As we wander through this journey which is called life, we go through some fundamental changes.
A lot of people use the terms “quarter-life crisis” or “middle age” in order to define where they think they are in their lives on the way. But, some think that there are not destinations in life. There are milestones of course, but we can usually come back to the same places at which we were before. This is what people usually love about the Four Stages of Life of the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung.
These stages, as he described them, have to do with who we are as people and our motivations too. They have nothing to do with our age or what we accomplished, and throughout our lives, we usually move forward and backward from these stages. The famous psychologists said:
Completely unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Even worse, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.
This is the phase in our lives when we are at our most self-absorbed. There are people in our lives who have never made it out of the athlete phase or usually revert to it. Of the four stages, this one tends to be the least mature. It is usually characterized by being obsessed with our physical bodies, as well as appearance. For instance, watch teenagers walk past a mirror. It is an example of an athlete phase which can be narcissistic, critical, or even both of them.
Moving forward in life, people reach the second phase, which is the warrior phase. This is where we start taking on responsibilities and get the desire to conquer the world. Well, perhaps not the world for some of us, but this is the phase when we become more goal oriented. Suddenly, we can see the objectives which we want to accomplish, and the vanity of the athlete phase starts fading. This phase is really characterized by struggles in our lives which early adulthood can give us. Also, the warrior phase is the most common one which people revert to throughout their lives as they “re-invent” themselves.
When the warrior stage of our lives is ending, we will find ourselves asking: “What have I done for other people?” Then, our focuses will shift from our achievements to accomplishing goals which are based on forwarding the lives of others. This phase is usually associated with parenting, as our focus becomes providing a better life for our children, and what it is we have to do that. The statement phase for a lot of people is much more than a connection to parenting, and it is more about leaving a legacy or a footprint in life. It is actually a time when we have to reflect on what we have accomplished and how we can continue moving forward – not just for ourselves, but also for others in our life. As far as maturity goes, this phase is actually a huge step forward from even the warrior phase.
This is the final stage of life. During the spirit phase, we realize that we are more than what we have accumulated – be it money, friends, possessions, as well as good deeds or milestones in life. We are all spiritual beings. We realized that we are divine beings in a journey of life which has no real beginning and no end. The last stage of life is characterized by a sense of “getting out of your own mind”, as well as focusing on what is waiting for us beyond our physical beings. The famous philosopher Lao Tzu proposed a question over 2500 years ago which perfectly describes this phase:
Can you step back from your mind and thus understand all things? Giving birth and nourishing, as well as having without possessing, leading and not trying to control, acting with no expectations: this is the supreme virtue.
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