Human Growth and Development
I was born in my mother’s second marriage. Unfortunately, she used to be abused by her first husband and, thus, after living together for 11 years, they decided to divorce. At the time my mother was remarried, she already had three sons who did not welcome mother’s decision to start a new family. That is why, they never managed to develop close relationship with my father. Consequently, I was not welcomed into their habitual family environment either. As far as I can see, this situation had a critical impact on my development and personal growth.
Specifically, starting from infancy, children are supposed to establish emotional closeness with their caregivers who are also known as attachment figures (Steinberg, 2014). Typically, such individuals include members of the child’s family (McLeod, 2007). In my case, parents had to earn their living, trying to provide their offspring with everything needed. Thus, they did not have much time left to satisfy other needs of an infant. Neither did they care to educate my older siblings to care about their small sister. As a result, starting from early childhood, I have developed a detached style of communication. For instance, once being distressed, I did not seek for comfort in the company of my attachment figures. At the very least, I did not consider my brothers to be capable to support me in stressful situations. As for my parents, even though I truly enjoyed spending time with them and always searched for such opportunities, our emotional closeness was not strong enough for me to be able to confide with them my deepest secrets. In general, this peculiarity of family environment contributed to the development of “the anxious resistant (ambivalent) insecure attachment style” (Sato, 2011). It presumes that children display certain trust issues while interacting with their attachment figures. This classification of attachment styles was proposed by a psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, in 1978. Nowadays, this concept is known as the Ainworth’s model. Currently, this classification is the most frequently used approach to identify how parents-children relations affect personal growth and development of adults. This attitude is typical for young humans who permanently experience inconsistent and ambiguous reactions from caregivers in a response to their needs. For instance, sometimes, parents are sensitive and responsive; meanwhile, pretty often this behavior is replaced with neglect and detachment. The worst part is that, within the time, such ambiguous attitude acquires the form of pendulum upbringing and becomes a permanent model of communication. Undoubtedly, such children-parents relations affect further development of a young personality in a negative way.
Specifically, it brings more distress and inhibits adult’s capacity to develop adequate interpersonal communication.
The complimentary classification was proposed in 1991 by scientists Bartholomew and Horowitz. Today, it is known as the Bartholomew and Horowitz’s model of attachment styles. These scholars emphasize that humans tend to form attachments in accordance with what they think about themselves and others. Specifically, the attachment style that fits me most of all is a preoccupied attachment. It presumes that a person “has a negative view of the self but a positive view of others” (Sato, 2011). Small children with a preoccupied attachment endeavor to remain close to their attachment figures and feel quite distressed when they are separated from their caregivers. Consequently, with the time this attachment style forms “the tendency to dependent and needy” in private life (Sato, 2011). For instance, being the Guardian Provider, I feel uncomfortable to be left alone. Therefore, I apprehend that, in the first place, my partner should be my true companion. Nowadays, I understand that this tendency can be explained by the following rationale: “the fear of abandonment is strong among individuals who were not provided with enough loving emotional and physical contact by their caretakers” (Sato, 2011). Partially, this attitude is formed as a compulsion to adhere to particular standards that were set in one’s childhood. For example, certain beliefs are formed on the stage when external objects (influence in this case) turn into internal life attitudes that would remain with a person throughout the entire life. In case a person feels that needs are being systematically ignored, s/he starts to think that “people really do not care about me” (Sato, 2011). In this case, an individual is more likely to evolve behavioral patterns that express neglectful attitude towards others. Beneath this attitude, there is an internal belief that “I am not good enough unless I can take care of my own needs” (Sato, 2011). It is well-seen that the first claim refers to processes of the external world, whereas the second one implies person’s inner condition. The above-mentioned sample reveals the process of how attachment figures are responsible for development of children’s set of beliefs, which in turn tends to be reshaped into concrete behavioral patterns. Fortunately for me, I have managed to detect compulsion to maintain negative behavioral patterns. Thereby, I have made an essential conclusion that a successful decrease of negative attitudes greatly depends on prosperous and unbiased identification of mental conditions that have been imposed in childhood. This way, I have excelled in correcting my attitude toward other people from detached, anxious, and indifferent into benevolent, friendly, and helpful.
Speaking of the next age period, the first one that I consciously remember, it is appropriate to admit that the process of socialization in my toddlerhood seemed to go relatively smoothly. As it is known, during this period a child is supposed to actively expand the circle of communication going beyond his/her family. Researchers claim that apart from parents, in particular mothers, there can and should be “a number of people involved in the care of children, such as relations and friends” (McLeod, 2007). This statement becomes especially relevant starting with the toddlerhood. It is the time when caregivers are expected to provide both responsiveness and particular requirements to behave in accordance with social norms. Without doubts, this combination facilitates the process of socialization; however, there are other factors that also play a significant role, contributing to successful development of a new member of the society. In my opinion, the lack of emotional closeness and acceptance make young individuals develop social connections more intensively comparing with their contemporaries whose needs for communication and affection are completely met in their family environment. It seems to be a kind of a replacement reaction, whereas not having enough support from attachment figures, one is supposed to seek for approval aside home.
