What is not mature: confluence

I thought that, rather than starting with a description of maturity as end-gain, I would describe some aspects of immaturity. By immature, I mean to suggest that a person is not availing himself to life in the fullest sense: He is not bringing all of what he is, his self, in full contact with the world. He is not able to be fulfilled and grow in the most absolute sense. There are two themes running concurrently; self and full contact.

As self, in the fullest sense, a person is free to draw from polar opposites, and everything in between, of different aspects of his character. Tragedy, the mundane, or comedy could be reflected, for example,  in grieving, indifference, and laughing, by a person who is able to access a full range of emotions. This applies also to cognitive functions as well, whereby a person can rationally assess all “means-whereby” alternatives in determining the most effective path to problem resolution.

Man’s needs bubble up from inside himself, and also come into being from environmental stimulus. In either case, man’s needs become figure against his background of experience and wisdom, and demand satiation. He senses a feeling of excitement, or alternatively – anxiety. One avenue for minimizing anxiety is to accept what is presented as given: to swallow whole without full and authentic assimilation. As an example, a school student might accept a math proof from an educator as true even though he doesn’t understand it, or perhaps disagrees with it. Rather than suffer the embarrassment and anxiety associated with asking for further clarification, he pretends to understand. Because he avoids the encounter with his class, and the potential embarrassment by risking not knowing or being incorrect, growth ceases to take place. The individual stagnates, or worse.

The Gestaltist term this type of neurotic avoidance as “confluence”. With bodies of water, it means flowing together. By going with the social flow, through confluence, we stay safe, but give up our individuality and independence. We give up the self.

With botany, seeds grow because they sit in soil, and are distinct from soil. With man, if child is “seed” and home and school “soil”, what can parents and educators do to keep soil “fertile”? When we assume the authoritarian role, do we promote full assimilation and growth, or capitulation through confluence? What is the short-term result? Long-term result?

I welcome your commentary. I am thinking, considering, and re-writing with time.


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2 Comments » for What is not mature: confluence
  1. John Phillips says:

    An alternative is to detach from events and allow results. In other words, discover that very few things are personal, we have just been culturally trained to take them that way. If we can get beyond the ego, even if just for a minute, we see the the traps and pitfalls of placing ourselves at the center of the events in our lives. This can result in far more personal peace and contentment without having to negotiate a mine field filled with people and things we have no control over. We only control how we see things and how we react to them. Its the opposite of being neurotic.

  2. Dave says:

    If you a referring to what Covey describes as the “circle of concern” as opposed to the “circle of influence”, then I understand. With “events in our lives”, I would want to be fully present, with full emotional and cognitive faculties so that I can learn and grow.

    I am sure there are events that don’t become “figure” in my life, and remain “ground”: I just don’t attend to them. I can imagine that events in the “circle of concern” could fall into this category.

    For me, I don’t want to avoid events because I sense that they may cause me anxiety.

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