Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The single most telling sign of maturity

The single most telling sign of maturity

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Tuesday, November 23, 2004 12:18 AM

She was miserable in her relationship. They always fought. He was unfaithful and she caught him a number of times. There was a serious clash of values and the situation was not getting better.

Still, she was hoping to marry him.

Her family and friends thought she was crazy. All the signs pointed to a disaster in the making, yet she seemed intent on marriage. Perhaps it was because she felt she had given so much to the relationship. Maybe it was because she had given him her virginity. Perhaps she believed that he would change after they settled down and had a family. Maybe it was all of the above and some other mysterious reasons that kept her from fleeing what was seen as a toxic relationship.

Then, one day she got pregnant and the events began to dictate the direction she had hoped for all along. He was under heavy pressure to marry her and he did so, although very reluctantly.

It was soon clear that marriage was the biggest mistake she had ever made. Things got a lot worse and after two kids, she left him and went back to her parents.

She became a bitter woman who blamed God for not doing something to prevent her misery. She looked at her family and faulted them for insisting on the wedding after they learned of her pregnancy.

How many of us are like her? We get ourselves into all sorts of trouble, of our own mind and stubbornly insisting on getting what we want. Then when we get it and it does not turn out the way we expected it to be, we suddenly look around for someone else to blame.

It is so difficult for us to accept that our blunders are our own. So hard to face the music when it sounds terrible. We hate to accept our failures and our weaknesses. We find it so difficult to take responsibility for our actions, for our behavior.

We insist on our freedom to decide, but when things don’t work out as planned, we look for scapegoats to deflect responsibility for what was clearly our own doing.

It takes lots of courage and no small measure of maturity to accept total responsibility for ourselves. It calls for strength of character and a brave heart. We are quick to take credit for success, but we hide our failures as best we can. We even try to hide when there is no place to hide. We are happy when people praise us for our qualities of character and our talents, but we cringe and find great difficulty in handling criticism, even when it is given by sincere and well-meaning persons who care for us.

The ability to accept responsibility for myself, for my actions and behavior is I think, the single most telling mark of the level of my maturity. And the more complete is my acceptance of responsibility for myself, the closer am I to taking charge of my life and finding happiness and peace of mind.


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