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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times

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Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times

Most of us are aware that we go through many different stages as we progress through life. In my work with clients and my own life, I have learned that rather than experiencing these stages just once, we actually experience them again and again.

Being able to identify which of these five stages we are in (in each area of our lives) is extremely important because then, we can avoid a mistake many people make—trying to skip the most important, challenging ones (like #1 and #2).

By understanding these stages and our journey through them, we learn how to give ourselves what we really need when we need it.

Life Stage #1: Exploration

The first stage in the life cycle of anything is Exploration. This stage is all about learning, being open, and making new discoveries that we will need later.

In addition to being about starting something new, the Exploration Stage can also be a time of recovery after a transition or loss.

Just the way a newborn baby is open and curious, when we are in the Exploration Stage in any area of our lives, it is important to be open to inspiration, insight, and information that comes from unexpected sources.

If we rush the Exploration Stage, we can miss receiving important information or the opportunity to attain clarity and wisdom we need later and as a result, our future creations may lack depth or staying power.

Suggestions for Support

If you are in the Exploration Stage in some area of your life, it’s important to pay attention, listen, get curious, and give yourself plenty of space and time to learn and explore.

It can help to keep a journal or a log to help you remember what you are learning, so you can access it later.

This stage requires a lot of self-care, acceptance, and compassion.

You might feel led to take a course, study, read self-help books, or listen to podcasts. You may also benefit from professional help, such as that of a teacher, coach, specialist, expert, mentor, support group, physician, or therapist.

During the Exploration Stage, it can be important to request understanding from loved ones, and to be willing to learn from those with more experience than yourself.

The key is learning. Take the time you need to expose yourself to new ideas and a wide variety of perspectives. Study, soak up information, and get inspired.

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Life Stage #2: Integration

After we have received information, we may start to feel a sense of closing down, just a bit. This is often what people describe as limbo or the chrysalis stage.

The Integration Stage is a progression from one thing to the next. Old patterns are breaking apart and new ones are being created. We are in-between things.

We may have completed one level of education but are not yet an expert. We may have birthed our first child but are still figuring out our own parenting style.

When we are in an Integration Stage in some area of our lives, we may feel more tired than usual. We might misjudge ourselves as being stuck or lazy, not realizing how much work we are doing under the surface.

It can help to remember that Integration is a very powerful process in the art of transformation. When we fully integrate our ideas, we become a powerhouse, strong, and ready for what comes our way.

When we skip this step, we are often not grounded or resilient in the way we need to be to truly succeed.

Suggestions for Support

If you are in the Integration Stage in some area of your life, it is important to strengthen yourself mentally, physically, emotionally, and acknowledge how much you achieved in the previous stage of Exploration.

Strengthening activities can include self-care basics like drinking water, resting, exercising, meditating, and spending time relaxing with family members and friends.

You also might benefit from joining a program or a group where you can safely practice skills learned and process your new ideas. Integration requires being humble enough to acknowledge what you don’t yet know, and the courage to experiment with what you have recently learned.

Life Stage #3: Creation

After we have integrated new ideas through practice and experimentation, our energy starts to pick up again. We are ready for action.

The Creation Stage requires a huge output of energy, which usually happens privately.

In a relationship, this is the “in-love” stage when a couple often can’t get enough of each other. They don’t socialize much with others but instead are building the foundation of their relationship and defining who they are as a couple.

In our personal or professional lives, we may have a huge outpouring of energy or an urge to declutter, redecorate, write, make art, create something new, or redesign an aspect of our business, life, or home.

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In the area of health, we may experience lots of motivation, suddenly feeling able to start and stick to a new diet or exercise program. We start to get really excited about making something new happen. We are energized and aligned.

When we give our creative process the space and respect it deserves, it can feel as if it is happening through us rather than something we need to work hard to make happen.

Suggestions for Support

Creation is so much fun that the tendency is to skip steps #1 and #2 and rush into it, pretending we are in a Creation Stage when we are not. It is important to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we are truly ready to devote our full energy to producing something new.

