Age and Wisdom:

The Human vs. Soul

A New View of Evolution

Many see age as a sign of wisdom. It is true that life experience can offer lessons that help us grow, but what about those who don’t seem to learn no matter how many times they are given the opportunity? What explains a lack of maturity despite the progression of chronological age?

For many years, I’ve spoken about what I call the age of the soul. Many of us know of someone who seems far older and wiser than their chronological age. While most people don’t question their maturity, something deeper than happenstance explains it. This is why several children within a family can act differently when faced with the same problems or challenges. This also explains why some parents act less responsible than the children they bear or why some people come to realize their spouses or partners act more like children than adults. Young soul employees can stir drama on the job and people who avoid adulthood can stay stuck in juvenile patterns.

The idea of soul age isn’t new in the spiritual world. However, even in the sparse literature that exists, there isn’t a full description that provides more than the delineation of a handful of stages and brief descriptions about behavior shown within each. However, years ago I created a “soul age spectrum”, complete with ten levels of soul development ranging from infant to ancient souls. Each level has a milestone a soul must reach and a virtue it must master in order for that soul to advance to the next level. This spectrum has helped many clients understand the troublesome relationships in their lives so they can put into perspective their approach in managing these relations.

To illustrate this more clearly consider that most people know the Star Wars character Yoda, a being who was depicted as a wise little soul. He is seen as the ultimate sage within the movie, with most characters respecting his commands. Although an actual age was never stated, he was assumed to be nearly one thousand years old. Jar Jar Binks, on the other hand, a bubble headed being who showed up in the prequel trilogy, could be viewed as a very young soul. In the series his character did mature over time but never close to the level of Yoda (my personal favorite from the movies altogether).

In human life, the age of the soul is related to not only the number of times a person has incarnated, but also whether they have learned the lessons they were supposed to in each lifetime for them to progress. If you aren’t practicing conscious evolution—attempting to consciously learn from and overcome the many challenges of the human condition—then you face the same kinds of events over and over again until you evolve beyond them. In this way, the number of lifetimes a person has experienced lends no meaning. Instead, it is what people have done to evolve within those lifetimes that makes all the difference. If a person simply goes through life without much self-awareness or effort to learn, they stay stuck.

When it comes to evolution, a person’s ability to overcome life’s challenges is also related to the age of their soul. Older souls learn from their mistakes much more quickly than young ones and in some cases can anticipate a mistake before it occurs. They tend to have a more open and worldly perspective in general, hold a wisdom about them that is sought by others and tend to always seem “ahead of the game”. They also tend to avoid and even become repelled by drama, know how to solve problems or dilemmas faster than most and also prefer to spend more time in reflection than in interaction.

Young souls never seem to be free of emotional disruption and are often the cause of it. They have a much harder time managing human life in general and seem to lean heavily on others to make decisions. These individuals also tend to struggle with adulthood, whether through instability in jobs and relationships or in tasks of everyday life. They may desperately want to appear to the world as if they have their act together, but their constant attempts somehow fall short. Young souls also often have a hard time spending time alone and do what they can to avoid self-reflection.

Although most people only acknowledge the awareness of older souls or young souls, there are several levels of soul development in between.  

While this article doesn’t lend itself to a full explanation of each level, below are some rules of thumb I like to share when educating people about the age of the soul:

  • Parents can only parent up to their soul level. While a parent might be middle or older aged adults in chronological terms, they can still act like children or younger if their souls have not matured.
  • It is not uncommon for younger souls to be drawn to older ones, simply for the sake of needing someone to take care of them. Older souls often fall in the trap of becoming attached to those younger than them because they automatically know what that person needs in order to survive.
  • Old souls may appear to be antisocial or introverted, but many simply need time away from the dramatic nature and stress of spending time around those who are far younger. (I joke that Yoda lived alone in a swamp for a reason. He was simply trying to create a quiet space away from those who created drama or constantly needed attention.)
  • Young souls have a difficult time “adulting”. They struggle or even avoid responsible action.
  • Older souls often feel alone because those of similar chronological age seem less mature to them. They are far less likely to engage in trends or generational patterns and behaviors. 
  • Integrity is of high value to older souls, whereas for younger souls priority might be more focused on immediate needs and reactions.
  • Soul age ranges from infant to ancient souls—those who lack emotional maturity and awareness to those who are extremely conscious, grounded and evolved beings. Each is on their journey and each level poses both benefits and challenges, depending on how you look at their situations.
  • It is not ‘better’ to be an older soul, just different. All souls are on their path and each is to be accepted.

There are many other ways to recognize young vs. old souls which will be further explored in the future. For now, simply keep in mind that it often helps to explain a person’s behavior and ability to both heal and evolve as they experience the human condition. No matter what age a soul may be, we are all here to learn and grow from one another. Together, we create the human condition.

No one enjoys being a newbie, but in fact, the benefit of being a new soul is that they carry around a lot less karma.

~~ Randi Merzon

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Katherine T. Kelly Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

With 35+ years of direct clinical experience, Dr. Kelly doesn’t just believe in helping others to heal; instead, her mission is to help them to evolve. Using her own integrative and trademarked framework—the Soul Health Model—Dr. Kelly approaches her work with clients from a “whole person” or “whole organization” perspective. She provides a uniquely progressive, yet down-to-earth approach and is well-known in therapeutic, medical and corporate communities. She thrives as she helps clients and organizations to reach what she calls “conscious evolution” through a variety of self-designed strategies. Her dedication to healing has been widely recognized as she was the recipient of the Provider of the Year Award by the regional Mental Health Association and was nominated as an Incredible Woman for a local community television network, which spotlights role models to inspire young women to pursue their own passions.

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