Marcy S., age 47, North Carolina

How can I stay in my Adult and still not take things (and especially myself) too seriously? My predominating image of an adult is someone who is rather grim and stern. And worse than that, cynical and hard. Sometimes when I am this way I’m very uncomfortable. But my image of a child is distorted, too — a weak, dependent, insecure, frightened little person. Both these images are based on feelings.

Somewhere in the shadows I catch a glimpse of an adult who is warm and gay, compassionate, trusting, courageous. Once in awhile I feel this way and am able to act accordingly.