How To Be An Adult


Do you suffer with SAKS? That’s Staying-AKid syndrome. Do you ever find yourself desperately wanting someone in your life to take over your more troublesome problems or reassure you of your unending irresistibility? Or are you ever tempted to exaggerate your problems, even just a little, so that you get a bigger share of sympathy from a friend or loved one? “Then the trainer made me do 500 push ups after I’d been on the treadmill 5 hours!”

To some degree or in some situations, I believe that we all struggle with staying-a-kid-syndrome. SAKS.  Being an adult is just so hard sometimes! And we remember all too well when whining, blaming, and endlessly needing were somewhat acceptable behaviors! Most of us are more sophisticated now, we whine and blame with real savvy so that our pleadings and blame sound like well-reasoned treatises. In our worst moments, most of us can be just plain manipulative. How about the wife who blames her husband that she has no personal time? Or the person who says he is lonely because his friends are selfish with their time? These are tough issues, because they are real hurts, but they are unowned.

For those of us who suffer with SAKS, learning the distinction between healthy interdependence and SAKS-motivated need is a critical adult task. In counseling, I find that this is a core problem that many clients bring, whether it is spoken or not. Figuring out what one’s responsibility is in life can be a difficult pill to swallow but a very empowering journey to begin. Think about all the things that we can be tempted to think are someone else’s job in our lives: creating stability, providing security, building our confidence, or even making us happy. The more we learn to accept what is our own responsibility, the better we will be at enlisting true support from friends and spouses.

How do you see SAKS in your life?

For more on this topic, check out my new “Resource of the Month”. It’s David Richo’s book, How To Be An Adult.


  1. so true Janice! Very interesting & funny & yes it is so much easier to blame someone else or want someone to take care of problems. Aaah to be a kid again. The funny thing is that when you’re a kid, you think adults have the life and now as adults, we think, oh my gosh, that was so much easier. I guess the grass is always greener.

  2. I think the times that SAKS rears its ugly head in me more recently are when I’m needed to help my own mother, or am reminded of my parents-in-law getting older. I feel uncomfortable in that new role – I want them to take care of me!

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