Levels of Development: Relationships

Levels of Development: Relationships
Photo by NASA / Unsplash

If life is a game, then how do we level up? I seek to answer this question and propose different levels available to us in all aspects of life. I'm going to call this Levels of Development. Just some guidelines and goals to work towards, and thinking about what's possible. What level are you at, and where do you want to be? What is your own take on these levels?

There are four aspects to this: relationship to yourself (which relates to mental health in a way), your close companions, your stuff, and also to the world/nature at large.

Level 1: Abuse

You feel rejected by the world, and don't feel like there is anyone or anything you can count on to help you. There is some imbalance of power - you are either relying too much on your stuff to give you value, or on other people to do so. Your relationships are actively harming you, and the people in your life.

Level 2: Isolation

You don't feel connected to other people and may feel lonely. You don't feel connected to yourself, either - you don't know who you are and don't respect yourself a lot. You feel very alone - like the world is a place where you have to fight for your right to be in.

Level 3: Utility

You see other people as a tool for you to get what you want, and don't enjoy your relationships with them in their own right. As for your relationship to yourself, you don't quite see the point in improving that relationship, or see self-esteem as a tool to achieve your goals. Same for your stuff and for the world around you. You come from a place of "what can they do for me?" in each interaction.

Level 4: Indifference

You interact with people as you need to without investing too much into making the relationships go to a next level. Same for those relationships to yourself and to the world. However, you don't get trampled over and are not a doormat. You get that it's not just about using one another, but you don't derive a lot of joy from your relationships, either, maybe because they aren't the right fit or you simply haven't invested in them enough. While you know that people with better relationships are healthier and live longer, sometimes it feels like you're just going through the motions.

Level 5: Attachment

You feel close to the people around you and you like yourself. However, there is some fear of losing them; you are not totally secure in your relationships with them. You think that the world is a neutral place. You like the items in your life and possibly fear losing them.

Level 6: Proactivity

You generally give some thought to the relationships in your life and actively cultivate them, carefully picking the people in your circle and scheduling time with them to make sure your bonds remain strong. However, some people in your life are still not the best for you, encouraging bad habits, have different values from you and so on. There are reasons why they are still there though, for example family members you haven't gotten away from and so on.

As for your relationship with yourself, you like yourself, you are aware of your flaws but don't sweat them. With the world, you think of it as either benign or neutral, or something you can bend to your will if you work long and hard enough.

Level 7: Balance

There is an equal give and take between you and the people around you, and you feel like you have enough. You enforce boundaries between what you can offer and are respected for them. You enjoy what you have, and at least one category of relationships is where you want it to be.

Level 8: In-group

You see everyone as part of your in-group, and thus because you are so secure in your relationships social anxiety is no longer a problem for you. You give without expecting to receive and receive with gratitude, knowing that relationships are fluid and it doesn't always have to be tit-for-tat. You have two out of four categories at a satisfactory level.

Level 9: Play

There is a sense of playfulness in your relationships - you know they are temporary but that doesn't mean you don't put yourself into them and enjoy them for as long as they last. You feel connected to nature and the world at large, and believe that the world is on your side. At least three out of four aspects of relationships feel solid to you, and they are a source of joy.

Level 10: Synergy

You have a good relationship with yourself and are confident in yourself. You are happy with the amount of close relationships that you have, and can get your social needs met fully. You know that relationships can be greater than the sum of the individuals, and depend on other people without fear or neediness. You don't feel too attached to your stuff and know that most of that is only temporary.

At this level, all four kinds of relationships - with yourself, other people, your stuff, and your environment - are in the best place possible.