Friday, March 14, 2014

From Clique to Community

I have a fan or Erikson's stages of psycho-social development, and I add my own observations to it.  What I have seen is that most young people, teens and some young adults have their core connection with a group of friends.  They are in a stage of identity vs isolation according to Erikson, I have seen that in creating an identity, the focus is on a core group of friends and peers.  They find there closest relationships are the circle of friends they have  These close relationships become primary, often even more than their family.  They are more concerned with the group of friends than anything else, and they are relatively short sighted when dealing with others.

As young adults grow and mature, they move from this concentration to this miniature community and begin to focus on the community as a whole.  Erikson looks at the intimacy issues, vs isolation as young adults begin to find their primary relationship with a spouse.  This focus, however, often moves them to a community mindedness that increases when children come along.  They are still primarily concerned with a small cluster, usually family but their concern begins to broaden.  The world becomes larger, from the social circle to the community where they live and work. It's at this stage that many who grew up in church and then left, then return to the church.  They begin to get involved in organizations like Parent/Teacher Organization.

As people make this shift, they move from a focus of immediate gratification and needs that are immediate.  As the transition is made, we move to think more long term, looking for long term goals and gratification.  This is necessary as we build a career, a family, look forward to the future, to kids growing up and to retirement.  It's needed to have a healthy adulthood to move from this immediate focus in our small social circle to moving to a long term thought process in a community minded lifestyle.

The problem happens when a stress or traumatic even happens in the teen years.  Often this trauma call trap someone from moving forward into the next level of development.  Sometimes people become stuck in this stage, and never have the ability to think at a larger community level and think long term.  These people are always looking for immediate gratification and have trouble thinking about the future.  They never emotionally mature beyond the level of teenager.  They are concerned with the immediate, with having enjoyment in the moment and lack much of the ability to see beyond the short term.

This causes all types of issues, the inability to build a successful career, to have healthy long term relationships, save money or prepare of the future.  It is becoming more and more common for people to seek immediate gratification and find themselves in debt they can't pay, no insurance, career or retirement.  Relationships are always short term and these people go from relationship to relationship, unable to maintain any healthy, long term relationships.

If this is you or someone you care about, there is hope.  First, we need to identify the trauma or experiences that trapped the person in the emotional adolescence.  Once that trauma or experiences are identified, there needs to be some counseling, some restoration, and a healthy forward movement.  It will take time and patience and help.  Dealing with those emotional roadblocks will enable the person begin to move forward and  heal.  Once this is resolved, healthy emotional development can begin renewed.

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