On the other hand, if you are truly in a Creative Stage, it’s important to make space for it. The huge rush and outpour of a true full-on Creation Stage doesn’t last forever and is often all-consuming.

It is a very important, precious, and sacred time. Your creations are vulnerable right now and need time and space to become whatever it is they are becoming.

Now is not time to launch publicly or share what is happening to you too broadly. Protect yourself against self-doubt and self-criticism, or anyone who is jealous or may not have your best interests at heart.

Negativity can drain your all-important energy and damage the Creative process. If you do share, share only with those whom you truly trust.

The Creative Stage usually requires lots of time, attention, focus, and energy. It’s almost impossible to be in a Creation Stage of all areas of our lives. Creation takes so much energy, different areas of our lives need to take turns.

When you are in this stage, it can help to make a plan so nothing too important falls through the cracks in other areas of your life. Ask for understanding from loved ones.

Lower your standards and simplify. Let go of things that aren’t important. Make sure things that are essential like self-care, paying bills, caring for children, health, and core relationships can be done in a way that also allows you space to create.

You might want to delegate, outsource, or pause things that detract from your creative flow. Consider scheduling smaller, focused time slots for quality time with your partner, kids, or activities that are important but to which you can’t currently give as much energy to as you would like to or typically do.

Make space for creative output while also making sure the rest of your life remains healthy and safely intact.

Life Stage #4: Sharing

The Sharing Stage is when we come out of the chrysalis and begin sharing our creations.

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In relationships, this stage is when couples start going on double dates or bring the partner home to meet the family. Or, they commit in some larger way like moving in together, getting engaged, or getting married. The relationship is strong enough to share more publicly.

In the area of health, perhaps after months of losing weight, running privately, or working out with a small group, we may are ready to compete, run a race, or post our workouts on social media.

With creative pursuits or a business, we may share products with a small group of people at first, have a small art show, or publish our book. We may launch our business or new product.

When the time is right to share, it happens easily and effortlessly. It feels right. It is as if there is an open flow between us and whoever is ready to receive the gift of our creation.

Suggestions for Support

New creations are vulnerable. It can be helpful to view the relationship, course, book, business, or new home as an entity unto itself.

Is it ready to emerge in some outer way or is it still incubating? Sharing too early can cause something that could have succeeded to crumble because it’s just not ready for the public scrutiny.

On the other hand, sometimes we delay sharing out of fear or worry that our creation is not good enough. It’s important to go slowly, use discernment, and remember that sharing is about keeping your own flow going.

Sharing is all about being generous to yourself and others. It is about letting the positive energy of your good health, business, home, family, relationship, or product benefit others in some way.

As you begin sharing and emerging in the outer world, pace yourself and stay in tune with your energy. Go slow, find your pace, take a day off when you need it. Protect yourself emotionally and practically.

Remember, we can never please everyone. As you start to share, accept any defeat, negative feedback, or closed doors as increasing the possibility that other doors will open, so your true tribe (or audience, partner, customer, friend, reader, etc.) can find you.

And have fun! The Sharing Stage is when we give back to benefit others, and that always feels good.

Life Stage #5: Letting Go (or Auto-Pilot)

In everything we create and experience, there is a moment when we let go.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that whatever it is we are letting go of is ending. It may simply mean that certain aspects of our lives need to go on autopilot, or it is time for them to evolve into another form.

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Letting go is a natural phase in life. If we don’t let go of something when it is time to do so, we can experience a drain on our energy and resources that impedeS our growth. On the other hand, if we let go too soon, we may experience new crises that take extra time and energy to repair.

Letting go is often about automation. We no longer have to be hypervigilant to make sure things go perfectly. We don’t have to direct our creation as much as we once did.

This stage can also be about releasing something like a habit, pattern, or commitment that served a purpose in our lives for some time, but is no longer in our best interest.

