Unit 3 – Your past shapes your present. Is your present good enough to shape your future?
A Strict Sequence
(Chapter 3, pp 24)
When a Sense of Self (SoS) starts to develop in a person, and that starts right at birth, it follows a particular pattern with particular input at particular times. Children who do not get what they need at the right time grow up locked into compensations that are self-destructive and that cause all kinds of suffering and problems.
Before we explore the natural, healthy process of how a person ought to grow up and compare it with what happens when that process is distorted in one or more ways, here are some thoughts about growth processes in nature.
Every infant, seedling, or animal goes through a formation process. Even after it has sprouted or been born, its anatomical and functional systems are still forming. This process follows a strict sequence that is pretty much predetermined by nature and, as a whole, is also being influenced by the interaction between nature and nurture.
The genes of each living being are its “nature” aspect. The circumstances in which the being exists are its “nurture” aspect. These two influence each other, such that genes or circumstances may reinforce the growth and development of a plant or animal in one direction or another. Some processes need to take place before others can. If some bit of a living being’s physiology does not develop fully and appropriately at its given time—its “critical period”—the clock marches on anyway. When this critical time passes, the being is abnormal in some way, unable to live up to its full (initial) potential.
As it is with plants and animals, so it is for people. So much of who we are as people, and how our lives unfold, is initiated in our childhood. So let us take a brief look at what happens in childhood.
Human development follows certain natural rules and certain patterns; for example, we crawl before we walk; we walk before we run; we babble before we talk. Another important but often overlooked rule is that certain kinds of input are required at certain times in the sequence for the development to occur as it is meant to. If the right input happens at the right time in the sequence, a child’s development is normal and healthy.
If a child does not experience the correct conditions, it will grow in an unnatural and defective manner. For example, an infant, during this process of formation, needs various kinds of physical environmental inputs, such as adequate food, water, and warmth, as well as specific interpersonal, psychological, and emotional input. These physical and psychological inputs affect both body and mind.
The natural in Natural SoS means a person has a SoS that has developed at the natural time and in the natural order that the development of a human being requires. It indicates the development has been “normal” without obstructions or Hindrances in facilitating the maturation process. If the various required inputs are not present or provided at the appropriate time, the development of a Natural SoS cannot take place, and the result is a person with a warped SoS.
We do have an inborn drive to develop a SoS, but unless certain kinds of experiences (feedback) are provided and processed in infancy and early childhood, a SoS won’t develop naturally and normally.
A core sense of an independently existing me-ness is part of normal, healthy human development. However, it requires a specific attitude from the primary caregiver toward the child, which communicates certain information to the child about his or her “being.” This specific attitude needs to provide to the child the building blocks for the development of a healthy SoS, and is called Mirroring.