So you have climbed up the emotional staircase this far to have a personal identity. Considering your climb, you know who you are, what your gifts and talents are, what your goals and dreams are and where you are headed in life. By this age and stage, you have a plan and are well on your way to a successful career, satisfying relationships, mature spirituality as well as goal building and accomplishing.That is if you have been successful on the previous steps.
Of course, all this should have been accomplished by age 30, but if there has been little accomplishment in your life, or if there are steps that you leaped over, you are still fixable. You can go back to steps number one and identify what in your childhood might have actually set you up to not develop the necessary emotional steps for a healthy and successful life. How do you accomplish this?
There are at least two programs for personal recovery that can assist you in this process. The programs work best in a small group, but are still successful when done individually. What would help the person who cannot join a small group (Binding the Wounds or The Journey) is to have a friend or a counselor with whom you can share your recovery process.
So what is the step on which by now you should be standing? Those who have arrived there, are in their productive, working years, climbing the corporate ladder, enjoying an intimate relationship with a marital partner and feeling successful as you are enjoying life. It is during these years that friends are important, as well as family, and a relationship with God and a church family becomes valuable and vital. Couples are raising their children and enjoying watching the development and accomplishments of their offspring.
It is in these years that men and women are productive financially, earning an adequate amount to support their family and saving in order to help their children through college. As well as being currently happy and successful, these folk look forward to retirement and to providing nice things for their partners and children.
Those who are successful during this phase will feel that they are contributing to the world by being active in their home and community. Those who fail to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved in the world.
Care is the virtue achieved when this stage is handled successfully. Being proud of your accomplishments, watching your children grow into adults, and developing a sense of unity with your life partner are important accomplishments of this stage.
Does this mean that there are never bumps in the road along the way? Absolutely not! It may be that some sickness interrupts your productivity. It might even mean that for no fault of your own, you are layed off at work, or some business reversal finds you in difficult financial straits. It may be that the loss of a child or parent intrudes your smooth-sailing life, causing you emotional angst. How you handle these upsets is determined by how well you have accomplished the steps that led you to where you are now. Do these setbacks devastate you to the point where you cannot function, or are they hurtful occurrences that simply sideline you for a few hours, days or weeks? Is it fairly easy to get back onto your life as it was before the event?
It is said that our happiness is not so much determined by what experiences come to us, but by how we meet those experiences and respond to them. The mature individual may endure anger, sadness or disappointment for a while, but is able to figure out the appropriate response and react accordingly.
If you do not feel that your productive years are successful, give yourself the time to re-examine the years leading up to your current age and stage, and ask yourself if you need to back up and develop a step that may not have been adequately developed. The productive years last from age 30 to about age 65, so you need to be prepared to enjoy these 35 years, feeling productive and successful. When you do, you care for yourself, and you also have the ability to care for others.