Archive for category The G.R.O.W. Approach

Maturity is…

MATURITY

To be mature is to be personally, and not merely physically, grown up.  Maturity is the stability and resourcefulness of one whose personal growth measures up to the demands of life.

Now, life is the complex and necessary endeavour of human beings to master material nature and to form under God a whole community developing towards happiness – and to do this against the disruptive influence of irrational forces, competitive, self-interest and sectional social interests.

Personal maturity, therefore – the accomplishment of a person who has responded consistently to life’s call for integration and wholeness – will have certain basic characteristics and will be built on  certain  very definite foundations.

Since life is complex and we are endowed with reason or intellect to cope with it, the first requisite of personal maturity is sure to be understanding.

Next, since life involves he needs and feelings of those about me, and of countless of other human beings besides myself, together with the opportunities for fulfillment which social organisation confers upon us, there is, in the making of personal maturity, no substitute for genuine love and for personal involvement in an order of love.

Finally, since life is a daily confrontation with real and threatening evils which oblige us, while struggling for its more important benefits, to seek our fundamental happiness in its enduring values, there is no access to mature living without personal or spiritual strength.

Maturity is Threefold and Fivefold

Personal maturity, therefore, involves simultaneously a person’s mind, heart and character.

Through understanding, maturity is an expansion or growth of the mind.

Through love, maturity is a perfection of the heart. The emotionally mature person has an educated heart – an acquisition which as such is unrelated to formal schooling or academic attainment.

Through personal or spiritual strength, maturity is the emergence and positive affirmation of character.

Development of mind, heart and character all go together.  For example, an objective understanding of life needs love, which alone gives the appreciation and compassion necessary for an understanding of persons.

Love, for its part, requires knowledge and understanding and love is only sensitive in proportion to the subtlety of a person’s discernment.

Love also provides the motivation necessary for the formation of character, just as understanding clarifies the goals and the means that are vital in this formation.

Moreover, without strength of character love easily degenerates into a corrupt indulgence of feelings and nothing tends more than this does to cloud and distort a person’s understanding of life.

Now, if character is synonymous with spiritual strength, this overall spiritual strength is the fruit of particular spiritual strengths acquired through consistently healthy action in various aspects of living.  These habitual strengths have traditionally been called virtues (virtus = strength).  They can be acquired – as the old maxim explains: “Sow an act and reap a habit, sow a habit and reap a character.”

The acquired habits or virtues that go to make up mental health or personal maturity are almost innumerable.  We could talk of patience, kindness, truthfulness, prudence, generosity, chastity, sobriety, courage and so on.  But in one way or another they all come under the three great headings which we are using – they would be habits that make for a true mind, a loving heart and a strong character.

Character itself is obviously the whole person under the aspect of his or her strength, consistency or integrity in doing and enduring.  However, on analysis, it can be seen to involve three complementary or component strengths, viz. acceptance, confidence and control.

The strength to accept calmly our providential share in the distribution of natural gifts and limitations and of circumstantial blessings and burdens, and to endure with equanimity the evils of life which we cannot change, is called Acceptance.

The strength to emphasise consistently in ourselves and in others what is good, to live above evils and not to be bluffed or disheartened by them, to change things for the better where we can and to anticipate and work for the victory of life and love and happiness, is called Confidence.

The strength to discipline our feelings, so as to establish and keep order in the part of life that is entrusted to us, and not to be led by desire or fear to betray love, is called Control.

At the same time, it is clear that the animating principles of character are always understanding and love.

It seems, therefore, that in these five great virtues, personal strengths or resources – understanding and love, acceptance, confidence and control – we have the principal attitudes by which a person manages to face life successfully as a whole.

Readings for mental health Vol.1 G.R.O.W. (International), A.C.T. Australia

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Suicide Is Not The Answer

Step six of G.R.O.W.’s 12 Steps to Recovery is We Endured Until Cured.

In their Readings For Mental Health the question is asked ‘Thinking of Killing Yourself?’  If you are seriously considering this step, it is safe to say that right now you are feeling angry, helpless, full of self-loathing and a sense of permanent defeat.

You may be telling yourself that suicide, the permanent removal of yourself from the world and your problems, is the only possible course of action…THIS IS ABSOLUTE NONSENSE!  Suicide is completely unnecessary despite your terrible feelings.

They go on to say that even though you are now at a dead end where death or outright insanity seem the most likely ways in which your life may be changed, you have a third alternative, which is to change yourself. If you are feeling this bad, there is something in the way you are living, or in the way you think about yourself, your values or goals, which is very much mistaken. You will have to change, as it is beyond anyone’s power, however, to change the people around them.  It is in your power, however, to change your relationships with others and to modify your life so as to be more in tune to reality, the reality of ordinary living.

