No matter who you are, what your life looks like, your job, your mindset, your opportunities, we all go through the same five key stages throughout our lives. We all follow the same rough patterns. And our development will loosely follow the same route.
There’s a deep consistency to our development. As human beings, we’re coded in similar ways. And you can uncover plenty of insight into your own behaviour and that of others by exploring the processes we all go through.
Let’s get straight into it.
This initial stage in our early years revolves around three questions:
- Am I safe?
- Am I loved?
- And am I enough?
That’s it. That’s all this early stage comes down to. As young children we want to feel safe, loved, and enough. Simple.
And these three things will be the only reasons we ever get triggered throughout our lifetimes. From younger years through to old age. Whatever your age, anything that evokes discomfort or strong negative emotions from you will in some way be encroaching on one of these core doubts we possess.
A toxic relationship will call into question your worthiness. A traumatic experience in our home will leave us feeling unsafe. We call these ‘core fractures’.
Fracturing at this first stage impacts who you will be in future stages. If you have a traumatic experience as a young child that left you feeling unloved, this will manifest itself as a persistent fear that you’re unlovable throughout later life. You might constantly doubt your worth in your relationships, struggle with your self-esteem, or repeatedly compare yourself to others.
This stage is all about relationships. Our priorities are making friends, playing, and interacting. We’re learning how to exist with and relate to others. How to be a social being. We go to school where our biggest concerns are fitting in and seeking others to live alongside.
The third stage centres around self-esteem. It’s all about image and perception. The phrase ‘all the gear, no idea’ comes to mind. It’s why we want a hot girlfriend, a fast car, the latest fashion trends. We care deeply about how we appear to others and what they think of us.
Any fracturing at this stage – such as being taken down a peg or two by a teacher – will lead to damaged self-esteem. We’ll begin to doubt whether we’re enough. Whether there’s something fundamentally wrong with us that makes us feel we aren’t good enough.
This stage is flexible and one people will transition into at their own pace. Some will meet this stage younger, some older. This is the awakening stage. It’s when we shift into wanting to contribute more to those around us.
The superficiality of the self-esteem stage no longer serves us. We seek deep connections. We want to find a purpose and feel we’re contributing to people and the world around us.
This final stage is when we hit a much older age and become purely about service. Material possessions stop meaning as much. We’re not driven by anything other than helping others and doing good.
Fracturing of any stage
While all these stages hold potential for great development and growth, the reverse is also true. Any fracturing of these stages has the power to stick with you. Whatever stage the fracture occurred in will remain something undealt with and incomplete for you. And, as a result, you will need help and support to overcome and let any fracturing truly go – whether that’s professionally or through support from loved ones.
The way we’re coded is for cause and effect. “If I touch this, it’ll burn” or “if I tip this, it will spill”, for example. Therefore, if an effect we experience is negative or unpleasant, the cause becomes us. We see no alternative explanation or understanding. We must also be negative and unpleasant.
Relating across stages
By recognising your own stage and those of people around, your relationships and communication become stronger and more productive. You can tailor your approach to others based on the stage you know they’re at.
For example, recognising and acknowledging the stage your children are in can help you better relate to them. Rather than judging them for being at a different stage to you, you can show greater understanding and avoid any potential for fracturing their development at any stage.
Right now, your twelve-year-old daughter is preoccupied with appearing cool and independent. Instead of making light of this and causing her discomfort or embarrassment, you can acknowledge she’s building her self-esteem and self-awareness and play along. Let her have her moment of thinking she’s the bee’s knees with all her cool clothes and friends.
And while that’s not all of them, these are five key stages in our lives in a nutshell. This is just a brief insight into the five key stages of our life. How they affect our future development is a deep and winding topic. Yet human behaviour becomes so much simpler when we understand that everything comes back to our early years. It’s why delving into your past can be so effective at understanding your current behaviour.
I help my clients better understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Together, we unpack your past to identify the barriers holding you back from becoming your most authentic self. And from here, we can unlock value across your whole life – professionally and personally. If you’re interested in starting a dialogue, get in touch with me here.