Why We Refuse To Grow Up – And What To Do About It

By Jessica Sangmeister

May 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

When we are little we hope to grow up as soon as possible. Mostly because we think we would be able to buy all the ice-cream and stuffed animals we want, and we can stay up and watch TV all night.
But as soon as we actually start to grow up things change. Do you remember when you noticed your first pubic hair? The first time you liked somebody? For most of us it was embarrassing. We’d hide it until we were sure that the majority around us deals with the same issues. And then we start feeling comfortable until the next change emerges.

Growing up. It means you are growing. Not just in heights, but also your mind, your character, your inner self.

Whenever you grow, things change, and that can be uncomfortable and hard.


Because the prehistoric part of our brain (the amygdala) tells us to be careful, to go slow, to back off. To stay where we are, because we know it’s safe.
Our prehistoric brain is like our inner-grandfather who doesn’t want us to cross the street, because we might get hurt.
But today, we live in a world of traffic lights, there is no danger when crossing the street. And there is not a lot of real danger out there that threatens our life.
Nonetheless, we are tempted to believe our inner-grandfather so we remain paralyzed, not moving forward, not growing.

So how to kick your inner-grandfather in the ass?

Step 1: Realize

There are two different mindsets. The growth mindset and the fixed mindset. When you follow your grandfather’s advice you live in a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset believes you are either good or bad, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s your inherent nature.
A growth mindset believes you can be good at anything. It’s up to you and your actions.
Realize that when you listen to your grandfather you will stay in a fixed mindset. In a fixed mindset you will think that
when you suck at something, you will never be able to do it.
when you fail, it defines you.
when you want to start something new, you deny it, so you can stay in your comfort zone.
To give you an example: Imagine you want to play the guitar. After a couple attempts your inner-grandfather tells you that you are the worst guitar player the world has ever seen. He advices you to stop trying, because obviously you have no talent whatsoever. And you listen to him. You’ll never touch the guitar again.
What you have to do now is to realize that it’s your inner-grandfather talking, it’s not you.
Be conscious about your thoughts.

Step 2: Choose

When you are conscious about your fixed mindset you have the choice to either follow it or to overcome it.
When you realize that it’s your inner-grandfather who is telling you that you will never be able to play the guitar, you get the chance to choose, if you want to follow his advice or not.
How often do you listen to your grandfather (the real one, the dad from your mum and dad)? I am sure there are moments when you appreciate his advice, but eventually you follow your own lead.
You can do the same with your inner-grandfather. Knowing, that he wants the best for you, which is to protect you from crossing the street, and still follow your own lead.
Make a conscious decision to play the guitar, even though you might be the worst player the world has ever seen, but if you leave your fixed mindset you know things change. And so does your ability to play the guitar. If you practice you will eventually get better.

Step 3: Do it

You have to do it. Cross the street, overcome your doubts. Even if you are scared of counteracting your inner-grandfather.
Pick up your guitar and practice.

The crucial part of this three-step-process for growth is to realize what’s happening inside of you.
In our everyday life we are so busy doing stuff, that we work on autopilot. We don’t even get to step 2, to choose. Before we even know it, we listened to our inner-grandfather.
Growth can be hard. We can’t change that, because of our prehistoric brain that likes safety. But what we can change is how we deal with growth. We can choose, if we let ourselves be controlled by our inner-grandfather or if we make our own, conscious decisions.
Have fun growing up.

Jessica Sangmeister

Jessica is a life coach and the author of youchangeyou. Through her blog and tweets, Jessica proves that it is possible to live a fulfilling life and save the world at the same time.

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