| noun INFORMAL |
1. the practice of behaving in a way characterized as a responsible adult.
The term “adulting” is a fairly recent addition to colloquial English. The common understanding of this term is related to managing the mundane tasks of daily life with consistency. I recently attended a 3-day workshop with #MichelleChalfant to learn more about how to incorporate the concepts she shares on her popular #theadultchairpodcast.
Michelle is a psychotherapist based in Nashville who has merged all her training and experience into a model for “adult-ing” based on the idea that we all have parts and that these parts sit on one of 3 chairs; the child chair, the adolescent, and the adult chair. Un-derstanding what chair we are seated in as life happens has everything to do with whether we react or respond. Michelle’s description of the model: “The Adult Chair is a manual for life – a path for better relationships, more self-love and compassion and greater peace and joy everyday”! Here is a basic breakdown of how the chairs look, act and feel: THE CHILD CHAIR is our INNER CHILD/SPIRIT/TRUESELF and was developed between the ages of 0-6 and is the seat of our TRUE feel-ings, needs and emotions. We are fully present, mindful and in the moment in The Child Chair. Some of the characteristics of this child state are vulnerability, intimacy, passion, play, spontaneity and trust. The child RECORDS EVERYTHING without processing. What is observed and how that feels becomes encoded and beyond our awareness. Getting to know our inner child by providing love, support, and unconditional acceptance will allow the child to begin to show us the why of how we are reactive to stimuli in a way that feels beyond our control. THE ADOLESCENT CHAIR is our EGO/MIND/FALSE SELF and came on line between ages 7-25 and is the seat of feeling SAFE. The assumed “jobs” of the adolescent is to keep us safe, alive, and accepted. It does this by living in the past and the future and is never present in the moment. The adolescent develops stories and assumptions and puts on masks believing that these masks are the only way to make it through life without feeling negative emotions. Our adolescent can be controlling, perfectionistic, and avoids blocks and defends when faced with discomfort. Our adolescent believes that it is separate and is easily triggered. The adolescent blames, pleases, fixes, rescues, obsesses, becomes addicted and feels a need to “do it now” and “do it fast”. Sound familiar 😬?
Now for the best part, THE ADULT CHAIR, which is emotionally healthy and represents OUR HIGHEST and BEST VERSION OF OURSELVES 🙌🤩👍🏻💃🙌! So how do we get our butts to stay in this seat more often than not? By living in the PRESENT moment, processing experiences by identifying the stories we weave about our life through the lens of FACT and TRUTH. Our healthy adult is compassionate, non-judgmental, curious, responsive, able to set and maintain boundaries, feel emotions, takes responsibility and by remaining grounded can stay present and observant when the adolescent is triggered. If you aren’t interested in living a life of equanimity then by all means stop reading now.
I am seated in my adult chair and one of the adult’s common statements is “who cares?”. Meaning, who cares about what others believe and how they act. It is never our job to fix them or convince them of anything. It is our job to stay in our lane, live authentically, based on the facts and the truth as best we can. Some of you reading this may be thinking “this is way too easy to understand, so it must be easy to implement”. LMFAO!! If that was the case we would be a highly evolved society filled with individuals with a monk-like demeanor! Before your adolescent goes into judgement about the idea of getting your monk parts activated, check the Dalai Lama, dude seems to be living it up!! For those of you who realize this will be challenging but are up to the task, here is what I suggest: 1. Listen to The Adult Chair podcast. If you don’t know how to listen to a podcast, personally I think you may be in the adolescent chair, with your hands on your hips and a frown on your face while you think some form of “this podcast thing is not for me”, without even checking it out. 2. My adolescent co-dependent part feels compelled to tell you that you can also listen from theadultchair.com. 3. Order “The Adult Chair” book from amazon. It is short, sweet and to the point. Michelle is working on a longer more involved book but be-cause she is in her adult chair, she doesn’t feel in a rush to get it out. One step at a time, fully present, seeing how the step feels, then another step forward. Boy do I need to learn that. Not doing so has caused a lot of strife in my life and frankly the lives of those who have cared about me. 4. Find a therapist who understands parts work. In fact, that is exactly the question to ask: “Hi, I’m interested in starting therapy and I want to work on understanding my parts, is that something you have training in?” At the present moment Michelle does not have a therapist certification for her model, and again, she will get to that, once she has completed and integrated the steps she has already taken. Damn that Michelle is such an adult!! And also, one of the funnest, funniest, tuned in, and REAL people I have recently met. I hope that is enough to get you started.
No time like the present, your child really wants the holidays to be fun and stress-free. Can you hear him or her saying “PRETTY PLEASE!”?
Here at Life Skills Resource Group, Juliana Ochoa and I, Cindy Fabico, have attended workshops with Michelle Chalfant and would love to work with you on finding out what your child and adolescent need your adult to know so they can quit working so hard to get your attention. I know my adolescent has been in overdrive, basically since I got divorced in 2012.
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