Every human being grows in stages of psychological development, operates at levels of consciousness and makes decisions about how to get their needs met based on their worldview.
Just as we can mark where we are in the passage of our lives by the seven stages of development model, we can mark where we are at any moment in time by the Seven Levels of Consciousness model.
Normally, the level of consciousness we operate from will coincide with the stage of development we have reached. However, if we encounter a situation that triggers one of our limiting survival, safety or security beliefs we will immediately drop down to one of the first three levels of consciousness. For example, if I am 36 years old—in the middle of the individuating stage of development—and I lose my job and my savings, I will immediately drop down to the survival level of consciousness.
The seven levels of personal consciousness are shown in the following table. The first column names the stages of psychological development. The second column names the level of consciousness associated with the stage of psychological development. The third column indicates some of the positive values that are found at each level of consciousness, and the fourth column indicates some of the potentially limiting values that show up at the first three levels of consciousness--the stages of ego development.
Stages of development and levels of consciousness
Level 1: Survival consciousness
The first level of personal consciousness is all about survival. To survive, we need clean air, water and wholesome food to keep our bodies healthy and fit, and we need to feel financially secure. How you deal with survival situations as an adult depends on the conditioning you received as a baby. If you had difficulties getting your survival needs met—your parents ignored you when you cried, or you felt abandoned—you will be very cautious as an adult, you may also become a micro-manager because you feel that you cannot trust other people to take care of your needs. Whenever you have anything that feels like a survival challenge, your fear-based limiting beliefs from childhood will be triggered. You may become anxious and emotionally upset. Your anxiety will come from the limiting belief that you will not be able to control your environment to get your needs met. If on the other hand, your needs were always met as a baby, you will be able to handle survival situations without too much stress. In this case, no matter what happens, you will feel confident in being able to control the situation.
Level 2: Relationship consciousness
The second level of personal consciousness is all about safety. To feel safe, we need to feel loved and protected. We need to feel a sense of belonging. How you deal with relationship situations as an adult depends on the conditioning you received as a child. If you had difficulties getting your safety needs met during the conforming stage of development, you will be suspicious of others as an adult. Also, if you didn’t feel loved, you may appear needy or want to be liked. Whenever you feel you don’t belong or don’t feel loved and cared for as an adult—your fear-based limiting beliefs from childhood will be triggered and you may become anxious or emotionally upset. If on the other hand, if you felt unconditionally loved as a child and always felt safe and protected, you will be able to take care of your relationship and needs later on in life.
Level 3: Self-esteem consciousness
The third level of personal consciousness is about feeling secure in your community. To feel secure, we need to feel accepted and respected by our peers and recognized by those in positions of authority. How you deal with self-esteem challenges as an adult depends on the conditioning you received as a teenager. If you had difficulties getting your security needs met during the differentiating stage of development, you will lack confidence as an adult. Whenever you experience anything that feels like a self-esteem challenge—when you don’t feel good enough—your fear-based limiting beliefs from your teenage years will be triggered, and you may become anxious and emotionally upset. If on the other hand, you were acknowledged and recognized for who you were as a teenager—if you always felt accepted and had a good relationship with your parents, peers and authority figures—you will be able to handle your security needs later on in life.
Level 4: Transformation consciousness
The fourth level of human consciousness is about finding freedom and autonomy. You will want to discover who you are beyond the parental programming and cultural conditioning you received during your formative years. At this stage of development, you will be asking questions such as “Who am I?” and “What is important to me?” Only when you find answers to these questions, will you discover your true (soul) self. Fully expressing who you are without fear of what others may think or say, particularly your parents, peers, spouse and the authority figures in your life, gives you the opportunity to make choices that are more in alignment with who you are. The prize that comes with the pursuit of this self-understanding and knowledge is the independence and the ability to operate with integrity. When you discover and express who you are you can remove your ego mask and march to your tune, not to the tune that has been imposed on you by others.
