When you decide to follow your own path, it becomes difficult to quantify your growth. I mean – how can you measure your growth when the only benchmark for comparison is against yourself? Growth is not linear either – we might plateau at one point, then have a massive shift in consciousness at once.
Recently, I discovered that there are 5 levels of consciousness development. This has given me huge perspective on where I am in my own development – and I hope it does for you too.
Check it out – what stage are you at and aspire to reach?
Stage 1 – The Egocentric Self
This stage is from birth until around the age of 16. The younger we are, the more we lack true empathy and use others to meet our needs. As we reach towards adolescence, we gradually become aware that the world does not revolve around us and begin to give up egocentric agendas for membership in society.
Research has shown that 15% of adults do not fully make the transition beyond the egocentric self. This can largely be seen in individuals who display traits of being narcissistic, sociopaths or psychopaths.
Stage 2 – The Socialised Self
Once we integrate as members of a larger society, we take and identify ourselves with our roles. Our sense of self feels secure and valuable by belonging to socially accepted roles. At this stage, we are unaware of how our goals and behaviours are pre-determined by others in our culture and we create an illusion of autonomy.
We learn to be interpersonal with others, but not intimate with our heart and higher calling of passion and purpose. At this stage, we tend to suppress our feelings and have difficulty dealing with frustration and anger because it jeopardizes relationships. Instead, we feel sadness or incompleteness and choose to settle for the belief ‘this is just the way life is’.
Stage 3 – The Independent Self
With enough suffering around our current circumstances, there comes a point when we can no longer ignore the calling of our soul. Something much deeper is calling us to follow a higher path and to continue pursuing our aspirations and dreams. We don’t always know what exactly we’re looking for – but we know something has to change.
We realise that following our own path means disappointing others, risking failure and breaking the formal links with society. We are prepared to let go of our self image and challenge deeply held beliefs that our worth and value are tied to action.
This is by far one of the most difficult and rewarding life decisions to make – to let go and challenge everything we once knew to find out who we truly are and what we desire. We learn to be more self reflective and grow our awareness about what is authentic and inauthentic in our lives. Our actions become an authentic expression of inner purpose.
The reality is, only around 25% of adults compete this transformational process of adult life. It’s a difficult and lonely process to follow your heart’s calling and challenge everything you were conditioned to believe.
Stage 4 – The Integral Self
At this stage, we have a clearer understanding of the systems and groups that have shaped us and we are part of. We learn to seek out information that helps us change our behaviour and are capable of constructive criticism about ourselves. Once we begin to understand our sense of self, we are capable of true connection with others.
We learn to embrace the whole complexity of our personality – all the good, bad, light and dark components – as making us complete. We equally appreciate other people as complex multi-dimensional beings. It is also a stage where we start stripping away the dogma of religion to adopt a more spiritual practice.
Only about 1% of adults reach this stage, with another 14% transitioning to achieve it.
Stage 5 – The Sacred Self
We can only reach the sacred self with a long term spiritual practice. Up to this point, the self is located within the body and mind. We learn to identify with the callings of our soul and appreciate our integral self is useful for acting in the world. We learn to surrender, follow our higher calling and see the interconnectedness in the world to give birth to universal compassion.
If you manage to reach this place in your lifetime – you’ve lived a bad-ass life.
What stage are you?
I would say i’m between Stage 3 and Stage 4. Although there may be times we may appear to move backwards in our development, the recovery is usually rapid. When we return to our current level of consciousness, we are able to perceive events with a new level of complexity. The truth is, we can’t return to ignorance once we are aware.
I find that when working with people in any sort of supportive role, such as a coaching or therapy, it requires them to be transitioning from Stage 2 to Stage 3. You can’t help someone who doesn’t believe that something needs to change.
It takes a certain amount of experience and pain to create a depth of character, allowing a new awareness to be born. When we are open to change the possibilities are endless to our personal growth.