Are you curious to know how evolved your consciousness is and how complex your mind is? Some time ago I read about research by Robert Kegan that showed that as adults there are three stages in mental complexity. It opened my eyes to seeing people in a completely new light – including my colleagues, friends and family.

3 treesThe work was oriented towards leadership in the workplace, but it can be applied to our growth as conscious human beings. This is a longer post than usual. If this topic interests you, hang in there!

I expect that most of us growing up, thought that once we were adults our minds were pretty much set. We could learn new skills, but basically our thinking would remain the same…..

Turns out it wasn’t so. Dealing with the highs and the lows of life  contributes to an increased mental complexity and different perspective on how we see others and the world. As adults our minds continue to grow and expand based on our experiences and how we engage our brains.

Challenges are good for us! I see the world differently and think differently from my 24 year old self.

Here are the Three Levels of Adult Mental development as I would describe them:

The Socialized Mind 
  • We are shaped by our environment and the expectations of others.
  • We align our selves to others and are strongly influenced by what we think others want us to do or say.
  • We are highly sensitive to others and what they think of us. Most of all we want to fit in and be accepted.
The Self Authoring Mind 
  • We are able to step back from the social environment and make our own judgments, evaluations and choices.
  • We align ourselves to our own belief system or personal code.
  • We are self directed, independent, take a stand on issues, and have strategies for our success.
The Self Transforming Mind 
  • We are able to step back from and reflect on our own beliefs, thoughts and actions.
  • We are friendlier towards contradiction and differences.
  • We seek wholeness or completeness, and align ourselves with multiple perspectives rather than opposing poles.
  • We appreciate the interconnectedness with others and are interdependent.

active brain Here’s the data:

The Socialized Mind …. 27% of adults

In between this level and the next …. 32%

The Self Authoring Mind …. 34%

In between this level and the next .… 6%

The Self Transforming Mind …. 1%

This is what comes to my mind:

* We are all capable of growing our mindset and increasing our minds complexity. (Now confirmed in neuroscience research into neuroplasticity)

* Most adults appear to be becoming more independent in their thinking and more “self” oriented. (Is there a correlation between this group and increased stress levels I also wonder)

* Going through each stage is a part of the journey. Remember, the levels relate to the complexity of the mind, there is no better or worse.

* The Self Transforming Mind is aligned with mindfulness, spiritual development, and the growth of our own consciousness.

* This study comes from 1994. If the research were to be done today I wonder what would the results show. Would there be more self oriented people or more people awakening to the connectivity of us all?

* Now take a moment and imagine the impact on the planet if humanity was to transcend into the Self Transforming Mind. … There would be inner peace and external peace. Everyone would be living from their Middle Ground.

* That’s something special to help bring about. And yes – I believe it would be a better world to live in!

I feel so much gratitude for being able to share my insights here. Thank you.

What comes to your mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

25 comments on “* Where is Your Mind Set?……

  1. It is never too late to create a new neural pathway.


    • Yes indeed Sue! A colleague of mind describes it like imagining a deer running through the forest. Over time it creates a new path there…. A poetic version of practice practice practice 🙂


  2. Yeah… I was super happy with the Self Authoring, thinking that sounded grand! then I kept reading… so obviously I’m not there yet!


  3. I used to believe we would all get there . . . now I have my doubts.

    Many people are resistance to mindfulness, meditation, cooperation, peace, and harmony. They are convinced that competition (for a “bigger piece of pie”) is necessary to accomplishment. They identify with Ego and ignore the tug of Spirit.

    And even those who do embrace Spiritual wholeness are stymied by Ego’s tug. 😀


    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts Nancy. I want to believe that we are a part of a movement of spiritual enlightenment in the world… but it seems the old competitive ego centric ways still prevail. Val x


  4. I can’t help wondering if there is a benefit to having people of all minds, no pun intended, because I think we gain valuable perspectives from our differences. This is why we need each other in a sense. Our differences bring a balance I think. If all of us are the same, perhaps some of us aren’t necessary… Just thinking out loud…
    Diana xo


    • Interesting point Diana. I wouldn’t want everyone to be the same either … I believe an appreciation of our differences as well as our interconnectedness would make for a more peaceful world.


