June 6, 2020

The Stages of Life

Whether consciously or subconsciously, we all go through different phases of development throughout our lifetime.  From birth, childhood and teens, through to early adulthood, middle age and the twilight years, our personality develops in an almost predetermined order. Basically, we learn as we go along. All going smoothly, healthy development at each life-stage leads to the acquisition of specific skills, attitudes and beliefs that help us navigate the tasks of our next stage.  Crucially, every stage of development builds on the foundations of the previous stage.   For example, in our earlier years, we learn how to trust, how to take initiatives and make our needs known.  Later, as our identity and individuality start taking shape, we learn how to be more independent, more competent and self-assured.  These acquired skills serve to support us throughout the rest of our journey. But life is rarely perfect, and misguided or unsupported phases of our learning process can distort the natural progress of character formation, and this can have a negative domino effect on subsequent life-stages.   For example, we may have at some time unconsciously internalised an inability to trust, or a reluctance to embrace change;  an incapacity to regulate our emotions, poor skills of self-assertion and the adoption of certain evasion tactics may have become deeply ingrained; these potentially self-destructive styles of relating can come to permeate our whole way of being in the world, and similar unsubstantiated beliefs and habits can have a long-lasting adverse effect on our relationships, careers and emotional stability over our lifetime.   Where are YOU on life’s journey? If you are able to reflect on your younger years with a sense of achievement, gratitude, peace and fulfilment, you are one of the lucky ones that successfully completed each life stage before moving on to the next. However, if looking back on your life brings up uncomfortable memories, regrets and resentments, you may need to step back and take a look at how your life has been unfolding.  If you are experiencing role-confusion, feelings of shame, a lack of intimacy or a fear of rejection, coupled with a sense of stagnation or isolation, you may have been dealt an unfair hand.  The fact is, something may have thwarted you from fully completing each life stage, and you may have missed out on creating the precious building blocks that form the foundation of healthy progress; this may even have left you feeling ‘left behind’ and wondering how life has passed you by. The good news is that, regardless of your age, if you were unable to successfully fulfil yourself in the past, you still have the opportunity to do so now.   Therapy offers you a confidential space within which you can safely explore, discover and navigate a new pathway for yourself.   Together with your therapist, you can work to identify past and present obstacles and impediments to self-fulfilment so that you may ‘restructure’ your past and build sounder, more secure foundations for your future. A Final Word of Encouragement for technophobes.... Seeking therapy for the first time can be challenging, especially for the not-so-young who may be less familiar with this service.  To add to this difficulty, face-to-face sessions are neither advisable nor easily available in the present Covid-19 driven environment, and this issue may present yet another hurdle, because going online can be daunting for those of us who don’t have the skills of modern technology.   If this is true for you, take heart, because you are not alone in this.  Many others of your age have struggled to overcome the same aversion to online therapy, and you will be gratified to learn that many of them have discovered that, once they got their equipment up and running, they very soon overcame their initial apprehension.   I hope and trust that you too will not allow technology to be a stumbling block between you and a chance to overcome any fear and shame that have held you captive for so long.

Alex Xuereb, Gestalt Psychotherapist
Alex sees adults and young adults of all ages on a variety of issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, emotional overwhelm, a sense of being unappreciated and unloved, relationship issues at home or in the workplace, existential issues or role confusion, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness or isolation.
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