Many adults face situations where they feel like they need to rebel against their past. They may do this, consciously or unconsciously, focusing on something they resent about their upbringing – or even those currently in their lives – and react by rebelling against the other person, providing to them that they cannot be controlled and they refuse to be the person they think they being forced to be.
It’s almost interesting that we still envision this idea of adult rebellion. But there’s a problem: Adult rebellion, at least in the way we think about it, doesn’t really exist.
Rebelling vs. Choosing an Alternative
One thing that makes rebellion a rebellion is the lack of autonomy. When we’re kids – or even young adults that still rely on our parents – it is their ability to control us that we rebel against. They are the ones that are currently capable of telling us what to do or how we should act, and then we rebel against them by refusing, acting out, or doing something opposite of what they envisioned for us.
But as adults, we have autonomy. We are in full control of our lives and our choices. We may *feel* at times like our parents or our past control us, but that is our own emotional reaction and belief. We are adults, which means we are in control of every component of our lives.
Because we can make these choices, we are not truly rebelling. We may feel like we are, because we feel the pressure of various expectations – or even the fear and discomfort of our parents disapproving of our actions – but our parents have no actual physical or legal control over our decisions. We can do whatever we want, when we want.
That also means that these acts of rebellion are not really rebellion. Rebellion requires someone in control. In the absence of that control, what we are really doing is choosing to do something that we’re attributing to someone else. We’re making a choice to say “I did this because I thought it might hurt you, or at least hurt who you used to be to me.” It’s not actual rebellion.
What you’re really doing when you’re “rebelling” as an adult is you’re making a choice to:
- Hurt yourself at the expensive of someone else.
- Act negatively towards another person, often feeling negatively about yourself in the process.
- Reinforce the idea that someone that has no control over you is still controlling you.
You are, by “rebelling” as an adult, actual living for someone else and engaging in self-defeating behavior. Moving on and moving forward is critical for your long term health and happiness.