  5. In the Stillness of Willow Hill

    Wouldn’t it be terrific if young parents learned these things before they messed up their children! (I’m sure my own children would agree.)


  6. Very interesting!


  7. Professions for PEACE

    Wonderfully thought provoking. I love it! Thank you Val. xo Gina


  8. Hi Val, this intrigues me in that my sociological training has me wondering to what extent we can talk of a ‘self-authoring’ mind, given that we are all socialized from infancy and are embroiled in social influences, however much we like to think of ourselves as being ‘independent.’ Having said that, I reckon one can go to the edge of a spectrum and carve one’s own path to a certain extent. The matter of external forces, like social inequalities etc, bearing down can be overwhelming, though, for some more than others, given the way our world is shaped.


  9. Hmmm….. this is interesting. I can see how I move through all levels — reaching for transformative mindfulness while shifting occasionally into self-authoring. I think that as I deepen my understanding of my inter-connectedness and relatedness to the world, I become more conscious of the power we each hold to be the change we not only want to see in the world but consciously know we can participate in its evolution.


    • Thank you Louise. Applying these insights to ourselves can be revealing and enriching …. as well as seeing others through this lens. Val x


  10. I found this intriguing. When I fell into my own personal crisis, I read about and focussed on my needs, and in particular Maslow’s hierarchy. He postulated ascending needs of basic needs (food, shelter), then in order security, connections, self-esteem and growth, and finally self-actualization. It is estimated that only about 1% ever get to this high level of self-actualization, which is similar to your ‘Self-transforming’ category. The interesting part to my story is that I grappled at the very bottom level of Maslow’s pyramid for months. Then with all the middle layers still crumbling at my feet, I began to explore my values and beliefs. I began questioning everything that I had ever known… and that is when I began to heal. Part of the healing process of this reflection to me was the realisation that the previous ‘strategies for success’, that i knew so well from my ‘self-authoring’ mind, simply were not working for me anymore. I have kept focussing on that higher reflective level and have discovered that it is a huge part of me and my needs. I have concluded that Maslow got it wrong. You do not need the middle layers to be happy and at peace, although of course they are an added bonus and great to have when you do have them.
    Thanks for this post and it meant a lot to me on a few issues that i am currently working through.


    • Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your own experience and thoughts here. Maslow’s hierarchy is helpful … and I agree that we can attain peace while still having to deal with lower levels of needs as he defined them. Perhaps this is because we have already gone through the steps of development to self actualization already. When something impacts us at a more basic survival level, we are then able to re-visit it from a different perspective and with some wisdom….


  11. Professions for PEACE

    Val this is such a delightfully thought provoking piece. Thank you! I definitely believe that there are more people awakening to the connectivity of us all. I have to have hope! You bless us all with your light and love. And I want to offer extra-special gratitude for the love you extended our friend Louise this morning. The post you mentioned was crafted especially with her in mind… and you picked that up! I appreciate your sensitivity and deep compassion for all. With so much love and gratitude for you my friend, Gina. Namaste.


    • Thank you for your kind words Gina. Connectivity comes from an open heart and a longing to share with the world.
      This is our path along with Louise and many others.
      We share so much more than our blogs, and I am touched to be a part of this movement.
      Val x


  12. We Will all get there. In fact, I believe the state of Our planet is a reflection of Our State of Mind – Torrid confusion requires reorganization. Chaos invokes Order. We Will get there. However, I am the eternal optimist, so My perspective may be flawed – My philosophy is rooted in the belief that deep within Us, We all desire the same thing. Peace. One day, We Will find it. Love and Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. 👍 Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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