I, honestly, don’t know where I stumbled upon this information, but I frequently read articles and make “drafts” or just a title for a post and then go back later to actually write & post it. I’m sure I thought the subject matter was interesting as I was becoming a “jammie” earlier this year and posting it now…as I’ll become a “jammie” again in the coming weeks…. just seemed like a good time to reflect….and it’s the end of the year, so why not. I’m honestly just really interested in psychology and what makes people act or live their lives a certain way. If I liked school I’d go back and get a degree in psychology, but I don’t and I won’t…so I’ll just read articles, summarize what I’ve learned and post the info here! So, here you go…
The psychologist Erik Erikson, (who, by the way, didn’t have a bachelor’s degree but a diploma from the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute…maybe I could do that??) like Freud, observed that our lives progress in eight predetermined stages, and that each stage has challenges and tasks that are built upon for the following stages. Successful completion of each stage forms a person’s personality and virtues. I find this fascinating! He was especially interested in how children socialize and how it affects their sense of self.
The first five stages take place before age 18. Failure to complete each stage makes it harder to move through subsequent stages and therefore results in a lower self esteem and sense of self (AKA arrested development??…I think so) It is possible, however, to go back and resolve some issues in order to move successfully through to the subsequent stages (hello…good therapy!)
I’m not going to go through all the stages, but thought I’d look at the last two, since that’s where so many of my friends/family have recently been and/or are headed. Sorry kids, you’ll have to look up the earlier stages for yourselves if you’re interested. The last two stages are 1. Generativity vs. Stagnation and 2. Ego integrity vs. Despair
Generativity occurs in middle adulthood, between age 40 and 65. This is a time to generate, to give back to the world through work and raising children who are contributing members of society. We are fulfilled by caring for the younger generation and giving back to our communities. Makes sense! Success in this stage leads to the virtue of caring….and making the world a better place.
In the last stage of life….the one many of us are moving quickly towards….our challenge is to “let go of ego and to find fulfillment and wisdom in our connection with the greater world.” (sorry, not sure where I got that quote…I apologize to the website I poached it from months ago??) In other words, we look back at our lives, sum up our accomplishments and, hopefully, are proud of the life we’ve led, the accomplishments we’ve had & the contributions we’ve made for the greater good of society and the world. We let go of things and focus on the memories and good things we’ve accomplished, knowing we’ve left the world a better place.
Conversely, if we are not proud, see our lives as unproductive, have guilt and the feeling of not accomplishing all that we wanted, then this stage can lead to despair. Being dissatisfied with our lives up to this point can lead to depression and hopelessness.
That’s just a bummer….but that doesn’t mean you can’t change! It reminds me of my tag-line You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! At this point in your life, if you can’t look back and be proud of the life you’ve led, than the only thing you can do is change it from here on out. It’s pretty much that simple. You don’t get back yesterday, but you hopefully have a thousand tomorrows to, in the end, be proud of your life.