Why is adulting so hard?

Adulting often feels hard because it does not honour the desires of our inner child. When we were young we combined learning with play. Learning was more interactive and we had the curiosity to experience trial and error. We didn’t have a picture of what the outcomes would be, we didn’t have any expectations, everything was a surprise. We repeated things until the element of surprise diminished, then we moved on to the next surprise. 

Going through adult life expectations are everywhere, we can predict the outcome of our trials to a larger extent, we have others who can advise us and we often don’t feel we have the time to make errors. We are constantly trying to limit surprises because they cost us time and/or money. We have a list of excuses for why we wouldn’t want to try something new. These excuses come from a nervous system trying to maintain predictability and safety. We feel it is a chore to do many tasks and as a result there is a constant resistance between what we are doing and what we think we want to do.

Sadly when people are asked what they really want to do they often don’t know. They haven’t given themselves the space to consider the options that exist. They have become dependent on being told what to do and while this gives our nervous system some safety, the desire to grow still remains. This is similar to phases during childhood, there are times when we need freedom to explore and interact but then there are times when some boundaries help us feel a sense of certainty. Too much certainly and there are no surprises left. We crave routine when we don’t have it and crave spontaneity when routine has become prominent.

Recognising the need to balance routine and spontaneity is key and it can be done in ways that involve very little change to your life. Here are few that have worked for me:

Move differently – like many routines we also get locked in patterns of movement, try brushing your teeth with the other hand and observe what is happening to your mind. Rise from your chair using one leg and see what this new action stimulates. Crawl like a chimp around the house.

Get up some speed – Acceleration and balance are fun for the brain and are big parts of growing up so embrace that familiar childhood feeling again. Any way you can use speed and balance without completely scaring yourself will give you a sense of euphoria that will sooth the inner child. So run down a hill, go on a swing, cycle or any boardsports are fun ways to generate this.

Make something new – get a flavour for failing or making mistakes on your own terms. Try a new recipe or create something and bring awareness to the possible judgement or criticism that arises. You will realise those negative voices are probably holding you back in other areas too. Making something new will enhance a learning and growth mindset which often gets left behind when routine takes over.

Ultimately through meditation routine dissolves. Moving to non judgmental awareness of every situation means it is not reduced to comparison but accepted for just being. With your morning commute, observe how the sun is in a different position everyday, the weather changes, the birds and insects have moved. When this awareness becomes apparent nothing feels routine anymore and you will find a child-like curiosity in every moment.

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