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By Alyce Barry
"I think in hindsight, it's easy to see there was a bubble. But you know, when you're at a party having a good time, sometimes it's hard to stop and leave the party." Michael Petrucelli, Senior VP, Lehman BrothersIn September 2006, in issue #16 of this newsletter, Shadow Work® founder Cliff Barry wrote for the first time publicly about a new model he'd been developing for some time.
As Cliff said in that article, the Shadow Work® Model he developed in the early 1990s is a space model. That is, it divides the "space" inside the human psyche into four regions, or archetypal energies: the Magician, the Sovereign, the Lover and the Warrior. The Model offers a facilitation map with four directions, similar to the maps we use to navigate physical space.
But human beings don't operate only in space: they operate also in time. Cliff's new model is a time model that divides the growth cycle of an individual or a group into seven steps or phases. During each of those seven phases, the individual or group moves back and forth between two archetypes in a motion that looks like a loop. When you've got four archetypes, there are six possible loops. The Six Loops Model offers a map for understanding cycles of growth. When the two models are used together, it becomes possible to help a group that's stuck in a certain phase to get unstuck.
GROWTH = PROGRESS
This week, I was watching an episode of the PBS show Frontline called "Inside the Meltdown" when I realized that the person quoted above, who worked for the now-bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers, was referring to Phase Four of the cycle. Which meant that what we call a "bubble" is one way to describe what inevitably happens during that phase of every growth cycle.
Normally, when I talk about a growth cycle, I'm talking about personal, emotional, or spiritual growth. As an investment bank, Lehman Brothers was interested in financial growth. Political entities like the United States are interested in growth, too: growth in wealth, certainly, as well as growth in security, reputation, influence, and so on. The growth of a nation is often considered "progress." I think most people like to believe that the actions we take as a community, a nation, and a world make progress toward a better world and a brighter future.
Which brings me to the mortgage crisis. I think most people believed, as the "housing bubble" grew, that we were making progress toward home ownership and prosperity.
If I'm correct, that a "bubble" is what happens in Phase Four of every cycle, then bubbles are inevitable.
That doesn't mean, however, that we can't protect ourselves from their impact. The way to do that, I believe, is to understand how and why bubbles develop, by understanding all the phases of the growth cycle.
This article will, of necessity, provide the briefest of snapshots of the Six Loop Model.
THE SIX LOOPS THEORY OF THE HOUSING BUBBLE
Words that describe Phase One include Support, Inspiration, Vision, and Hope.
In Phase One, we get an inspiring idea that offers a new vision of how life could be. We are so inspired that we idealize that vision, and our inspiration motivates us to move ahead with it. In order to be willing to move forward, however, we must ask for what we want and put our hopes on the line, which requires a degree of vulnerability. Phase One is a loop between the idealization and motivation of Sovereign energy and the vulnerability of Lover energy.
In the case of the housing bubble, Phase One happened when mortgage rates were low, real estate values were rising, and more and more people seemed capable of qualifying for a home mortgage. Mortgage lenders had a vision of selling mortgages to nearly everyone. Prospective buyers had a vision of life being better by owning a home.
"Hey, look, it costs almost nothing to own a home!"
PHASE TWO: HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS WORK?
Words that describe Phase Two include Safety, Container, Guidelines, and Trusting Relationships.
In Phase Two, we begin to figure out how to make the vision a reality, by forming the necessary relationships that will nurture the vision and developing strategies to keep us safe. We try out new relationships, see how they feel, figure out how to make them safe enough, and open ourselves to change so that we can proceed. Phase Two is a loop between the vulnerability of the Lover energy to risk and change, and the objective analysis and strategizing of Magician energy.
In the case of the housing bubble, Phase Two happened when investment firms figured out which financial tools and strategies could make it possible to offer mortgages to just about anyone. Magician energy offered a variety of alternatives to the traditional 30-year mortgage with 20% down payment: ARMs, subprime rates, credit default swaps, and so on.
"How can we make this work?"
PHASE THREE: LET'S TAKE ACTION
Words that describe Phase Three include Commitment, Action, Assessment, and Accomplishment.
In Phase Three, we've developed enough strategies for moving forward that they form a coherent approach we can give a name to. When we commit ourselves to that approach, we're ready to take action. We get down to business. As we go, we occasionally step back to assess how we're doing, make any necessary adjustments, and then resume work. Phase Three is a loop between the activism of Warrior energy and the objective assessment of Magician energy.
