Becoming Unstuck

Becoming Unstuck

Becoming Unstuck. One theory around how we develop as healthy people throughout our lives comes from the psychologist Erik Erikson. It’s a Psychosocial theory meaning it looks at how personality and behaviour are formed by the combination of internal factors, the psyche and external, social, factors.


Erikson’s Stage Theory

The theory takes us through 8 stages of life. In each stage there is a conflict/ battle/ tug of war between a healthy and an unhealthy development. Of course, there’s a spectrum but the futher up the healthier end the better.   If outside forces, friends’ family, society and internal thoughts combine successfully, we gain what he called a virtue, self-esteem for example.  Now psychologists generally believe one stage doesn’t have to be completed to move on to the next. Let’s take a look at the “virtues” and in an ideal world when we might have first put them in our toolbox.   


becoming unstuck

Becoming Unstuck

The 8 Virtues

1. Trust

From we’re born to we are around 1 we develop the ability to trust. Knowing you are safe, a parent can be relied on to help you if you’re distressed and that if they leave, they’ll come back. Anything different and mistrust can win out.


2. Autonomy

By the Early childhood stage, 1-3 years, being able to do certain things on our own, like potty training and not being shamed / feeling shame about it develops will / autonomy.




3. Purpose

During Play Age, 3-6 years, we need support for using our own initiative and not feeling guilty about having a mind of our own, this gives us a sense  of purpose.

4. Competence

 The School Age stage, 6-12 years, the conflict is between industry and Inferiority.  If our efforts are praised fairly, it increases self-confidence and we feel encouraged to put in the work in to get competent. Not being encouraged can make you feel inferior.  


5. Sense of self

Adolescence, 12-19 years, sees the conflict between Identity, who you are and able to stay true to yourself throughout life. If we remain confused about who we really are we’ve difficulty knowing what beliefs and behaviour are our own, leaving us more prone to being manipulated.


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6. Love

The Early Adulthood stage, 20-25 years, is about developing the ability to form bonds, intimacy versus isolation.  Love is the successful outcome.

becoming unstuck





7. Care

At the Adulthood stage, 26-60 years, contributing to society and not stagnating, allows you to think outside of yourself and care for others.



8. Wisdom

The final stage is Old Age, 65- , (although 65 is the new 45! – I’m using Erikson’s age brackets) people look back on their life. Knowing they have cared and been productive gives a sense of integrity and the virtue of wisdom as opposed to despair. 

becoming unstuck



Becoming Unstuck

Have you found your lacking in one of the building blocks for health in this model?  Maybe you developed them at a different stage of life than the ones given here. Of course, not everyone reacts the same, even identical twins in the same circumstances might react very differently. You might have wanted to prove someone wrong and that gave you the drive to succeed, but it’s a useful model for giving you a chance to see where you might need help and of course hypnotherapy can help you work on achieving these virtues and becoming unstuck.


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Janet Adams Hypnotherapist

Author: Janet Adams

I am a qualified Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist based in Belfast but offering treatments virtually as well.

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