According to developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson, there are several psychosocial stages that we must successfully navigate in childhood in order to arrive at adulthood fully prepared for life. These tasks include: 1) learning to trust others, as well as in the overall goodness of our lives; 2) learning to operate as a separate, autonomous being; 3) learning to take appropriate risks that demonstrate initiative and ingenuity; 4) gaining a sense of competence and mastery regarding the basic challenges of life; and 5) developing a consistent personal identity. As long as we remain incomplete on any of these tasks, the development of a cohesive and solid sense of self is thwarted.
This much-desired “solid sense of self” includes:
1) the capacity to experience a wide variety of feelings, as well as an ability to soothe painful feelings in a positive way;
2) the ability to express your thoughts and feelings authentically to another person without too much fear of either being engulfed or abandoned;
3) the capacity to tolerate your own aloneness;
4) a healthy sense of entitlement that life holds good things for you and that you deserve to have them;
5) the ability to assert your individuality and authenticity in the world; and
6) a stability of self, meaning that you are always aware that you are the same person regardless of who you are with, what you are doing, or the current circumstances (both good and bad) of your life.