The Seven Levels of Personal Evolution

Those who improve with age embrace the power of personal growth and personal achievement and begin to replace youth with wisdom, innocence with understanding, and lack of purpose with self-actualization.
Bo Bennett

PERSONAL EVOLUTION PROCESS

The transformational evolution of our heart, soul, and spirit is referred to as personal evolution. We choose to go through a deliberate process to live intelligent, true, and whole lives. It is made up of seven steps:

Self-knowledge
Self-exploration
Self-discovery
Self-understanding
Self-transformation
Self-mastery
Self-realization/actualization

This transformation process, like many others, is not linear. We exist in each of these aspects to varying degrees all the time, but it is reasonable to conclude that unless we have mastered the previous ones, we will not be able to move on to the next one with fulfillment. For example, self-transformation is impossible without first learning self-love.

For a fuller understanding, let's explore each stage.

SELF-KNOWLEDGE AND SELF-EXPLORATION

Self-Knowledge
The journey begins with self-awareness, which leads to self-knowledge. This might happen in spurts due to short periods of introspection or as a complete conscious awakening. When we become aware of ourselves (from an ego-based standpoint) and how we interact with the world, we are self-conscious.
Self-awareness progresses from their prior 'unconscious condition' (also known as "being asleep") to increased self-consciousness. This can be difficult as we examine our thoughts, behaviors, choices, and ways of responding to the world. We don't always like what we see, and we shall either numb ourselves with denial or embark on a journey of self-discovery. Self-awareness is the ability to monitor one's own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors daily. A self-aware individual can recognize what they are feeling but not why they are feeling that way. A person who lacks self-awareness will constantly react to a situation impulsively.

Self-Exploration
Curiosity ("who am I?") and discontent ("I can't believe I did/said/believed that!") drive self-exploration. We want to learn more about ourselves and our place in the world. During this period, we discover how we think, feel, and act.

When we move from the "what?" to the "why?" stage of self-exploration, we are on the verge of self-discovery. While the preceding step concerns what we like/feel/do/think, the self-exploration stage is concerned with why we like/feel/do/think.

Investigating and evaluating our inner ideas, emotions, beliefs, and ideals is what self-exploration entails. We can then examine why we function the way we do after we know our internal processes (thinking, feeling, reacting, and decision making). Self-exploration is frequently a complicated process involving a great deal of introspection, observation, thoughtful deliberation, and investigation.

In terms of self-exploration, we are learning to divide our attention to be aware of both our inner selves and how we are acting outwardly.

SELF-DISCOVERY

We finally encounter self-discovery when we go deep beneath the surface of ourselves once we begin dabbling in the field of self-exploration.

The process of self-discovery seeks to answer the question, "Who am I?"

Self-discovery can be defined as the act or process of learning about or comprehending oneself. Self-discovery is inextricably related to Self-exploration since it is impossible to achieve any level of Self-discovery without first understanding oneself. People at this stage tend to learn the underlying mechanisms and facts that underpin many of their ideas, attitudes, and behaviors toward themselves and others. It is customary at this level to undertake various sorts of inner work that get to the heart of our underlying concerns.

SELF-UNDERSTANDING


The previous three levels culminate in self-knowledge, which is a thorough comprehension of the dynamics and workings of our ego selves.

People who have reached this stage have a deep awareness of the origins and causes of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They have investigated their conscious ego and their unconscious mind, where they have met their shadow selves and other buried inner scars.

Self-Understanding occurs when we learn so much about ourselves (which began in the previous stage) that it becomes incorporated information. When assimilated knowledge is actively experienced through applied usage, it becomes "knowing."

Self-Love emerges from self-awareness and is defined by a loving acceptance of our strengths and weaknesses.

Self-love is when we have compassion for ourselves and everything we've been through.
When we get into the underlying nature of our heart: love, we experience self-love. We are propelled by a deep comprehension of ourselves when we love ourselves. Practicing self-love is very difficult without self-understanding since we don't know what or why we behave, think, and feel the way we do.
Learning to love yourself entails ceasing to punish ourselves, beginning to nurture ourselves, and experiencing increased self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-forgiveness.

Individuals who practice self-love recognize that they are flawed in many ways but stop criticizing and punishing themselves for their flaws.

SELF-TRANSFORMATION

In this stage, we begin to lose the false self's (ego's) old and restricting habits, perceptions, and compulsions and evolve into the most authentic version of ourselves imaginable.

When we go through self-transformation, we start a death and rebirth cycle that can be unsettling and disruptive at first. But, in the end, whatever shift we go through is freeing. In other words, we become more soul-centered rather than ego-centered, and we feel more at ease in our own skin.

We're able to make room for new growth because of the preceding four stages. We feel more expansive, free, and grounded, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.

When we become self-aware, engage in self-exploration, and achieve self-discovery, understanding, and love, we begin to experience true inner transformation. Self-transformation can be defined as the gradual transcendence of our former confining and destructive identities, referred to as our ego selves.

Self-transformation implies that we lose our life – not our true life, but the false life of dreams and illusions that the world has conditioned and taught us to believe in. This is the point when you mature and free yourself from the shackles of cultural standards and unconscious impulses for excitement, possessions, and socially acceptable lives.

SELF-MASTERY

Stages 1-5 culminate in self-mastery. This stage is all about receiving the benefits of a well-adjusted and secure ego. Carl Jung, a psychologist, referred to this stage as individuation, or the process of becoming a whole human being who is connected to and aligned with the soul.

Instead of being captives to our egos, we live from the heart and soul, and our egos bow to and serve our souls.

When we achieve self-mastery, our inner and outward worlds become balanced, and we ascend to the position of King or Queen of our planet (everyday life). We are self-sufficient, calm, vigilant, wise, caring, and cheerful.

As a result of this new shift in awareness, the person moves beyond the restricted ego and, in this way, becomes a 'master' of it, as the ego is no longer in the driver's seat.

SELF-ACTUALIZATION

We realize ourselves as one with the Divine when we experience self-realization. We get beyond "me," "my," and "I am."

This level is also known as enlightenment, Oneness, nirvana, and cosmic consciousness.

In this level, we are free of all misery, fear, and separation. What is left is a pure brilliance of being, a total unity with life, a sensation of infinite love, connection, understanding, and openness to existence.

Getting to the point of self-realization can take a few years, decades, or, more typically, an entire lifetime. However, it is a sacred path that is well worth your time, effort, honesty, and dedication. It is, ultimately, the road of enlightenment, freedom, and love. What could be better than that?

Conclusion
Self-awareness is the point at which we muster enough bravery to confront the truth by shining a light on what we have been attempting to avoid (within ourselves and society). We soon begin to self-explore and self-discover, and with enough intensity of awareness, we start to self-understand and grow in self-love. Self-transformation begins during this entire process. With sufficient wisdom and grace, this leads to the loosening of the false ego and the experience of self-mastery, followed by self-realization.