How To Be An Adult/Shadow Dance face off ~ You Come Too

Like James Corden & Neil Patrick Harris doing a riff-off of Broadway tunes to determine the best Tony host of all time, am doing a face-off between the two David Richo books vying to get onto my list of book mentors.  This first post features stand-out bits from How To Be An Adult (1991).  Let the face-off begin!

We bring our ego into a functional whole through psychological work.  This work leads to insight and, when we are ready for it, to change.

We can trust that we will see only what we are ready to face. 

A loving balance between psyche & circumstances let us know our work only when we have the power to do it.

By psychological work, we are changed.  By spiritual work, we are revealed.

Move with a powerful ego (able to handle both fear & desire) to a transcendence of ego that makes us unconditionally loving.

Circumstance & crises help us advance on our path, as long as we integrate them rather than interrupting them.

Our task is to let go & hold on at the same time.

Our effortful steps are advanced by an effortless shift…  (It) defines the truly heroic – putting out the effort to live through pain & to be spontaneously transformed by doing so.

Our problem is not that as children our needs were unmet, but that as adults they are still unmourned.

Neediness itself tells us nothing about how much we need from others;  it tells us how much we need to grieve the irrevocably barren past & evoke our own inner resouces of nurturance.

The love & pain of the past are directly connected to the love & pain of the present.  A relationship can put us in the best possible position to do personal work.  Our partner stimulates the love & pain and then – optimally – supports us in healthy responses to them.

The past is grieved fully only when the present is healed, too.  The energy one tied up in past hurts has finally become available for reinvestment in new ways of living.

The true healing power of griefwork extends to the past -and- present.  Each issue to be grieved addresses these two areas of concern: the loss or neglected experienced in the past -and- the lifetime habit that may have sprung from the original hurt.

Allow hurtful events from the past to become neutral facts by fully grieving the pain & so letting go of them.

As grief is processed, new levels of realization about the loss continually appear.  In this sense, grief is truly a lifelong work.

Grieve the irretrievable aspect of what we lost, the irreplacable aspect of what we missed.  We finally stand clear of the insatiable need to get whatever from parents (and/or family).

Transform emptiness into capacity.

Our psychological work is to journey from the chaos of our personal unconscious to a coherent conscious integration.

Be informed by others behavior rather than affected by it.

Assertive people simply ask, without inhibition of themselves or pressure on others.

Helpful Principles…

  • Show real feeling
  • Give & receive openly
  • Ask for things directly
  • Tell your real opinions or keep them to yourself
  • Take care of your own interests
  • Say NO to what you do not want
  • Act as if you deserve abundance
  • Admit mistakes, offenses & oversights & make amends.

Acting respons-ably always leads to the revelation of our next best step.

What we are not changing, we are choosing.

The experience of choice combined with support from others offers the best conditions for departure from the depressing sense of being a victim.  Instead, you get on with life in a powerful, adult & confident way.

There are three ways that rationalization maintain fear…

  1. The “reason” is meant to keep us in control by “protecting” us from surprises.
  2. The “reason” blockades access to adult solutions – all defenses are up to protect long-held (often since pre-verbal days) beliefs that are utterly off base.
  3. The “reason” directly maintains the inertia of fear, since we go on fearing what we refuse to confront.

When change & growth are frightening, still choose them.  Act with fear, never because of it.

Overcome the urge to retreat on the brink of discovery.

Wholehearted engagement with circumstances releases irrepressible liveliness.

In a healthy person, loyalty has its limits and unconditional love can co-exist with conditional involvement.

Practice shrewd fondness – “I love you unconditionally & I take care of myself by not hanging out with you.”

Stay in touch & intact!

Maintain a bottom line, a limit to how many times you will allow someone to say no, lie, disappoint, or betray you before you will admit the painful reality & move onto mutual work or separate tables.

Allow every feeling & thought to pass through us as good hikers through the woods – taking nothing, leaving nothing behind.

With true change, we increase the positives & decrease the negatives.


Wholeness is completeness, not perfection.  (Jung)

It doesn’t matter how much a person wants to identify/address/resolve core issues if s/he is living in an environment that won’t or can’t allow it.

We expend effort & then grace takes over.

The ego’s ultimate work is to create enough sane ground so that the Self can grow its single unperishable Rose that lives by light.

We move ourselves an we are moved onward as a rider spurs a horse & is moved in the direction the horse is going.

What wounds can also sanitize us.

We need all of our life experiences to become as emotionally & spiritually rich as we are.

You can interpret your journey -or- advance it.

The starting point of our love for others is our sane & fearless love for ourselves.  

We love ourselves by showing our feelings, by being tender toward the places in ourselves that we do not like or that scare us, and by not staying in abusive relationships or circumstances, but move onto horizons that offer nurturance & that honor our deep lovability.

Against all odds we go on loving, making a door of every gaping hole. 

We are given the capacity to take what fate chooses for us & to make a choice of love in return.








Author: auntdeev

playfulness coach, life enthusiast & general instigator, ENTJ, cat lover

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