In the case of the housing bubble, Phase Three would have happened when financial institutions and in particular, investment banks developed and applied policies for home mortgages that took advantage of new tools and strategies and then packaged and sold these mortgages as securities to other institutions. Institutions sold mortgages, analyzed what seemed to work and what didn't, adjusted their strategies accordingly, and continued selling mortgages.
"We'll call this our XYZ Plan."
PHASE FOUR: THE BUBBLE AND THE BURST
My favorite way to describe Phase Four is the phrase "pedal to the metal."
Phase Four is when the bubble appears, grows, and eventually bursts.
The bubble begins when we believe that our actions are going well, and we idealize our success. That idealization motivates us to do even more, and more, and more. Phase Four is a loop between the idealization and motivation of Sovereign energy and the activism of Warrior energy.
"If X is good, then X+1 must be better."In Phase Four, we accelerate what works until we've got the pedal to the metal. Anybody who stands in our way had better get off the road. Our confidence in our success grows until we're eager to pulverize any opposition.
But acceleration eventually runs the vehicle out of gas. Excess eventually brings about a betrayal. To mix metaphors, what goes up must come down. We crash to the ground and get rudely reacquainted with reality.
"Hey, if a little of this works, a lot will work even better!"Phase Four is painful but necessary before we can proceed to Phase Five.
PHASE FIVE: WERE WE BAD?
My favorite way to describe Phase Five is, "Back to the drawing board, where among the drawings I rediscover the divine plan."
Phase Five, in the aftermath of the bubble, is when we feel the shame of failure and allow that shame to teach us what to do next.
The pain of the betrayal at the end of Phase Four takes us back to the drawing boards to figure out what went wrong. Was our failure the result of others, or of forces beyond our control? Or was our failure the result of our own actions, our own arrogance? Does our failure mean we're bad and can't be trusted? If we are indeed bad, how do we go on safely?
We begin to question our assumptions about success and failure, good and evil, life and death. We remember precepts from long ago that, in the heady acceleration of Phase Four, we put disdainfully on the shelf. We thought we knew better, and now we learn that there are elders among us who knew the safer path all along. We relearn sacred laws long forgotten, such as thrift and caution. Phase Five is a loop between the objective reassessment of Magician energy and the meaning and reassurance of Sovereign energy.
"Guess we got carried away by our own good fortune."
PHASE SIX: MAKING PROGRESS REAL
My favorite way to describe Phase Six is, "Connect. Differentiate. Repeat."
In the aftermath of the bubble, Phase Six is when we take our reacquaintance with divine law and our magical new perspectives from Phase Five and recommit ourselves to working for the benefit of ourselves and of others simultaneously. Phase Six isn't easy, but it offers the ultimate satisfaction of the greatest reward from the hardest work.
In Phase Six, we alternate between two diametrically opposed energies: the connection of the Lover and the differentiation of the Warrior. We find each other and yet demand our own individuality. We connect, we separate. We come together, we part. One image I like for Phase Six is the blood in our circulatory system rushing toward the heart where it gets refueled before hurtling out toward the extremities, changing from red to blue to red to blue. The Lover and the Warrior are opposites, yet we can alternate between them in a continuous stream of connection and differentiation.
"We will listen to input from our financial partners."Finally, in Phase Seven, we have a chance to rest briefly before plunging into the next cycle.
IDEAS ON PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM THE NEXT BUBBLE
In the last decade, we've seen a dot-com bubble and a housing bubble, to name just two.
There will be a next bubble, for at least two reasons.
So the way to protect yourself from the next bubble is to become as conscious as possible, by doing your work. Shadow Work®'s method for becoming conscious starts with finding out what you want, then looking at what's at risk for you to get what you want. Once you see the spots, you honor the reasons for them and decide which ones you want to take.
I think the Shadow Work® I've done has helped protect me, in a number of ways.
In general, in each phase there's a risk in going from one end of the loop to the other, meaning you can get stuck there. When you do, the place you're stuck gets inflated or extreme because it isn't balanced by the energy at the other end of the loop. Knowing what phase you're in can help you detect when you're stuck, as can knowing what's at risk to go to the other end of the loop.
In Phase One when you're inspired by a new idea and hoping it will help you can get stuck either in the idealized vision or in the vulnerability of hope.
Alyce Barry is a Certified Shadow Work® Group Facilitator and Coach in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. She is the author of Practically Shameless, available in paperback and on audio CD. Read more about Alyce.
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