But Not for Lunch

Rubric for Retirement--copyright 2017--K.W. Scott
Do you think it's selfish to strive for self-actualization?

To me, self-actualization is "...the achievement of one's full potential through creativityindependencespontaneity, and a grasp of the real world."  definition
That doesn't sound too self-centered, does it?  It sounds like you're using all that you've been given, to develop into the best creature possible.  It reminds me of stewardship, when you assess a set of raw materials, make a plan for using them and work to improve the "harvest" time over time.

If you're like me and believe that the raw materials are given by the Lord, the desire to improve is from the Lord and the results are from the Lord, then the Lord gets all the thanks and credit for the end product.  In us humans the end product is the fruit of our lives.

As a corollary to this, we are heartened to see healthy personal growth in ourselves and in others, right?  I think healthy adults enjoy their family, friends, shared experiences and time alone.  Some of us enjoy a dynamic, people-filled life and others prefer spending quiet time alone.  No matter our inclinations and preferences, we act and speak in ways to foster creativity and independence in ourselves and others.  When we're having a perfect day, that is.

But when it's not such a high and lofty day, with patience and tolerance for others' shortcomings in short supply, it's good to have some fall-back strategies in place, guidelines for keeping the peace in a relationship when you want to just take an axe to some nearby piece of furniture.  Why do you think DIY renovators enjoy smashing through their walls and sledgehammering their outdated kitchen counters?

You might be able to happily sail through life with family members or other folks you spend time with every day.  90% of the time you enjoy them, are glad to see them developing new interests and are thankful they are part of your own growth in life.  Then, something happens or something is said that causes you to think that life would be so much richer if they would just go away, sometimes temporarily and sometimes for maybe, a long relationship sabbatical.

It could be your spouse, who you have noticed is acting more and more dependent upon you for his or her interest in life:  "What are we doing today?"  Maybe it's a dear friend whose neighbors have steadily moved away to live near their grandchildren and her circle of friends has not replenished itself to fill the empty spots in her heart.  Most minutes of the day you can respond gracefully when a spouse or friend acts needy, but then there are those moments when your inner response is simply a wish they would just get a life (AKA self-actualize without your assistance).

Time to act like Spock and analyze what action will best protect the crew and advance the mission--what would it do to the other person if I had a truth moment and told my loved ones they were capable of planning an interesting day (or an interesting life) by themselves?  Would they gain independence and creativity on the spot, stride confidently over to the newspaper or computer and look for local events or MeetUp listings?  https://www.meetup.com  Hardly.

But, I can draw from my background in occupational therapy and plan ways to model independence and creativity for them.  Grab the entertainment section of the paper and highlight three free events for the coming week, leave it out on the kitchen table and ask your spouse to see if anything looks like a possibility.  Over time, fade your assistance and circle only two events to see if they find more in the list on their own.  Keep reducing your assistance until they start suggesting places to explore. Be ready for these steps to take months, maybe many months, to increase the person's self-direction in using leisure time wisely.

And the lonely friend?  Mix in additional friends to your outings.  If just the two of you usually go kayaking, invite a couple more folks.    When you go to a favorite brunch spot, bring along people with a sprinkling of crossover interests.
Help your friend become comfortable with new people in the safety of your presence.  Even if she doesn't pursue time with the new acquaintances on her own, you will have fun together while you add other people to the experience.

When you've reached the limits of your patience you might say things out of frustration that you'd never say other times.  Make a plan for how you can promote self-actualization in family and friends who consistently drive you to smashing walls or gorging on chocolate. When you've got a plan, life ain't perfect, but it's better.