Every individual, every human being is equal to every other in having the same responsibility to manage ourselves in this world of immense biological, mechanical and social activity. Every individual is equal to every other person in having the same two categories of management options. One is proactive management that comes when we have conscious, rational understanding of the situation to be managed.
This is a Secure Reality, or a reality in which we feel emotionally secure. The other is reactive management that we use when we do not understand the situation fully. Then, we are in an Insecure Reality or a reality in which we will feel emotionally insecure and act immaturely no matter how intelligent or experienced we may be. Thus, the difference is not a secure or insecure person, a well or sick one, or a good or bad one, but there is a person who can be in a secure or insecure reality at different times.
In an insecure reality, the apparently simplest way to restore a sense of balance and wellbeing is either to reduce the power of the stressor (the aggressive response), boost the visible competence of the self (the associative response), or avoid events that are stressful (the evasive response). Aggression can be manifested through acts of violence, the expression of anger, physical or sexual abuse, irritability, self-harm, anorexia, or passive manipulation. Association can be the placement of unhealthy reliance on biological, material, or social re- sources, giving rise to over-compliance, burnout, co-dependency, possessiveness, jealousy, materialism, submissiveness, or phobias. Evasion can be procrastination, laziness, or the neurotic indulgence in less disciplined activities like play, entertainment, sex, drug and alcohol use, gambling, partying. Failure or fear of failure in any of these areas may evoke moods of loneliness, self-doubt, worthlessness, or even depression.
As you may see, the behaviours that are natural survival responses at the physical level are common to all people. Thus, none of the behaviours or moods of the person in an Insecure Reality is inherently wrong or bad. It is only when they are used too often, too easily, or too intensely that they become unhealthy. Thus, it is the state and depth of being in an Insecure Reality, not the type of defensive response that is unhealthy.
The behaviours and moods of a person who functions in a secure Reality are naturally rational—creative, productive, satisfied. A person, therefore, does not have to be taught how to be creative, productive or satisfied; he/she only has to be taught how to expand and maintain their secure reality. Since, however, we are all born knowing nothing, it is easily predictable that everyone starts life in an insecure reality and learns to build a secure reality progressively. While in an insecure reality, anyone will rely on reactive behaviour. Thus, it is less important to quantify the type of reactive behaviour, treat it, or even punish it than it is to recognize the degree to which a person is stuck in an insecure reality.
Focusing only on removing an unhealthy behaviour or suppressing an unhealthy mood without first expanding the Secure Reality can be cavalier, ineffective, and unfair.
We must also realize that even if an unhealthy behaviour is suppressed or removed by reducing the person’s exposure to stress, change will always happen. As soon as balance is achieved in one area, something crops up to create a different challenge from a different or even the same area. Then, old behaviours reappear or are replaced by other even more unhealthy ones.
So, to believe that a person who needs to rely on reactive behaviour is bad or ill is to deny them the opportunity to regroup and claim their right as a human being – that is, to mature into a responsible adult. To act on this belief will also allow reactive behaviour to be their highest aspiration and greatest excuse. Instead, we must see them as people who, because of poor opportunity, inadequate direction, or personal handicaps, were not able to move to proactive management at a pace that is consistent with their age or level of responsibility. Our focus should specifically be on recognizing their potential to grow… intelligently, spiritually, emotionally. It is this ability that makes us unique as the humans. It is this ability we must develop to the fullest, our ability to Understand Change, develop progressively greater insight, and build a strong Secure Reality.
When we set about exploring this in others, we often will discover that in childhood there was relative neglect (from inattention to indifference or blind permissiveness), pampering (from mate- rial privilege to physical or mental dispensations), or unrealistic expectation, (abuse, exploitation, or unpreventable hostilities like war or latchkey responsibility). Then, it is possible that a person will fail to develop sufficiently in understanding and emotional maturity and need to rely on basic physical instincts for survival in some area of responsibility. Such a person may even develop a pattern of response or a personality that makes reactive behaviour their proud aspiration. We must understand, however, that these behaviours do not necessarily form a personality or an illness. They are self-protective and thus rational within a limited framework. They exist only while that framework exists.
Therefore, a child left to its own devices, one who is protected from the vicissitudes of life, or one who is unfairly pushed to greater responsibility than is fair, will find that most of reality feels insecure. Such a child will become the adult who demonstrates reactive behaviours more often than will one who has had good guidance and encouragement. However, we do expect that anyone will develop a bit of emotional maturity even if there was little guidance or responsibility. So all is not lost. It is when emotional development is stagnated to the extent that much of reality remains insecure that these children become adults with immature behaviour or psychosocial maladjustment.
It is essential, therefore, to consider the fullest potential of anyone to strengthen them- selves mentally and emotionally, not necessarily to keep pace with all challenges of an expanding reality, but to relieve themselves from being caught too far behind the eight ball. Their mood and behaviour will change naturally as they develop a larger secure reality and emotional maturity.
In other words, we do not have to teach a person how to have healthy behaviour. That comes naturally, but only if the person’s Secure Reality is large enough to allow function in that area. But to achieve this, we must be willing to help them go deeper, to look for more than behaviour or mood swings; we must be willing to help them look for the guidance or opportunity that was overlooked or misapplied, and focus on providing that.
We uncover where the emotional development might have been compromised, the reason for the defect, and how we can correct that flaw. Through this, we give people authority over their own emergence. They learn that they can do more than seek help for a weakness, restrain a natural response, or depend on support from others to stop a regression. They learn that they are capable of going forward with true self-generated strength and to keep that strength in hard times as well as good. They emerge with the desire to embrace life with passion, confidence, and flexibility, allowing reactive behaviours to fade by attrition. They learn they are not defined by their behaviours and that true maturation can allow them to look at an old behaviour as something they once did…. when they were not as smart as they’ve learned they can be.