Assessing my own life experience and lives of certain acquaintances, I have deduced that if the process of socialization has been successfully accomplished, individuals who are deprived of emotional closeness will still be rather successful in social life. More likely, they will not have negative criminal records and will maintain a respectful and explanatory lifestyle. Nevertheless, it is appropriate for them to pay specific attention to their private interpersonal communication since it is the weak point where they miss relevant experience and proper attitudes and beliefs.
Another factor that shapes one’s socialization is the parenting style that a child undergoes during the next age stage, i.e. preschool age. Although it is hardly possible to distinguish a particular kind of upbringing among existing “authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and disengaged”, scientists claim that one of the styles prevails (Steinberg, 2014). As far as I can remember, during preschool period I was raised in a clearly visible authoritative style. Both of my parents endeavored to facilitate the process of my socialization by establishing concrete and understandable rules that implied proper moral and ethical norms. I was not forced to perform actions, meaning and relevance of which I did not understand. This peculiarity assumes two important conclusions. Firstly, when I was a preschooler, our family had already developed well-settled relations that decreased the level of insecurity and anxiety. Furthermore, everyone became aware of his/ her role and function in the family. As a result, division of chores and other responsibilities contributed to development of well-established interpersonal relations inside our family. This positive change in domestic environment implies the second conclusion: due to the fact that I was not imposed with parents’ authority, I did not develop the propensity to be authoritarian towards other individuals. In addition, it is natural to deduce that different factors may affect personal growth and development throughout all age stages. The core idea is that, at least to a certain degree, attitudes and upbringing styles tend to change with the time, especially once being impacted by different life situations. For instance, such conditions include change of parent’s work or working schedule, divorce, remarriage, relocation, and appearance and disappearance of new family members among others factors. Acting together or separately, these elements of the human’s environment have a noticeable effect on the life of every individual and especially on the life of young persons.
Recalling experience from my school age, it is appropriate to mention that I felt pretty comfortable and successful performing typical duties and activities of a pupil. I was fond of drawing and I was working on improving my drawing skills throughout my school years. It was important for me to feel that my parents supported my hobby. It helped me to achieve good results in the arts. I won the VICA state contest for drafting. Later on, thanks to my father this hobby was developed into a career of a cosmetologist. As it is seen, despite the fact that my social life was advanced with the emergence of new teachers, classmates, and friends, the relationship with my parents remained highly important. Fortunately, the style of upbringing did not change during school years. Psychologists claim that “children of authoritative parents tend to be socially competent, responsible, successful in school, and high in self-esteem” (Steinberg, 2014). Assessing the relevant experience of my life, I can fully agree with this statement. Another important particularity is that the relations between parents and their offspring should be bi-directional. This feature becomes more prominent and obvious with the child’s growth and mental development.
Children of school age tend to shape their parents’ upbringing style, attitude, and even character. As a result, child-parents relations can be improved or deteriorated. In my case, I am proud that I have managed to construct mutual understanding between me and my parents. I believe that it has been possible thanks to my humble, calm, and easy-going character. It is another essential lesson that I have carried into my grown-up life. I have realized that once people are treated kindly even beyond their expectations, they begin to feel obligated to respond in a similar way. Although I have to admit that some individuals attempt to take advantage of this situation instead of becoming mutually helpful, carrying, and respectful, in most cases this approach is rather efficient, especially if being reputedly implemented. What is more, this conclusion implies the fact that I was not abused in my childhood and, as a result, I did not develop a behavioral pattern of mistrust.
Nevertheless, this period of my life is associated with quite unpleasant and stressful situation when my middle brother fondled me. At that time, I did not understand that it was not my fault and my sibling needed psychological help. Therefore, I kept that incident in secret. Today, I understand that I just did not have enough trust in my parents to reveal the truth. It is a vivid example of external attitudes being transformed into internal permanent conditions, which are manifested with certain behavioral patterns. In other words, what I actually thought was that my parents would not accept the truth adequately and my intention to reveal it would be reproached one way or the other.
