3. Practice Differentiation -- Find Your Note (in relationship with others)
It is no secret that a key part of child development is for kids to differentiate from their parents. Particularly in the teen years. Some of this is about claiming difference. Some is stubbornness. Reactiveness. Some of it is messy. In the healthiest differentiation, underneath, I believe it is about creating enough distance to begin to birth one’s own self. A bit like finding a quiet space in which to strike a tuning fork, free of interfering noises. Physical distance. Emotional distance. Intellectual distance. It’s all part of it. The irony is that though this appears on the surface as separation, I believe it is more about finding one’s note that can then be offered to the musical score that is integrated adult life.
Some people relate to finding this note as listening for inner guidance or spiritual clarity. I relate to it as a gut feeling. It was my Mom who taught me most about this. As a younger boy, I would agonize over decisions. Whether the blue pants were better or the brown pants. Whether to ask this girl out or not. My Mom, quite patiently, would eventually ask me, “What do you feel in your gut?” I wouldn’t have known it back then, but I think my Mom was steering me towards a kind of early differentiation and an early expectation to look within, to hear my own tuning fork.
As I write this, my daughter is now nearing the end of her first semester of university classes. She started with an undeclared major, but with leanings to Journalism and English. She can decide that later. I love the ways that she is beginning to look beyond the familiar. Taking responsibility to notice what interests here. Humanities. Greek Mythology. Psychologyy. Offering herself to those she is learning with. And in her differentiation, finding things that she couldn’t have known earlier. Perhaps starting to feel the vibration of her own note.
Clear choice always serves well.
A Last Thought
Well, I loved the trip with my daughter. Truly. I loved the conversations with her. The laughing. The exploring. The memories that have immense shelf life. I loved feeling a kind of contribution to a shift in her attention, and mine, to these practices. Adult passage is a becoming. It has far less certainty and finality than what I would have imagined when I lived in Edmonton thirty years ago. It is so much more of a stepping further, in practice, into the complex and evolving human family that needs each of us as a community of contributors.
Adult stuff. Adult practice to help us find our way.
Tenneson Woolf is a TAO Blogger and facilitator, workshop leader, speaker, and writer. He works globally. He designs and lead meetings in participative formats. To help people be smart together. To get people interacting with each other — learning together, building relationships, and focused on projects. To get deeper to the heart of what matters. From strategic visioning with boards to large conference design. Living systems, self-organization, and emergence inspire his work. He resides in Lindon, Utah.
Tennenson can be found at Tenneson Woolf in both Twitter and Facebook.