Growth – Human development
Growth does not imply multiplying oneself or getting bigger, which just means more of the same. Rather, growth implies something new as a result of development. Growing involves embracing what one is (i.e., one’s body, personal history, culture, etc.) and finding a path to perfection only to be what, somehow, one already is. All dimensions of humanity grow in the relationship between them. It’s not about them growing individually and then putting them together, but rather about them growing in relation to one another.
Emotion makes personal growth possible for human beings and we see this clearly in the fact that adolescents find themselves surprisingly and highly emotional. Young people perceive that these emotions produce immense change in their lives and that they must take a stance in face of it. This stance constitutes the possibility for growth, but adolescents must take active part in it in order to allow for that possibility to flourish. During childhood, a person placed in the appropriate environment grows through absorption, but adolescents must take a proactive stance, rather than a passive one. This is not to say that childhood does not require a proactive stance; rather, in childhood, environment (exogenous) primarily awakens proactivity, while in adolescents endogenous aspects awaken it because novelty is found precisely in their interior or in their emotional world.
On the one hand, emotions awaken new possibilities for thought, since personal situations are different, and, on the other hand, adolescents know how to simulate. Simulation is not abstract thought or knowing how to deduce or induce, but rather knowing how to recreate fictional situations and make temporal movements that don’t actually happen in reality. In simulation, one is able to imagine many possible scenarios and evaluate them without them occurring. Adolescents are capable of dreaming (imagining) their future, which significantly improves decision-making. This makes cognitive and emotional development mutually dependent because one does not happen without the other. New emotions draw out new scenarios, which allow for new thoughts and which, in turn, lead to new emotions.
In humans, emotions are fundamentally social emotions. Adolescents, on the one hand, evaluate the world through their peer group and, on the other hand, relationships are the source of emotion. Even though peer relationships are important, the presence of adults is still necessary because if this emotional attachment or link is maintained, adolescents will still value their parents’ views. Clarifying emotions, which are eminently social, happens while clarifying social relationships themselves. Therefore, socialization and emotional growth are also bi-directionally dependent.
Emotions, which are so new in adolescents, arise from within. This leads them to wonder along certain lines such as, “I was not like this before, so who is the person going through all these new things? Who am I really?” This starts a genuine process of rethinking oneself.
We also know that wanting something implies wanting more than just the desired object. Someone who steals wants more than the stolen good, he wants to be a thief, or at least he accepts being so. Thus, when adolescents define how to conduct their social relationships, they also define how they want to be. We must help them see that making plans with friends for the weekend goes beyond the weekend itself and defines how they understand friendship, for example. Thus, they define their way of being. Growth in personal identity and growth in emotions are also bi-directionally dependent.
There is also a relationship between emotional growth and moral growth. Adolescents are well known for the fallacy of passing from an emotional judgment to a moral one. I like it = it is good. I don’t like it = it is bad. UpToYou hopes not only to avoid the hastiness of moving from an emotional judgment to a moral one, but also to avoid emotional judgment itself. In fact, as we shall see, emotions are not instances of judgment, but rather are merely information for personal self-knowledge. Thus, they might be pleasant or unpleasant, but they cannot be said to be good or bad since positive/good and negative/bad refers to growth. After discovering this, it is possible to see that emotional maturity and moral maturity come together. For example, anger arises when a person is presented with the dilemma of whether to attack or flee and decides to attack. This is an assessment of the other as friend or foe. As cognitive and social development proceeds, this can go from an emotional assessment to a moral evaluation of what is good and bad. We call good/bad that which helps/hinder personal growth toward the improvement of social relationships. The emotional basis (pleasant-unpleasant) awakens the need for moral evaluation (positive/good-negative/bad) depending on its impact on growth. To the extent that this assessment is made, both the evaluative-moral capacity and emotional discernment grows.
In summary, we have reached a situation in which emotional growth and personal, social, moral and intellectual identity are nothing more than aspects of the same reality. Attempting to isolate them simply equates to not knowing the reality of personal growth.