One of the most basic aspects of “growing up” is being able to be motivated more by love than by fear. A life more and more based on love and not on fear is not without pain. I think fear keeps us in “stuck pain” and love motivates us to experience “growing pain” when that is necessary.
The Past of love, that for which we as mammals are hard-wired, is attachment love. It is the love of parents for children that has enabled the human race to survive.
The Present of love is most easily seen in the love between healthy, happy couples. This is the adult form of attachment love. At its best, it provides a secure base and safe haven for partners as well as for their children. However, this love can only be achieved from an adult state. When we operate from an Adapted Child state, we cannot be a safe haven for others.
The Future of love is in community, a sense of caring about “all of us”. It includes the lessons learned from successful couple love and transcends the limitations of couple love. It means extending love beyond the boundaries of couplehood while respecting these boundaries as well.
The Adapted Child, or survival, ego state is driven primarily by fear. There are different levels at which this fear operates. There can be fear of physical survival, not usually an issue in most of our lives. There can be fear of the unknown or the “different”. We can be afraid of not “fitting in,” being socially unacceptable. We can be afraid of losing support from, or connection with, others. We can be afraid of being seen as “less than” others, or of being shamed.
The Adapted Child state also tends to be able to see only two options – either you OR me, either us OR them, either right OR wrong, good OR bad – you get the point. For this reason, all conflicts are viewed as “win/lose.” It is very difficult to value and respect both myself AND others when I see everything in these terms. Others’ wants, needs and ideas appear to be in competition with mine. Fear can easily kick in – fear that, if they get what they want (win), I will, of course, lose; fear that, if they are “right”, I will be wrong. And on it goes!
So why bother growing any further? If we have got this far, we have figured out how to survive at least reasonably well in our culture and society. To get this far is both a blessing and a curse. It is important to figure out how to survive reasonably well. Without our basic survival needs being met, we can’t even think about going further.
The curse part comes about because surviving reasonably well is a source of great comfort. Comfortable people do not, as a rule, change and grow. They don’t see any reason to change and grow. So what motivates a person to grow when they are comfortable. The answer, unfortunately, is usually PAIN! And, survival existence, sooner or later, generates pain. Fortunately, it is the kind of pain that the application of more survival skills usually won’t cure.