Be patient at reasonable delays.  Learn that you are not the arbitrator of the universe and that you must often adjust yourself to the other people and their convenience.
  10. Be a good loser.  Endure defeat and disappointment without whining or complaining to others or yourself.
  11. Do not worry about things you cannot help.
  12. Do not give yourself to boasting or ‘showing off’ in socially unacceptable, vile, annoying, or unwelcome ways.
  13. Be honestly glad when others enjoy success or good fortune.  It is time to outgrow envy and jealousy.
  14. Listen thoughtfully to the opinion of others.  Be open minded.  Do not become argumentative when your views are opposed.
  15. Do not be a chronic ‘fault finder’.
  16. Plan things in advance rather than trusting to the inspiration of the moment.
      Personally I think my emotional growth went off track when I was about three years old.  I am serious, something happened.  I was the third son out of seven children.  My next younger brother was born two weeks before I turned three.  Again – how might we assign cause and effect?  We can only speculate.
     When I was three years old I made some choices.  I acted on those choices.  The people around me responded to my actions.  Thus I either grew emotionally or my emotional maturity was skewed.  Is that a safe assumption?  When I was five years old another baby came into our home.  I believe today that these are significant emotional events that leave lasting impressions on our emotional self.  This is not a value judgement – just an observation.
     I entered school and walked everyday with my two older brothers to school.  Those were happy days for me.  I remember details of my elementary education.  Kindergarten through fourth grade saw me as a very happy student (for the most part).  I remember reading all of the Hardy Boys mysteries when I was in third grade.
     At home more children came along.  We lived in a four room house but I don’t remember that as being difficult or unfair.   I do remember being angry.  Perhaps as young as five years old.  My father had two jobs and was only home every other evening.  I remember following him around the house one evening crying for him to pick me up.  I was four or five years old.  He made a game out of it but I just remember being frustrated and hurt. Can one assign blame?  I think not in this case.  That is the difficulty with cause and effect.  It is not the same for every individual – we can only speak in the aggregate about people.  Individuals escape the aggregate boundaries.  Every person has likely been an “outlier” in their own life.  The point is that psychological study breaks down at the level of the individual.  We understand trauma on the human psyche.  But we do not have good understanding of why one goes left while the other goes right.  I must say there are psychologists who believe they have all the answers.  I am not ready to accept their findings.
     I know this about me.  I am different than my brothers.  Some of that difference is positive and some is negative.  I sometimes see immaturity in one of my adult brothers – I am talking men in their fifties or sixties.  I also see signs of maturity.  It is not all or nothing.  Understanding that it is not all or nothing is an element of maturity in itself.
     Maturity is also three dimensional, it has depth and breadth and height.  One might be a mature employee and an immature spouse.  I knew a Doctor who was the greatest surgeon of his time – he was married four times.  Mature in his work, immature in relationships.  I have been like that, excelling in some endeavors and failing miserably at family life.
     Many of my life choices come from the nurturing environment of too many people in a small living arrangement.  Each of us unwittingly jockeyed for position, testing behaviors to see which was most profitable.  Anger has been a tool all of my life.  Much of my life was self focused, self centered, and just selfish.  I now have a mental health diagnosis.  Ii it a product of nature or nurture?
     So we thus add a component to our attempts to understand self.  I believe maturity is a consequence of life experience – and how we choose to interpret life.  Our choices are met with reaction from the world around us and we grow toward the light – and not all light is good.  Anger is a good example of immaturity and how it grows unmolested.  I believe that my young self acted out, using anger, and it was just easier for my mother and brothers to appease me rather than take the time to nurture me.  These were not conscious actions by my family.  We lived in cramped quarters stressed by a tight financial budget and little time for nurturing.  I mentioned my father worked two jobs.  Well, my mother had a ringer washer, a gas stove, a refrigerator, no freezer, no microwave, a percolator coffee pot, no clothes dryer, no dishwasher – and she did all of her chores with too many children under foot.
     Neither of my parents ever complained to us children about our living arrangement.  They did not dwell in self-pity.  I don’t remember any envy of others who had more.  These demons did not exist in the light of day, rather they stayed just below the surface, agitating and aggravating and never revealing themselves as the culprit.
     Human life is complex. We have fields of study in biology and psychology and economics and the humanities.  Authors have searched Great Expectations and Ivanhoe and Les Miserables trying to capture or understand the human condition.
     As I look at my own life I can assert there are three equal components to my present state:  Nature, nurture, and individual life choices along the way.  Each of my siblings is different from the others.  We are individuals who share nature and nurture – but we remain individuals.

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