I just finished reading a little book called How to be an adult: a handbook on psychological and spiritual integration by David Richo that was pretty darn good. What I like most about Richo's writing style is that he is pithy. The book is divided into three parts: "Personal work", "Relationship issues", and "Integration".
The first part talks about the sorts of childhood issues we need to work on in order to grow up, how to develop assertiveness, and the major challenges to adulthood: dealing aptly with fear, anger, and guilt. He ends the first part with a set of affirmations that show the direction in which he leads his readers:
"I accept full responsibility for the shape my life has taken."
"I let people go away or stay and am still okay."
"Until I see another's behavior with compassion, I have not understood it."
"I live by personal standards and at the same time -- in self-forgiveness -- I make allowances for my occasional lapses."
Part two starts with a section titled "Maintaining Personal Boundaries in Relationships" in which he says, "Our first growth realization was of separateness. Our first task was letting go, i.e. acknowledging a personal boundary: I am separate and so are those who care about me. This was a departure and a struggle... Adults learn that separateness is not abandonment but simply a human condition, the only condition from which a healthy relationship can grow."
In the following section titled "Intimacy", he describes the opposing fears of engulfment versus abandonment, how to recognize each where they exist, and useful strategies for coping and processing.
He ends the section on relationships with a list he calls "The Givens of Relationships: Antidotes to Unrealistic Expectations" in which he shatters every fairy tale with the following statements:
"Only at rare moments is the love in one partner the same as that in the other."
"No one is loyal or truthful all of the time."
"You are ultimately alone and ultimately able to make it alone."
"There is no one person who will make you happy, keep you fascinated, love you as your favorite parent did, or give you the love you missed from your parents."
"Most people in relationships seldom know what they really want, ask for what they really want, or show what they really feel."
"Most people avoid or fear intimacy, consistent honesty, intense feelings, and uninhibited joy."
"Letting go of blame and the need to be right heals a relationship most efficaciously."
"Jealousy and possessiveness, though not desirable, are normal human feelings."
"A relationship is a spiritual path since it consists of a continual shedding of illusions."
In the third part, in speaking about integration, he says, "We are hard on ourselves when we demand total elimination of our shortcomings... Integration is a human not a mechanical process. It has a unique timing over which we have no control... If our self-actualization means that our inner work must all be done and we must be perfect, we are choosing never to be happy." He also talks about the role of the subconscious in integration, in terms of recognizing and dealing with the shadow side of the personality and using dreams in a Jungian sense.
About unconditional love, he says:
"In a very real way, we are who we are because of the love others have shown us. Our every adult asset began as a gift from someone who loved us as we were and thereby encouraged our unique self-emergence."
"The most perplexing and elusive mystery about love is that we can show it totally and yet we can never really know how much we love someone or just how intensely we are loved."
"All the while it has been here within us and here everywhere around us. The only search is for that which is always and already ours."
Although the title is a little funny, it is pretty appropriate. Richo guides the reader through the essentials of what one must learn in order to live as a healthy adult, as opposed to someone who continues to live life with unrealistic, childish expectations. He makes the work of "becoming an adult" seem important, challenging, even noble and he leads the reader on a clear path to attaining this goal.