The Letting Go Stage is often a time of loss or cleaning out. As we let go of what no longer serves us, we make space for new, positive energies that are more aligned with what we really need.

Letting go also happens when something has gone through its life cycle and needs to come to a natural end.

Suggestions for Support

Letting go is a time for extreme self-care. Consider getting professional support to help you delegate roles and automate functions, perhaps a professional organizer, clutter coach, or technology.

Now may also be the time to get help from a therapist, life coach, healer, recovery program, or support group to help you grieve, heal, emotionally detach, release control, and let go.

Most of all, be gentle and compassionate with yourself.

Letting go is as natural as is creation. The more we let go, the more we can open to whatever is next.

Final Thoughts

Moving through the five core life phases in the many different areas of our lives is a dance. The most important thing is to know where you are in the process so you can give yourself all the support, care, and understanding you need for your well-being and the best possible outcome.

More Tips on Navigating Through Hard Times in Life

Featured photo credit: Jonas Kaiser via unsplash.com

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Laurie Smith

Inspirational Writer. Coach. Healer.

How to Start Setting Intentions That Set You up for Success 13 Keys to Living Your Best Life and Aligning Your Priorities What Is a Complete Life? 5 Rules to Live By Understanding the 5 Stages of Life Can Help Navigate Hard Times how to get out of a funk How to Get Out of a Funk When You’re Stressed Out

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

Feel That Life Is Meaningless? Here’s How to Find Meaning

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Feel That Life Is Meaningless? Here’s How to Find Meaning

Have you ever felt like you’re unable to feel anything? You know exactly what this feeling is if you’ve been through it. The feeling of a meaningless life is unexplainable.

A meaningless life may not look bad. In fact, there’s likely nothing obviously wrong. You may be living in your dream house with the love of your life. Your well-paid job in the company that you dreamt of is doing great, too. However, you feel like a part of your heart and soul are missing.

If you feel like nothing is right, you may be living a meaningless life. But don’t you worry, because you’re in the right place to find the perfect solution for you and your unique life.

What Is a Meaningless Life?

Let’s start by helping you put a finger on your issue. Is it actually a meaningless life or just a rough slump?

Be clear on one thing: no human’s life is ever truly meaningless. Basically, your life can never lose its meaning and purpose. If you’re living in this world, there is some reason deep down. The only issue is that you have lost the vision to identify it. Your perspective is too blurred to figure out what you are in this world for.

A meaningless life may mean you’re going through an existential crisis. You could be borderline depressed. The feeling of emptiness may prevail all other emotions. However, you can be sure that, despite all of this, there’s still meaning to your existence.

All you have to do is push through to find it.

If you feel that you’re living a meaningless life, negativity will surround you like wildfire. However, you’ve got to keep your head high so that you can look ahead and find an answer. You have to strive to find your life’s meaning to continue to live a life of high motivation.

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Before you move on with the rest of the process, make sure to first imprint this in your mind. Only then will you be able to guide your thought process in the right direction.

Is There Any Meaning to Life?

Life, in its literal term, means to exist and reproduce. The reproduction not only includes the creation of humans like yourself, but also of thoughts, ideologies, and philosophies.

A person who is living a meaningless life has a very different view of what life is supposed to be. That is where the issue arises. To understand the meaning of life without any misconceptions, one should look at the philosophy behind this concept.

Like most branches of research, philosophy has numerous diverging answers to answer what the meaning of life is[1]. Here’s a quick summary of what I consider the most suitable understanding.

It all starts from a human’s expectations and, ultimately, reactions. Every individual expects something from the world and, in return, has to react to the expectations of others. Generally, this idea is surrounded by wanting goodness. To achieve that, a person has to do good deeds as well.

This cycle continues. But, of course, it is very complex. A lot of factors contribute to this cycle, such as selfishness, a different point of view of what’s good, emotions, likes and dislikes, etc.

The point of this entire concept in philosophy is that, ultimately, the process of growth and reproduction comes to an end for every human. There’s no escaping that. Therefore, the goal is to live life in a way that, when the individual’s growth comes to an end, something good is still left behind for the cycle to continue.

