Developmental Psychology, Psychology, Social Psychology

Part 1 : How to be an Adult? – Steps to develop a Signature Presence

Adulting is a process of constructive development of self. This is beyond buying furniture, having a health insurance or quitting smoking (that was stupid to start with!).

Adulting is learning how to mature socially and engage with the world in a way that promotes positive development, and helps you achieve your true purpose.

Introduction of this series set us on a journey to recognise that adulthood does not just happen with age but it is a conscious effort, and the first step is development of ‘self’. Developmental psychologist Robert Kegan in his famous book The Evolving Self highlights a beautiful relationship between individual self and the environment, or what he refers to as, the social. He explains how constructive development of the self lies not in being constantly distinctive from the social but in fluidly evolving into patterns with the surroundings that are more ‘meaning-making’. While Kegan has psycho-analyzed the stages of social maturity, our ability of becoming this fluid, evolving, meaning-making adults, starts with the ability of practising our Signature Presence.

Presence is a state of inner spaciousness – Eckhart Tolle

When a child grows up, it usually mirrors the environment that it comes from. We are mostly devoid of absolutely independent sense of self because what we think, believe in, or even feel is dependent on how we think others experience us. On the other hand, a high-performing adult has a sense of self that is truly independent. We experience this transformation in our daily lives in small forms too. For example, a book that you read as a child and if you read that today would make you experience it totally differently. This movement from dependent self towards an independent self is the transformation from I AM (subject) to I HAVE (object). This is a critical component of becoming a high-performing adult.

I AM a hindu.

I HAVE hindu beliefs.

The difference between the concept of I AM and that of I HAVE lies in how you perceive new information as an adult. Self-concepts of I AM put you in the centre of everything you learn, focussing on your assumptions of how the world works, your emotions, your behaviours, etc. It limits your ability to question or analyse what you receive. When you detach yourself from these self-concepts, you reflect, engage and connect with something other than yourself. This reflective self is the first step towards social maturity. Once you create this ‘objective’ space within yourself, it paves way to discovering your authentic self or your Signature Presence!

Structures of which we are unaware hold us prisoner – Peter Senge

Answer these 3 Questions to discover your Signature Presence –

  1. What is your Identity?
  2. What is your Purpose?
  3. What are you Actions?

Identity formation starts with reflecting on your true self. Your true self constitutes of habits and behaviours that bring joy to you. It is also signifying of how other people experience you. The ultimate goal of adulthood is to develop and nurture the best within us. To find happiness in life is to live in harmony with your true self. Also, identity is never ‘final’ and it continues to develop throughout one’s lifespan. Knowing and developing ones’s identity makes them accurately happier and less anxious.

Choosing the purpose of your life is a decision you make based on your capabilities and interests. It is a conscious choice that you make towards substantial success in life by doing things that are compatible to your talents and skills (or authentic self). To choose a purpose not related to your potential or identity is a recipe for frustration and failure.

Once you form your identity and have chosen your purpose, your actions towards achieving those goals will define your Signature Presence. Those actions will give you joy and bring the calmness with which you can focus on truly becoming!

Becoming is superior than Being – Paul Klee

In Part 2 we will review strategies on how to build strong and meaningful relationships as a high-performing adult.

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