What does it mean to be a grownup, emotionally healthy adult human being? To be happy and healthy and whole? Freud offered the opinion that psychologically healthy people are able to love and to work- simple enough, yes? But not granular enough for real skill development. On the other hand, much of the self-help industry addresses highly specific issues or manifestations of a lack of skill, without an overall framework for comprehensive skill development: a buffet without structure, rather than a food pyramid.
By looking at broad basic skill sets required for healthy adult functioning, and then by breaking down emotional skills into smaller bites, it’s easier to get at a full developmental profile. One can better assess where the growth edge is, and set a plan to get better at that aspect, through coursework, training, examples, techniques and practice. You can get a sort of emotional health check up, a look at your vital signs in each area.
Emotional and spiritual skills are like language skills in many ways-e.g, they can be learned, they come easier for some then others, and people learn them in different ways.
What, I thought, if we could have a grown up school that allowed self directed learning to fill in the gaps we never knew how to address, before it got to a crisis point? For example, if self care were the skill issue, you’d see it on your personal inquiry, before you got diabetes. If listening was the skill issue, you’d work on it before getting to marriage counseling. You wouldn’t get to age 35 and still be shattered over a break-up. You wouldn’t run from the truth of living outside your means.
Thus came this idea of “grownup school”, and a model for a complete skill set that we could work on. The more I looked healthy, optimized emotional skills in myself and others, where things cause pain, or send happiness or contentment tumbling, every skill rested easily on one of two dimensions: capacities on the spectrum of self and other, and capacities on the spectrum of freedom and restraint.