(Based on the work of Carl Jung)
Carl Jung identified four distinct stages in all people’s lives. These stages have nothing to do with what we do for living, how old we are, what we have achieved or how much money we make. Also, these stages are not necessarily linear. We do not have to complete one of them so we can move to the next. We can step in or out of different stages, at different phases of our life.
The Athlete Stage – The period of Mimicry
At this stage, we are primarily concerned with our body and how we look to others. We can look at our mirror image for hours observing our external appearance.
We try things out and develop our first insecurities. We begin to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. We come into contact with our emotions and try to understand how they affect us. We feel a constant need for acceptance and validation, and there is a complete absence of personal values and independent thinking. Mainly, we imitate others (parents, teachers, friends), having very little room for autonomy.
The purpose of this stage is to teach us how the world works.
The Warrior Stage: The phase of Self-discovery
Here we begin to identify where we differ from others and find our first place in society. We understand we are unique. We begin to make our own decisions and try our limits. We cautiously move out of our safety zone and experiment with new places, people and things. Progressively, we find out what works for us and what doesn’t, we keep the first and drop the second. This is how we move forward and evolve.
Here, we also strive to be better than others. We want to conquer the world. We like to accumulate things. We always want to have more. We are going through a phase of comparison and competition.
At this stage it is very important to learn our limits and limitations, to understand at what we are good and what we can do well. Life gives us endless choices, and since we cannot have them all, it is wise to stick to the ones that suit us best.
The Stage of Declaration: The age of Commitment
Here we consolidate all the knowledge and experience we have gained in the two previous stages. We now know what works for us and what doesn’t, we understand where we excel and where we suck. We know what inspires us and what holds us back. Which of our activities lead us somewhere and which take us nowhere. Which of our friends and acquaintances fill us with energy and which leave us empty.
At the same time, we realize that despite what we have achieved or acquired, we do not feel fulfilled or happy. We are looking for ways to make a difference in the world. We want to make a clear statement of who we are and what we are trying to accomplish. We feel the need to offer to others.
What we have hunted so far (money, power or material goods) will continue to appear in our lives, but are no longer as valuable to us as before. We now know that there is more to life than these. We receive them, we accept them and we are grateful for them, but we are ready to leave them anytime.
The Stage of the Spirit: The Time of Heritage
Now, we have realized what is meaningful to us and what it is important. We have worked through all of our life, we had various accomplishments and we earned all we have today. From now on, we are not interested in achieving more, since our age and energy levels do not allow it, but in ensuring that what we have gained will continue to exist and be valued after we have left.
At this stage we realize that in none of the preceding stages we got to know our true selves. We understand that we are much more than our possessions, friends, family and our entire environment.
We also understand that we are not going to linger on this planet for long. We come closer to spiritual and “divine” pursuits. We become the observers of our lives. And we are interested in the legacy we will leave.
Which of the above stages have you experienced?
In which do you live today?