By Brianna Wiest
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the work of Carl Jung, you’re probably aware of what he contributed to the field of analytical psychology. His is the mind behind the concepts of archetypes, extroversion, introversion, the collective unconscious, and so on.
Though there are a handful of personality typing systems that are relatively well-known (Myers Briggs, for example, was also developed based on Jung’s ideas) there are still a number that are less utilized, such as the theory that human maturity is dependent on mindset, not age.
Jung defines four specific “stages” at which people function, describing how they prioritize life, how they process experiences, and how they perceive the world. Each indicates a different level of mental maturity, ultimately indicating that our lives are products of how we perceive them, not what they objectively seem to be.
The Athlete Stage
This stage is marked by a preoccupation with physical appearances. This is when we have to come to terms with how our bodies, and lives, look to other people. Through this, we are able to identify our strengths and develop our insecurities. We base our self-concept on a comparison to the world around us, and through this, we create our own version of reality. We are able to sense how others react to us and how that makes us feel, and our feelings become our primary priority.
The Warrior Stage
This stage is defined by a preoccupation with what we can “get.” It is when we realize that certain feelings are the product of actions and patterns, and if we utilize them correctly we can “get” a lot of those good feelings. This is when we begin to utilize comparative thought to maximize and inflate our sense of self We desire things solely based on the reward we think we can reap from it. We want to be “the best” so we can just be better than others; we frequently impose our own will with little regard to how others will experience it, as we only care about how we feel. Our desires are for wealth, influence, control and admiration.
The Statement Stage
This stage is marked by the point we reach at which we realize the things we were chasing only served our egos. We realize we are unfulfilled, and desire new ways of life. We begin to realize how damaging comparativeness is, and we begin to understand that physical belongings do not make us “wealthy,” admiration does not make us loved, and being superior does not make us accepted. We have many things in our lives, but none are true happiness.
At this point, we are able to realize the use and importance of the physical world, but there is also an understanding of something just beyond that: our mental and emotional lives. We begin to realize that our worldly desires are in direct opposition from being at peace or finding happiness, and so we set out to discard what doesn’t matter in order to make room for what could.
At this point, we begin to find happiness in service to others, fulfillment of our genuine potential, and acquiring the wisdom that the ego desperately needs to be dismantled.
The Spirit Stage
The last stage is a point of personal development that not everyone will reach in their lives. The Spirit Stage is when you recognize that the point of life is soul development, and that the experiences you’ve been through – good and bad alike – were growing tools. In this stage, you begin to develop internally, and you begin to realize that you have always been the person you are, it was only your idea of yourself that faltered.
In this stage, you disassociate from your attachment to labels or archetypes and begin to view yourself as a constantly evolving being. You detach from the desire to control outcomes, you begin to recognize and accept impermanence, and you begin to truly enjoy the journey of your life, seeing the purpose in each part of it.
It is also at this point that you can become a teacher to others. When you are self-aware enough to recognize the different aspects of who you are, you can evaluate them, detect patterns, and it is through a deep understanding of your internal workings that you can truly understand, and love, others.