Where Does the Good Come From?

This is the point where the differences come in. People with different beliefs opt for varying methods to reach the same goal.

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There are four main schools of thought in philosophy in this regard, and they all offer different advice on how to move past living a meaningless life[2].

1. God

One school believes that God is the center of everything we do. Hence, goodness is anything that goes in line with the religion that you believe in.

2. The Soul

The other school of thought centers their actions on the soul. For them, anything that satisfies and calms your inner self is the path you should follow, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.

3. Objectivists

The objectivists say that everything in the world is defined; the good and bad are certain, so no one should go beyond the set boundaries.

4. Subjectivists

The subjectivists, on the other hand, believe that since every individual’s cognition varies, the meaning of every single thing in the world is different. No two individuals can have a similar thought process.

All in all, life comes down to one thing only: goodness. That is what life should be, and that is what you should leave behind. How you achieve it depends on which school of thought you agree with. Whatever you believe in is ultimately what the meaning of your life is.

How to Stop Living a Meaningless Life

Now you know that there is a meaning to your life, without question. You also have an idea of what this meaning is. You’ve got to figure out what you consider “good” and build your life around it.

Regardless of which school of thought you agree with or what you have decided your life’s meaning to be, the process to implement will be a bit hard. To make it easier, here are some universal tips.

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1. Unlearn What You’ve Been Told All Your Life

Do not be distracted by what you’ve learned in your life until now. The truth is, you could have been told something for 30 years of your life only to find out that it was all baseless.

The only thing in life that is definite is that there are no rules. We didn’t come into this world with a rule book or defined meaning. Every individual was given the ability to make choices in their life. So, take hold of yours, learn your right and wrong from scratch, and make sure nothing is detracting you from the real meaning of your life. Don’t be afraid if you learn something that goes against your lifelong motto if it gets you away from living a meaningless life.

2. Know That You Matter

This has been said a couple of times by now but, honestly, the more you emphasize this fact, the easier it will be for you.

The fact that you’re alive, living in this world, and taking another breath to take means that you matter. Your life purpose is yet to be fulfilled, so you’ve still got to make some impact in this world.

You are the one person that has to change the world, even if it is something as small as changing the life of one tiny creature. Keep this in mind at all times.

3. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

If your life’s meaning was somewhere inside the circle that you stay in, you would’ve found it by now. Isn’t it obvious that what you’re looking for is out of your comfort zone? Then, what’s keeping you from stepping out?

Don’t hesitate to step out. The short-term discomfort will help you find the long-term purpose of life, which will give you a lifetime of relaxation and a constant way out of a meaningless life.

4. Follow Your Heart

Whether you’re choosing which school of thought to follow or opting between what good to go after, never ignore your heart. Your intuition is your heart’s way of guiding you. Don’t let it take over, but also don’t forget to take it into consideration.

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5. Do Not Let Go of Your Passion

You know that one thing in life that you just cannot give up no matter hard you try? Stop trying to get rid of it. You’re passionate about something for a reason. It is a step for you to reach your life’s meaning.

6. Be More Mindful

The big things in life tend to take over the tiny details. These little things are signs to help you decode and find answers. Meditate if you have a hard time focusing, but always try your best to pay attention to the little experiences that you usually don’t notice.

Conclusion

If you’re a person who is going through the dilemma of living a meaningless life, try to use these tips to help you seek out your unique meaning. Although your life seems meaningless, rest assured that it’s not.

The ball is now in your court. You’re the one who has to do the rest of the work. Use the tips to help you find the true meaning of your life, and then stick to it. Get on with step 1 from today without losing any motivation at all.

All the work that you’ll put in the process now will help you achieve a life of happiness and peace worth living.

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Featured photo credit: Frida Aguilar Estrada via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Philosophy Now: What is Life?
[2] Philosophy Now: What is The Meaning Of Life?

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