Level 5: Internal cohesion consciousness
The fifth level of human consciousness is about finding meaning in your life—finding what your soul came into the world to do. At this level of consciousness, the question is no longer “Who am I?” but “Why am I here in this body?” and “How can I fully express myself?” For those who do not feel a particular sense of purpose, this can be a daunting inquiry. For others, who are gifted with a particular talent, your purpose will be obvious. If you are not sure of your purpose, simply focus on what you love to do and pay attention to what is immediately in front of you. Whatever it is, do it to the best of your ability. Alternatively just follow your joy, develop your most obvious talents, and pursue your passion.
Many people do not discover their purpose until quite late in life. However, when they look back, they realize that all the twists and turns had a reason—to prepare you to give the gift you were born to give—to fully express your true nature. When you find your purpose, it may feel like something small, or it may feel like something large. Whatever it is, you need to recognize that it is what your soul came to do, and if you follow the promptings of your soul you will find a sense of meaning and fulfillment in your life. Your life will become a journey of synchronicity, constantly unfolding in front of you. Be assured, when you commit your energy to your soul purpose, all manner of unexpected events will occur to support you.
Your focus on passion and purpose may mean giving up a way of life that brings you comfort, stability and certainty. It may mean moving location, giving up friends, or risking your financial stability. In short, it may feel scary. But it is not something you should avoid. You will never be at ease with yourself—you will not find internal stability—if you do not follow your passion. If you don’t follow the promptings of your soul, you will spend the rest of your life feeling unfulfilled, depressed or living with regrets.
Level 6: Making a difference consciousness
The sixth level of human consciousness is about making a difference in the world—in your family, your workplace, in your community or nation, or in our global society. If you are a leader operating at this level of consciousness, you will realize that your ability to fulfill your purpose is strongly conditioned by your ability to connect with others and facilitate the work of those who support you. Enlightened leaders understand that it is through others—their followers—that they make an impact in the world. The more easily you can connect and empathize with others, the easier it will be for you to fulfill your destiny. Whether you are a leader or not, making a difference, always implies connecting with others in unconditional loving relationships.
Level 7: Service consciousness
The seventh level of human consciousness is about selfless service to the cause or the work which allows you to use your gifts and talents--the work you were born to do. You reach this level of consciousness when making a difference becomes a way of life--when you surrender to your soul. You are now fully imbued with your soul’s purpose and living the life of a soul-infused personality. You are at ease with uncertainty and embrace whatever opportunities come your way. You feel as if you are being guided by your soul.
At this stage of development, you may find yourself needing time for quiet and reflection. You will be seeking the inspiration you need from your soul so that you can live and breathe your purpose every moment of your life. You will know when you are operating from this level of consciousness because there will be nothing else for you to do. You will not want to “retire” because that would close down your self-expression and take the meaning out of your life. What you previously considered work, now becomes your play. At this level of consciousness, you let the doing flow through the being.
When you reach the latter years of your life, you may be fortunate enough to have learned how to master every stage of psychological development—your ego needs and your soul desires—and you will be able to operate from Full-Spectrum Consciousness. When you are operating from Full-Spectrum Consciousness, you can respond appropriately to all situations that life throws at you with inner calm—without fear, upset or anxiety. Individuals experiencing. People operating from Full-Spectrum Consciousness display the following attributes:
- They master their survival needs by staying healthy, looking after their bodies and their financial security and keeping safe from harm and injury.
- They master their relationship needs by building friendships and family connections that create a sense of love and belonging.
- They master their self-esteem needs by building a strong sense of self-worth and acting responsibly and reliably in everything they do.
- They master their transformation needs by having the courage to embrace their authentic selves; living their values and managing or overcoming the fears that keep them focused on their deficiency needs.
- They master their internal cohesion needs by uncovering and embracing their soul’s purpose, expressing their creativity and thereby finding meaning in life.
- They master their making a difference needs through actualizing their sense of purpose and leveraging their actions in the world by connecting with others in unconditional loving relationships.
- They master their service needs by devoting their life to their sense of purpose and making a lasting contribution to well-being of humanity or the planet in service to current and future generations.