Why Do You Feel So Bad About Yourself?

Do you feel yourself to be unlovable?  Are you involved in a deteriorating relationship?  Does someone you love fail to love you?  Are you someone’s doormat?  Or are you always doing things that you feel bad about?  Are you trying to live up to some impossible standards?  Do you think to yourself, ‘If I can’t be the person I ought to be, then I have no right to exist at all.’?  Or perhaps you have cut yourself off from people until your life has become a desert and your insides are full of madness – whatever your problems, the change that leads toward life and eventually good feelings and actions, will not be easy or without a price.  The change will entail the sacrifice of some of your most dearly held hang-ups. You will probably need a humbler idea of what you can and should do and you need friendship, someone with whom you can share your burden, a close friend, a group, a professional counsellor or all of these.

Is Changing Worth The Effort?  Is Life Worth Living?

Of course it is.  If you are living under a self-imposed death sentence, you are only existing; your most basic self is telling you that life, as you are living now, is intolerable and you must do something about it.  YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE, you have a right to be healed of your hurt and to learn to become whole.  Whatever your view of afterlife, if you kill yourself, the game is over and you have lost.  You have lost the sunshine coming through the trees, children laughing, the healing caress of a friend and you have lost your chance to understand yourself realistically without fear or hate.  Though you may not have any extraordinary talent or power, you still have positive value to others, your place is unique, there never has been and never again will be another just like you.

Even if your life seems meaningless to you, you are in no position to understand the meaning of your life and it may be far different from what you believe.  You have been given the gift of life…bitter or sweet, it is precious. Don’t squander it in anger or self-pity.   If you will accept the blackness you now feel as a challenge to grow, and endure it while you re-evaluate yourself and your life, you will find your future far better than anything you have ever known.

Maureen McKenna 2010

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What is G.R.O.W.?

Group Recovery of the World    A Mental Health Movement

GROW is concerned about a person’s mental health and emotional maturity.  It is an international community mental health movement which began in Sydney, Australia in April, 1957 when a number of former mental patients, who had discovered the enormous benefit of organised mutual help while attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, began to meet on their own to work more directly on their problems of rehabilitation after mental breakdown. The keynote of their growth was the maximum use of each one’s personal resources; the animating principle of the groups was friendship and friendly help; and the foremost common aim was realistic understanding – understanding of what mental health is, how to get it (or regain it after losing it) and how to keep it. They followed the 12 Steps of Personal Growth and the first step is:  We admitted that we were inadequate or maladjusted to life.

Growers use the word maladjusted, not in a superficial sense of ‘maladjusted to society’, for they believe that it is far too obvious that society itself is seriously maladjusted and they have learned the painful consequences for mental health of mere conformity to the will of others. They acknowledge maladjustment in a deeper sense, meaning ‘maladjusted to life’.  This can be understood to mean mentally and/or socially and/or spiritually out of tune with reality.  The admission of personal maladjustment does not settle whether I have brought my trouble on myself or other causes have inflicted it on me.  I could be either in the wrong or sick or both at once.  But in any case, it does indicate some established and serious disorder.

Growers claim that inadequate expresses their inability to establish right order of healthy living.  Moreover, since life is a dynamic process and everybody is either growing or declining, inadequacy which has not been promptly remedied is already the beginning of disorder and the seed of eventually serious maladjustment. GROW deals with prevention as well as rehabilitation.

To be effective in prevention it is necessary to help people before they reach the point of grave disorder in their minds and lives.  There are many stages of decline before a serious disorder becomes manifest.

GROW believes that no one is a ‘no-hoper’. By a word you can torment someone with the worst side of themselves and because of their past you can rob them of their future.  Your rejection of them stirs up something in them to make them reject you also, by sheer rejection.  Because you down-grade them and give them nothing to live up to, they will probably set about living down to where you put them.  If a person has lost all true self-esteem and has only injured pride left, s/he will lash back with that.  GROW believes that when all else is gone, the instinct for self preservation is still a good instinct to build on.  For there is something vital, something good, something capable of responding to friendship and to grace, at the heart of even the most disordered and depraved person.  Friendly optimism is more contagious in the long run than despair and disparagement.

A person stops trying when they stop hoping.

THE WILL TO GET WELL

In order to get well we must have the will to get well. Most maladjusted people would like very much to get well again.  Many are also fully aware that they have to change in order to grow to fully responsible living and mental health; but unless we are willing to change, then we will remain unhappy forever.

Find a GROW group you feel comfortable in and you will find people who accept you as you are, who are supportive and encouraging and most of all, it doesn’t cost anything!

M.McKenna 2010

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