Child-Adult-Elder: Mastering The Internal World

Steven Barnes
4 min readNov 6, 2023

Its fun to shift between models. Looking at the Child-Adult-Elder balance, the Male-Female balance, and examining your issues through that framework is SCARY powerful.

  1. 5MM. Breath and Heartbeat
  2. MR MAGIC and 1%
  3. Ancient Child (Child-Adult-Elder)
  4. Three Gates

That would be nice. Very nice. So let’s look at how this works this week.

I am going to Orycon on Friday, and HAVE to have a serious hold on the Star Wars book. Ideally, I make enough progress to be able to just chill and play all weekend, and then HIT IT HARD next Monday, when I will have approximately 45 days to deliver the book. That means that I have to have a “complete draft”. Not polished by any means. Rough AF. But complete. That would allow me to switch to another part of my head, and just have fun polishing.

  1. The first step is clarifying what needs to be done. The work, the time frame, the motivations. This is stressful, no slightest question. The trick is to keep the stress from becoming strain. I can do that with the 5MM, the Hero’s Journey, and the MAGIC formula
  2. The next step is identifying what resources and abilities are needed. Note that these two steps are the MAP OR MODEL. The “M” in the Magic formula.
  3. Then I have to take definite action, every day, over time. This means making a “deal” with the little boy inside me. Will you work for me? How can I reward you? I have these conversations, and they are powerful. The book has to make him happy, has to align with my deepest values, and has to be completed on an adult schedule. Child, Adult, Elder all working together. Make sense?
  4. Emotions. I will have to generate creative joyful emotions EVERY DAY. And feel just enough fear to keep me on my toes. GRATITUDE for the opportunity, the community, the skills, the mentors and experiences that make this possible. What a wonderful gift to my own heart: a chance to play and do gonzo martial arts scenes? Life is good!
  5. Clear intention? Book turned in by the first week of January. And a damned good book, better than THE CESTUS DECEPTION.
  6. Do I have CONFIDENCE that I can and should do this? Heck yeah! Fun, money, challenge, and just the joy of being Steve. I won’t always be. Life is finite. I’m just an interference pattern of information, energy, and matter. And for this short time of my life, I have the honor of playing FULL OUT. So yes, I am willing to commit 100%

My “Child” must provide me with energy, creativity, problem solving, joy.

My “Adult” keeps his eye on the schedule, the money, the formal resources, the discipline and communication with other adults.

My “Elder” self reminds me of the ultimate meaning of my life, my deepest values.

So long as I “thread” all three needles: protect and nurture my child. Express and walk like an aware, awake, adult human being. Align all worldly actions with my spiritual realities.

If I do all three I cannot fail. And can I work on this book within the Three Gates?

  1. Is every character being TRUE to themselves? Are all their actions and words TRUE from their perspective? Does the world make sense, within its own internal rules?
  2. Am I KIND? To the editors who trusted me? The readers who trust me to respect their beloved mythos? To the characters, even the evil ones? Do I love them all?

If you can see how the ANCIENT CHILD and the THREE GATES marry with the HERO’S JOURNEY to create not only a story but a road to WRITING that story, and understanding how this effort fits into the overall pattern of my life, you’ve got it.

During FIREDANCE we look at improving your life by 1% per week, 1`% greater integration of body, mind, and spirit, living as heroes in our own stories. Some of our students are artists. Some of those artists are writers. Some of those writers are interested in Hollywood.

Cool. But ANYONE willing to just BREATH in a specific way at least five times a day can walk this path, and in just six weeks, an investment of about 3 hours total, find out if FIREDANCE is a valid path for you. If it is…your life will transform, I promise you.

I wish you all, every one, greater success than I have had, or am experiencing. This technology was created to compensate for massive disadvantages. Anyone with fewer disadvantages will take off like a rocket, if they can just empty their cup, tell their ego to shut the @#$$$ up, and actually perform a few short, free experiments.

Balance Child, Adult, and Elder. That’s this week’s focus on the 90-Day Self-Love Feast.

Any questions?




Steven Barnes

Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, ecstatic husband and father, and holder of black belts in three martial arts.