The last book I managed to read is “Everything is Fucked. A book about Hope.” written by famous blogger and writer Mark Manson. The book describes the need to detach ourselves from the abundant materialistic resources present in our modern world since they will never be able to provide us with the real happiness we’re craving for. All our technologies and personalized products are useless and what is really important instead, is peace, inner happiness and hope.
How to grow up
There is one chapter in this book called “The Formula of Humanity” which is popping up in my mind daily. I’m talking about a part of the book in which Manson describes how we grow up and how we become adults. According to the book, our different stages in life are determined by the main values we live according to. A child does things that give pleasure, for adolescents principles start to arise but when following a principle will cause pain, they will turn right back into the pleasure value. Being an adult means, according to Manson, that you truly value your own principles. You no longer do things to reach a certain result, doing things according to your principles is your result, your mail goal in life.
Manson describes how too many people today fail to reach adulthood, how we too often get stuck in a never-ending trade agreement in which everything we do is a means to some selfish end. According to Manson, “most of the people walking around in the world are shit-brained adolescents, or worse, a bunch of over-sized children.”
When I first read this part of the book, almost a year ago now, I believed that I was one of the few people that had been able to reach adulthood, even at a very young age. My parent’s abuse has never taught me to do things out of pleasure, since pleasure did not really exist and I only knew punishment by illogical pain. A year ago I believed that my parents abuse has brought me straight into adulthood and I even remember the pride I felt about the way I was when I thought of how well I am put together. But was I?
Manson states that children who are abused remain stuck inside their childhood value system as adults. They don’t learn to control their own behavior but instead only develop copings mechanisms. They fail to produce their higher values needed for adulthood. It is true that I never had a proper way to learn from pleasure and pain. I was instead punished on a daily basis, independent from what I did, and pleasure felt as random as the pain but just appeared less often. But did this trap me into childhood?
I don’t completely agree with Manson here. Although a lot of what I am today is an attempt to protect myself, I do not do what I do in life because I am searching for pleasure. Many things in my life I did not choose out of pleasure, nor out of pain, instead, I always tried to do what is best for me on long term, the things I believed where good, no matter what other people might think of this.
Being abused as a child taught me that there is more than just pain and pleasure. I learned how there is not one good, but instead many personal opinions on what’s good and what’s bad and this gave me the opportunity to find out what I want. I learned how sometimes it is better to be different, even when this causes pain because pain is not always true. I learned that pleasure is not always the right goal, how it can make you having to adjust constantly and because of this, pain can sometimes be the better option.
I won’t at all say that I am an adult in the way Manson describes adulthood. I mean, in too many ways I have been untrue to myself, I have created a fake personality that in no way represents the principles that fit me. However, I did truly commit to my fake idea of what life should be like, I completely let go of my impulses and desires and stayed true to what I believed was good for me.
Manson describes adulthood as the ability to endure pain, the courage to abandon hope, to let go of the desire for things to always be better or more pleasant or a ton of fun. Wasn’t this exactly what I excelled at? I had accepted my life to be a constant flat line, I didn’t expect things from other people and I certainly did not expect any kind of fun or pleasure. I decided I was going to be great at my job and that’s what I did. Not because of the money my boss would pay me every month, not because I expected it would give me something better in life. The reason I worked was because I loved my job, I love being an architect and this was the reason for everything I did for years.
False start into adulthood
So Mark, I believe you are wrong on this one. Not because I am a perfect adult, but because I believe that a bad childhood doesn’t make you unable to reach adulthood. Abused children can truly grow up, maybe even faster than the ones that had the perfect childhood since abused children learn to rely on themselves much more. The real problem is not remaining a grown-ass kid, it is what principles you take with you into adulthood.
My childhood didn’t prevent me from growing up, it most certainly did nog trap me into adolescence. Instead, it made me grow up too fast to figure out what I should believe in. Being forced into independency made me choose the wrong values, belonging to an untrue image of myself, but I did teach myself how to live according to these values. I did learn how to put principles over pleasure, what I do it not anymore affected by other people’s opinions or a fear of pain from following my own principles. The only problem is that fear and pain created the wrong values a long time ago.
I am now turning myself into a better person, but better doesn’t mean that I have to learn how to stick to my values, instead, I just have to change the values I’m familiar with. I have to rediscover what is good and what is bad, similar to a child’s pleasure-pain exploration phase, because my knowledge of right and wrong is too much influenced by my parent’s negativity towards me. However, this does not mean that I lack the ability to turn my new discoveries into new values or principles that determine my choices in life.
I have learned everything the hard way and I have made any mistakes while growing up, but these mistakes did not trap me in and endless childhood, I just got stuck in the wrong kind of adulthood. To refer to a table Manson used to describe different life phases, I can say that I definitely saw relationships as a vulnerability, but I realized this so well that I choose to never be in one. My self-worth was also strictly internally validated, what people would say about me didn’t matter, however, I made the mistake to stick to an extremely negative image of myself. And boy was I good in accepting my faith, I believed I deserved only bad and not once did I try to look for something better, accepting my feelings of loneliness and worthlessness every single day.
|VALUES||Pleasure/pain||Rules and roles||Virtues|
|SEES RELATIONSHIPS AS…||Power struggles||Performances||Vulnerability|
|SELF-WORTH||Narcissistic: wide swings between “I’m the best” and “I’m the worst”||Other-dependent: externally validated||Independent: largely internally validated|
|POLITICS||Extremist/nihilist||Pragmatic, ideological||Pragmatic, nonideological|
|IN ORDER TO GROW, HE/SHE NEEDS…||Trustworthy institution and dependable people||Courage to let go out outcomes and faith in unconditional acts||Consistent self-awareness|
What is changing now is that my values are changing for the good, but in the ability to stay true to these new values I can continue to do what I’m used to. I don’t have to grow up and learn how to put principles over pleasure, I just need to acknowledge that the pain that shaped my old values was untrue. Now I’m free to discover the true pleasures that should have determined my principles all along and start a new way of living according to these.