Alternatively, these three folks and other mature men and women could have chosen to ignore or discount these voices from other rooms. Samuel, the accountant, could have politely turned down the offer to play at the Rock and Roll party. He could even have neglected to tell his colleague that he played drums as a teenager. Jane could continue to work hard as a medical professional and ignored the need to find time for exercise or her granddaughter’s soccer team. The would-be chef, Ricardo, could curse the bad fortune that pushed him into the role of homemaker for his excessively ambitious wife. He could have been envious of his wife, and might have decided to get even by cooking a horrible meal or inadvertently forgetting to pick-up food at the local supermarket. In short, each of these mid-centurions could have chosen a life of stagnation rather than generativity. This is the choice that all men and women must make during the potentially Autumnal decades of life.
If mature women and men chose stagnation by not attending to these voices, the voices can become quite destructive—even demonic. These voices are part of us. We know from many years of psychological investigation that when little or no attention is given to specific aspects of our psyche, these aspects of self tend to express themselves indirectly. They make themselves known through physical and mental illness, profound depression, or self-destructive activities (such as substance abuse, self-defeating behavior, or even suicide).
Psychologists use the term “denial” in describing the defensive process of inattention. The extensive use of this primitive defense leads directly to many of the psychological maladies of our time, particularly among mature men and women. The denied voices will eventually gain our attention or be heard by the world around us. We must determine if these voices will be addressed in a constructive and generative manner or in a destructive way later in life. It is in choosing deep care rather than self-centered concern that we find sound physical and mental health. It is through the engagement of all four roles of generativity that we find our sense of purpose and reason to live a long and prosperous life as Autumnal men and women.Download Article 1K Club