There is no arguing that we will go through different stages or times in our life, each with their own individual experiences, rewards, and challenges. Consider, for a moment, the person that you whereas you graduated from high school, heading out into the world confident yet overwhelmed by the world before us.
Most of us will agree that at that point in our lives we were quite different than we either were or expect ourselves to be, as we near retirement. However, is there more to the passing of time and personal growth than just our movement through these periods of development?
While many great minds in the world of psychiatry have their own theories in relation to personal growth throughout our lives, there is one theory that has been attributed to Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung that remains highly studied and accepted. Well known for his work in the areas of personality and the collective unconscious, Jung theorized that there were 4 basic stages of life that we would work through. These stages weren’t associated with any set age range or period of accomplishment, like during school versus your first established career. Instead, they are a reflection of who we are at that time, reflecting our motivations and mental state.
Even more interestingly, Jung explained that while there are 4 clear stages of life, we won’t always find ourselves moving through them in a linear fashion. Instead, he described life as far more complicated. As we face different situations and seasons of life, he explained, we may move forward and backward through these stages. Each stage plays an important role, allowing us to not only manage our lives but to truly succeed.
Here are Carl Jung’s 4 Stages of Life. Which stage are you currently in?
#1 – The Athlete
This is a stage of life in which we are often described as self-absorbed or narcissistic. Despite everything that may be going on in the world around us, we are focused on ourselves and our self image. This self-consideration is largely surface level, focusing on our appearance, the shape of our bodies and the way that the world sees us. While this may sound like a negative stage to be in, it does serve a purpose. One may return to the athlete stage, for example, at a time when they are focused on losing weight and getting back in shape. While most people will move in and out of this stage throughout life, there are some that will spend their lives trapped her, unable to see beyond their own selfish interests and desires.
#2 – The Warrior
As people open their minds to a deeper way of considering the world around them, they may move into the warrior stage. This is the point in life where you begin to acknowledge where you are going in life, who you are going to be, and what will be required in order to get there. During this stage you will begin to set clear goals for your life. For some, these goals will be lofty, prepared to take on the world and leave their mark, while for others, the goals will be more reserved, focused on a specific career path or way of living. Regardless, you begin to lay out an objective and a plan for how you plan on reaching it. If you have ever hit a point in life where you questioned if you were doing what you were supposed to, and decided to reassess your life, changing careers or the direction you are headed, then you likely returned to this stage.
#3 – The Statement
While the warrior stage revolves around the development of goals for your own personal journey in life, those that move into the statement stage will now start to focus their energy on how their life is impacting those around them. You no longer see personal success as the ultimate goal in life, focusing your attention, instead, on how to build others up and help them to move forward in their own lives. This is a stage that is often associated with parenting but can also be applied to those that dedicate their lives to the development of others including teachers, caregivers and those who dedicate their lives to volunteering for a cause. If you are currently in this stage, then you understand that the best way to leave your mark on this world is to touch the heart of others.
#4 – The Spirit
A stage that many will never reach, this is the point where you no longer see your life as the important focus. Instead, you recognize that your life is only one tiny part of a much larger picture. For some, this stage will come through dedication to a specific religion, giving their life over to the idea of a higher power and their plan for eternity. Others, however, will take a spiritual approach separate from organized religion, focusing their attention on the energy of the universe. It is at this point that we are able to let go of any challenges, hurts or struggles of our current life, realizing that our time on Earth is merely a blip in a much larger timeline. Reaching this stage doesn’t mean that you will stay here. Many will find themselves questioning their faith at one time or another in life, moving backwards again through the stages, but those who are here are living in a state of true spiritual awakening.
Image via Deviant Art