Enlightened Living

Meaning and mindfulness in everyday life

Stages of Development and Developing Social Intelligence

Holding Space, Part I: It's all about ME!, ME!!, ME!!!

When we talk about human development, we can consider it as occurring in three phases. The first phase is pre-centric, the second is ego-centric and the third phase is a geo-centric. This is also sometimes referred to as prepersonal, personal and transpersonal.

The pre-centric phase is basically defined by the period beginning in utero through about the age of four or five, until which time a clearly differentiated sense of self has not yet developed. The ego-centric phase occurs from this point of differentiation, or individuation as Jung called it, forward through the lifespan. The world-centric view is a bit more elusive, developing as an individual begins to recognize that there is something larger -- a greater good, a bigger picture, etc.

In early development, the ego-centric phase waxes and wanes. From the point of individuation until about the beginning of the "tweens" there is a waxing or intensifying of "Me-ness" in a child. During the "tweens" stage of development -- when social connection becomes a priority -- the focus on ‘self' and ‘I' tends to wane to a certain degree. This ego-centricness once again intensifies through the period of adolescence; adolescence is typically defined as the teen years through the early 20s. Ego-centricity is particularly intense during the teen years, as anyone who has experienced the abject narcissism of a teenager is well aware.

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A transition to a more geo-centric view occurs when an individual's relationship to the world is no longer centered upon themselves. S/he begins to recognize that s/he plays a relative part in the world at large. Sadly, this does not always happen, and, because it does not always happen, there is a tendency for the ego-centric phase to be dominant throughout the lifespan.

That said, all of us do in some way or another experience some sense of the world-centric view, whether we choose to act upon it is a different matter. Recognizing, acknowledging and acting upon this world-centric or transpersonal awareness in a positive and progressive manner is at the core of social intelligence.

© 2008 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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Michael J. Formica, M.S., M.A., Ed.M., is a psychotherapist, teacher and writer. He is an Initiate in the Shankya Yoga lineage of H.H. Sri Swami Rama and the Himalayan Masters.

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