A couple of years ago, I asked a friend how I would know when I’ve internally mastered something -- for instance, transformed any negative feelings about life into positive feelings. He told me that some would say we go through four stages of growth: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, unconscious competence. Sometimes these types of frameworks help ground me, and I connected with this one, so I did a little research on the internet and found a site (http://www.meaningoflife.i12.com/12steps.htm) that explains these stages which I’ve quoted below. (On a side note, this page also walks you through a new way of looking at the 12 steps from AA.) :
UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE, which is characterized by our actions under the influence of our obsessions, compulsions and attachments. Here we are very much in 'victim consciousness' taking everything personally, blaming others most of the time and our emotions are negative most of the time.
CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE, which is characterized by the beginnings of reconnection to Spirit, when we discover that our primary obsession, compulsion, addiction or attachment was not the only problem we had. Here we are beginning to connect to higher aspects of self and discover GOD, but we are still fairly negative and blaming in our patterns of behavior.
CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE, which is characterized by continued and consistent efforts to incorporate Spiritual integration into our daily lives. Here we begin to experience self-responsibility and self acceptance. We begin to work through and transform negative emotions into positive feelings with no blaming. By identifying old negative habitual patterning we can substitute more positive patterns.
UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE, which is characterized by our ability to practice integrated spirituality and all its principles without thought or effort. This leads to harmony and empowerment, where although we can see external negativity in life around us, we are unaffected by it. Now we are living in positive emotions all the time - this is self mastery.
Moving through Stages 1 to 3 requires humility, self honesty, dedication and commitment to higher ideals and values, a spiritual way of life through learning the process of co-creation. Moving into Stage 4 and staying there requires weeks, months and years of practice, acting 'as if' and devotion during which time eventually practice and acting as if suddenly becomes being………… Then you are there and you are creating heaven on earth in moment to moment conscious awareness.