Instead, my subconscious presented it as my own guilt. Thereby, I approached the formation of another life lesson: all fears have concrete causes and detection of these reasons would help to eliminate these undesirable mental states. Besides, the feeling of guilt should be treated very specifically since while at times it is a useful self-regulatory mechanism of one’s behavior, it should not be allowed to affect person’s decisions and actions. Simply put, one must learn how to negotiate with unpleasant emotions. Fortunately for humans, researchers have found out that, in general, the level of psychological distress tends to decrease with the age (Jorm et al., 2005). Therefore, the issue that was the deepest secret, which I could not dare to confine to my parents, began to trigger less distress with the time. This particularity helped me to reflect on my inner experience much easier compared with my childhood and adolescence. Speaking about my teen age, when I was 12 another stressful incident happened: on my way home I was raped. Exactly as it was in the case with my brother’s harassments, I was not confident in my parents enough to tell them about raping. As for many individuals, the period of adolescence contains more distress since it requires good adaptive skills for successful adjustment with significant physical and cognitive changes of the rapidly growing teenager’s organism. Needless to state, the emotional trauma caused by raping made me even more cautious in interpersonal relations. An interesting peculiarity is that it was difficult to construct trustworthy relations with my attachment figures, whereas it was quite possible to maintain mutually friendly attitude at the same time. Besides, despite certain hardships in domestic environment, my socialization was rather successful. As I have mentioned above, I explain this approach as replacing behavior when a person strives to fill in emotional gaps, which emerged in particular life spheres, by concentrating on other fields that provide such opportunity. Thus, it was a contributing factor of me being totally concentrated on the art. I think it was a nice decision to direct my attention to my favorite hobby as that activity helped to me feel adequate and prosperous in life.
In the meantime, I am a 44-year-old successful cosmetologist who also teaches this subject in a high school. I have decided to get a degree in counseling basically because of two reasons. The first reason is internal: I want to gain knowledge about myself in order to be able to comprehend my own mental conditions and attitudes that affect both my thoughts and behavior. I strive for new achievements and understand that it requires painstaking work on my character. I want to advance my mentality by eliminating negative beliefs, behavioral patterns, and permanent conditions. In addition, I want to improve life attitudes. The other reason is external: as the Guardian Protector, throughout my life I have attempted to help people around me. I like to care about others people’s needs and I truly enjoy helping people either with advice or actions. I believe that personal growth and development would help me to become an even better Guardian Protector.
To counsel an individual with similar psyche and prospects, I would advise to combine the Client Centered and Holistic Health counseling theories. The Client Centered theory suggests that psychologist implements such approaches as “active listening, empathy, acceptance (unconditional positive regard) and genuineness” (Steven, 2014). The main aim of these methods is to create a favorable environment for clients to feel totally secure to expose themselves. The sense of security is the starting point for personal development and growth.
Thereafter, it is necessary to create the atmosphere of acceptance and trustworthiness. Both these notions have critical meaning for successful counseling: whereas trustworthiness is supposed to maintain the sense of security, the purpose of acceptance is to dispel negative beliefs that have turned into behavioral patterns. For instance, it is more likely that these clients would feel that they are not good enough to be accepted or understood. Moreover, they may be used to count only on themselves, subconsciously thinking that accepting help implies their weakness and/or that they are not worthy to be supported. Elimination of the above-mentioned fears would help to create “the growth-promoting climate” (Steven, 2014). The second counseling theory is the Holistic Health or Biopsychological approach. It presumes identification, measurements, and accession of one’s “physical, intellectual, social, emotional, vocational and spiritual needs” (Steven, 2014).
As it is known, person’s needs are engines of mental growth and development. This process is easy to be apprehended: one’s needs are demanded to be satisfied, which assumes that certain actions must be performed. In this way, needs of an individual become strong motives for actions and, once being motivated, a human being strives to achieve targeted goals in order to satisfy his/her needs. Nevertheless, when particular needs are neglected, it inhibits the essential process of motivation. For instance, dissatisfaction of one’s mundane desires would not allow satisfaction of any intellectual, emotional, or spiritual needs. Therefore, it is critically important to assess the client’s needs and detect the plausible neglect in order to liberate his/her personality from being imprisoned in the distressful condition of permanent dissatisfaction. It is appropriated to utilize this approach for the same purpose as the Client Centered counseling theory is implemented; being combined together, these theories would help to create “the growth-promoting climate” (Steven, 2014). Without doubt, it is important to indicate why the Client Centered and the Holistic Health theories should be used in unity. These approaches are equally relevant; however, they are elaborated to target different aspects of the human’s self. For instance, the Client Centered theory is aimed at creating advantageous and comfort conditions for further counseling (including trustworthy relations with the counselor). Thus, in the first place it is directed at the creation of both secure internal and external conditions, which would help to reduce negative effect of certain undesirable attitudes.
Meanwhile, the Holistic Health needs to be implemented for a throughout survey of one’s needs and motivating or disengaging factors.
Therefore, combination of these theories is mutually complimentary and, thus, it is helpful in accomplishing better results in the client’s treatment. It is recommended to start with the Client Centered theory, adding elements of studying the person’s holistic health.