Concerning the Maturation of the Self

By George A. Boyd © 2019

Q: Why is it the people who are purportedly so spiritually advanced, but who act in a manipulative and cruel way?

A: This is because, even through their Soul may have advanced along its Path through the Continuum—or the spiritual essence with which they identify has made progress on its delineated track towards the origin they perceive—they have not reached mature states of functioning at the level of the personality. You can visualize these levels of personality functioning as a series of “self states.” There appear to be 14 major self states through which people express:

  1. Primal symbiosis – your self is merged with your mother; you sense you are one organism
  2. Dependent self – You need your mother’s nourishment and continual care. You are not able to care for yourself.
  3. Autonomous self – You are able to take action for yourself to complete simple tasks. You seek attention and praise for your achievements.
  4. Superior self – You complete with others. You seek to prove your superiority over others.
  5. Cruel self – You use your superiority to coerce others into doing what you want. You may bully or belittle others.
  6. Manipulative self – You use others to get what you need through manipulating the information you disclose to them and what emotions you display to them. Once you get what you want, you abandon them.
  7. Defensive self – You evade and conceal letting others know about your true motives through using lies and diversion to avoid taking responsibility for your behavior. You might feel shame, guilt or fear under the surface, but you hide it from others through an elaborate series of defenses. You may use people who are loyal to you to act as your defenders.
  8. Repentant self – You feel vulnerable and frightened. You begin to disclose your genuine feelings and needs. You communicate clearly and honestly. You take responsibility for your actions and make amends to those you have harmed when this is possible. In religious groups, confession, contrition, and repentance mark this stage. This is a key stage of maturation to enable you to achieve intimacy with others, and to facilitate emotional healing and recovery from trauma and addiction.
  9. Helpful self – You are engage in doing acts of kindness and express caring towards others. You begin to be conscientious: you want to do an excellent job and produce a quality product. You control what you say and do, so you won’t hurt others.
  10. Principled self – You live up to your moral values or a code of honor. You become capable of acting with integrity.
  11. Disciplined self – You are able to work, sacrifice, and dedicate yourself to a superior development of a skill, a creative pursuit, or a religious or political cause. You put in long hours and maintain intense focus on this subject.
  12. Inclusive self – You are able to empathize and care for others. You can intuitively enter the experience of others: you deeply understand them and can intuit their needs. At this stage you become capable of becoming a loving parent.
  13. Collective self – You are able to work on the needs and issues of a group beyond your role as a parent or caretaker for family and relatives. You are engaged in the issues and needs of larger groups—a company, community, state, nation, or in the international arena. You become capable of taking on projects that are for the collective good. At this stage, your Soul purpose typically overshadows your self.
  14. Divinized self – You experience union of your sense of self with the Divine. At this stage, you become a God Realized being or an Avatar.

People usually don’t express a single self state: they typically express through a range of self states. But one of these self states may be dominant. For example:

  • A dominant narcissistic individual might primarily function through self states 3-7.
  • A born again Christian, or someone in recovery from addiction might operate through self states 8-10.
  • Someone training to be an Olympic athlete or a dedicated military officer would manifest self states 10-11.
  • The true blossoming of parenting fructifies as self state 12; gifted psychotherapists also act through this self state.
  • Those who can selflessly transcend personal and family life to contribute to the community manifest through self state 13.
  • Rare spiritual Masters consciously embody the Divine as an Avatar at self state 14.

Let’s examine how you are functioning:

What is your self state range?

What is your dominant self state, the one you most commonly express?

If you were going to assign a percentage to how much time you spend operating in these self states, how much of your time to you spend in each one?

What would enable you to move from the upper range of your self states to the next level?

What holds you back from moving to the self state of the next level?

What self states have you outgrown?

The Master Kung Tse (Confucius) made the distinction between the first seven of these self states, which he called the “inferior man;” and the last seven of these self states, which he called the “superior man.” To move from one self state to another requires:

  1. Physical, emotional, and mental maturation
  2. Working out the issues that keep you from moving into this next self state
  3. Letting go of the outmoded behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of the old self state

We recommend that you contemplate these 14 self states, so you can identify:

Which self states do you no longer embody that you formerly operated through?

Which self states do you embody now?

Which self states you could you inhabit in the future? (Pay attention to what needs to be mastered or overcome to move into this self state.)

For some of you, moving to the next self state seems difficult. You feel you are stuck in old patterns. You’ve never learned the skills to fully actualize your human potential. The influences of your past seem to hold you back.

Those of you who are experiencing these inner limitations may benefit from a coaching experience:

  • Those of you who have never learned the skills to actualize your potential may benefit from our Life Coaching Program.
  • Those of you who had negative spiritual experiences in a cultic group may receive help re-owning your life through our Cult Recovery Coaching Program.
  • Those of you who have lingering issues from your experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family may find your pathway to becoming whole through our Dysfunctional Family Coaching Program.
  • Those of you who are recovering from an addiction may reconnect with their inner sources of strength and wisdom to enable them to avoid relapse and to facilitate their personal growth with our Addiction Recovery Coaching Program.

You can learn more about our coaching programs here.