There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding, which constitutes a new hope and a new responsibility for all.
~~ Erik Erikson
Much like the child develops over time, so does the soul. Chronologically speaking, this is a linear process. Experientially, much must happen in order for one to truly be considered an “adult”.
German-born psychologist Erik Erikson is known as the father of psychosocial development. Through his work in childhood psychoanalysis, he created what is known as the benchmark theory of human personality, with stages ranging from 0-18 months through old age. While many have studied the human psyche to great extent, few have acknowledged the inborn influence of the soul. After over three decades of working in the area of psychology and behavioral health, it is clear to me that our experience of life goes far beyond the human layer. The depth and wisdom we inherently hold when we are born—the age of our soul upon birth—appears to be the ultimate factor in how we will proceed through the stages of human development. While it may be easier to think that an individual only receives one chance to get life “right”, consideration of the age of one’s soul more fully explains the uniqueness of any given person’s experience within the human condition.
As most theories evolve, my observations about the human condition led me to realize that nothing is as it seems and everything goes much deeper than we first realize. Although I learned about numerous theories of personality development throughout my education, none completely and effectively explained the complexity of the human experience. This became particularly clear the more I studied spiritual psychology and spiritual concepts in general.
In essence, both human- and soul development intertwine to create our every-day experience within the human condition; explaining one without the other doe not—and cannot—fully account for or explain the “whole” of an individual’s life.
Years ago I created a soul evolution model, much like Erikson’s. My Soul Age Spectrum consists of ten primary levels of soul evolution. Due to the nature of the lessons within each “age”, I’ve divided them into five subgroups: The Reliant (“Infant”, “Toddler”, and “Child” Souls), The Self-Determined (“Pre-Teen” and “Adolescent Souls”) The Synthesizer (“Young-“, “Middle-“, and “Older-Adult Souls”), The Mentor (“Old Souls”) and The Sage (“Ancient Souls”). I’ve intentionally used terms that are easily identifiable in the field of human development to provide a context for the “personality” of the soul. However, keep in mind that this applies to soul age, not the chronological age of an individual’s identity. For each “age”, the spectrum provides a Virtue—a desirable outcome, a Milestone—a task that must be learned by a person of that soul age to reach the next level, a Challenge—the emotional trait related to respective soul ages, and a brief description of a person fitting that particular age of the soul.
Whether or not you ascribe to the concept of reincarnation, evolution depends on our ability to overcome life’s day-to-day challenges. The better we become at navigating human life, the more refined our responses and actions become and the less we struggle in our experience of the human condition. This refinement is not only a sign of emotional maturity, it is a sign of soul evolution. Under extreme stress, it is natural to revert back to less mature reactions to some extent, but those who have solidified their growth have evolved beyond previous stages so much so that their responses still seem grounded and mature in later levels of soul development.