LGBT, and taking the steps beyond socialisation

Morris Massey put forward the notion that there are three key stages in development, which sits very much within the traditional model of child development, such as Kieran Egan’s Cognitive Tools Theory.

 

First there is the copying or imprinting stage. This stage is usually seen to last until about seven years of age. Through this stage we simply accept what comes to us from our parents as true. This is where we form many of our values and deeply held beliefs.

 

The next stage the modelling and skills orientation stage. Here we copy others, but more from a position of trying things out to see if they fit. We can be influenced by many other people at this stage, our peers, teachers and significant others.

 

The third stage is generally known as the socialisation stage. This is usually seen to last from about the age thirteen to about twenty one. The greatest influence at this stage is our peers. This is where we try and find others who are like us. We try to fit in.

 

After the age of about twenty-one, or there about, it is suggested we shift into the self-actualisation stage. This is where we become more reflective and become more truly who we are.

Unfortunately, few people progress beyond stage three. Most people spend their lives trying to fit in. Indeed, this is where the them and us, the in’s and out’s, and the great majority of discrimination and wars stem from.

 

For many LGBT people, who have experienced not fitting in, feeling different, being excluded, this can result in trying harder to fit in to what they think is expected of them.  A wholesale assimilation into a heteronormative lifestyle; marriage (or civil partnership), monogamy, 2.2 children. Or alternatively a wholesale shift to homonormativity (in whatever form that takes; camp queer, butch bear, kinky S&M’er). This is how we do things here. There is no other way. These are our expectations. There can be no other.

 

I know this stage only to well. Rather than progress into the self-actualisation stage around twenty-one, I wallowed in the land of the straights. Not taking the next step until mid-twenties when I went to Art College, and even then not coming out until two years later.

 

This can clearly give a sense of order and security, where before there had been anxiety and insecurity. Going through these stages in life in natural. But when we become fixated, we need to ask ourselves if we are stuck in the socialisation stage.

Many people will have heard of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Many still refer to self-actualisation as the pinnacle of these needs. However, Maslow himself updated this hierarchy, adding self-transcendence.

 

It is important then, not just to work out who we truly are, but to move beyond this to a stage were we are being more truly who we are in order to become the best us we can be for ourselves (inward facing) and for others (outwards facing). This is the most difficult step of all and the one least taken. This is where we connect with our core truth; the who of who we truly are (see my article How Free Are You? Limiting beliefs and how to modify them)

 

Bringing it all together

 

The development of people from deficiency to growth, and from internal to external growth is important if we wish the world to progress positively for all of us. This is especially important for LGBT and other minorities who have historically suffered from societies lack of progression beyond the third stage in development (the socialisation stage).

 

Small steps can lead to big transformation. Take that step.

 

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