July 2019, by Cliff Barry
The word “Co-Development” is not in the dictionary. But we like that, because the word has no baggage. We can define it for ourselves.
CoDevelopment is a word we’re adding to our Shadow Work jargon, because it describes something special about our work. CoDevelopment is actually like the glue that holds Shadow Work together. It helps to produce the safety people experience at a Shadow Work event, because it contributes to the mom-and-pop balance of energies we present. CoDevelopment is at the core of our practice.
CoDevelopment contains a unique way of collaborating with a partner or co-facilitator. It requires us to dig into our own shadows and process them. In so doing, it co-creates a solution that’s been forged in the fire of our interchange. The magic is actually in the way we polarize, process and then co-produce a unique result. Rather than a simple compromise, CoDevelopment creates a third alternative that’s more loving and more powerful than either of our opposing viewpoints. It generates a safer field.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” -Rumi
If you watch old couples talking, they often seem to be fighting about things — but if you look more closely, they might not be actually fighting, they might just be expressing strong opposing opinions. Differentiation is an important part of evolution. But in humans it’s even more intentional. We don’t just polarize in the way our bodies adapt, but in the way we think and feel and present ourselves. And we also present our polarizations to each other. And, hopefully, we do this in a way that doesn’t end the entire co-development process. If someone says, “You’re just wrong, this is the way it is”, then co-development is OVER right there.
CoDevelopment is really a whole process. It can be described by the three “P’s”:
Let’s suppose Cliff and Vicki are talking on the phone with a man who’s a potential coaching client, and he says,
“In my work, I want to go really, really deep. But I also want to keep things really positive. I’m not into that negative, small-minded kind of thinking that some people get into when they are crying about how wounded they got. Let’s just keep everything on the sunny side, ok?”
This is what we call an Inflated Sovereign Wound.
But suppose Cliff and Vicki have polarized reactions to this man and to his statement. They often do. Speaking about it after the call, Cliff might say, “Wow, he just wants to bypass the deep stuff by calling it ‘negative.’ That won’t work. We have to confront him on this.”
But Vicki might say, “I think he’s just been rejected a lot. Couldn’t we just hold him in his wound and see if it all works out during the session?”
Cliff and Vicki start going back and forth, even arguing about whether to confront him or just hold him patiently.
Both Cliff and Vicki are uncomfortable with their conflicting perspectives, so they decide to sleep on it. That night, they each see a shadow in themselves that tainted their vision of this man.
- Cliff sees himself in this guy, and he doesn’t like this tendency in himself. So he reacted in a more confrontational way. So Cliff did a piece of anger work until he reached a little breakthrough. Having processed his anger through, he could now tolerate the man’s inflation more easily, and could sense the opportunity for a different approach.
- Vicki saw her younger brother in this man, and growing up she always just supported her brother. So she reacted to this man in a more accepting way. So she did some work around supporting her brother and remembered her brother didn’t always appreciate the help. So she became more willing to challenge this man.
Then Cliff and Vicki come together, each with a deeper awareness about themselves and about the client. From this place, they see a new way to work with him which incorporates their deeper perspectives. In the end they tell him,
“We can see a way for you to go even deeper than you are currently imagining. We can take you deeper than deep. But this will challenge you to take some even deeper risks than you have taken before. Are you up for that?”
He rises to the challenge, and says yes. So they work with him until he comes up against his deeper wounds. Then he says,
“Boy this is getting really negative!”
But then Cliff and Vicki can say,
“Well that’s one of the bigger risks we challenged you to take.”
This puts the man in a position to face some negative things, while being supported to go even deeper than before. This approach has incorporated both sides of Cliff and Vicki’s polarization, and yet it’s a new field, a fresh approach.
And this is CoDevelopment in action. The key is to “do your own work first.” It’s to dig into your own shadows and find a way through them. When you do, you see better because you are coming from a deeper place. You aren’t just compromising in a rational way. You are CoDeveloping by working with your own emotions as well.
Shadow Work contains many tools that can help you process your reactions more quickly and easily when you are CoDeveloping with a partner.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:
We believe that when people process something emotionally they then see it differently. Human beings are not “thinking beings that happen to feel”, but rather they are “FEELING beings that happen to THINK.” So to get a really deeper result, you need to process your emotions as well as your thoughts.
You see this very clearly on Shadow Work carpets, where people go through processes. When they get down to their emotions, and their emotions change, they start seeing themselves very differently. They will often see the dynamics that has been plaguing them in a new, more positive light.
CoDevelopment gives you another way to look at how you collaborate. You probably know how to polarize. That comes naturally. But how do you process your own reactions when you are at odds with a partner? How vulnerable can you let yourself be? How far are you willing to go to process your own stuff in order to reach a better solution?
You probably CoDevelop better on some issues than others. When you are having difficulty, you might say,
“I know I’m right.” “I’ve got this.” “I’ll take it from here.”
“I don’t care, let’s just do it your way.”
While these might be solutions in some cases, they are not CoDevelopment. They lack the emotional processing to find a deeper solution.
Shadow Work has been designed around the practice of CoDevlopment in a number of ways:
— We insist on having two facilitators for every process because the best facilitation is CoDeveloped between two people who have been doing their own work relative to the facilitation in which they are partnering.
— We insist on having two trainers at every Shadow Work Facilitator Training or Coaching Training.
— The Shadow Work model itself has been forged through the process of CoDevelopment between Cliff and Vicki. Before he found Vicki, Cliff Codeveloped the Shadow Work model with his previous partners. CoDevelopment was built into Shadow Work from the beginning.
— The Shadow Work model itself highlights the importance of seeing the paradoxes that exist in every process. In this case, it’s not two people Co-Developing, but two paradoxical approaches which need to be ironed out within the brain of each facilitator.
- Should I offer some theory now, or plunge the participant into something more experiential?
- Should I follow the participant’s urge to be independent now, or bring in the need for connection?
- Should I support the participant’s quest in life, or highlight the need for security?
— The Shadow Work model talks about each facilitator viewing the situation with both eyes, because that provides the best depth perception.
— Certified Shadow Work Facilitators are required to come together to “do their own work” every two years to stay certified. This means we must all learn to grow by CoDeveloping with our shadows.
If you learn to facilitate Shadow Work, you will need to learn CoDevelopment, also. If you are leading any kind of organization, it becomes important to CoDevelop with someone else when dealing with the people in the organization. CoDevelopoment becomes like the glue that helps to hold the organization together.
CoDevelopment is actually a generic version of good parenting. And since parenting is a universal imprint on all people, CoDevelopment becomes a universally important strategy for helping people in the family dynamics which organizations contain.
Until now, we didn’t have our own word for this cornerstone of Shadow Work, but now we do.
There’s a great tool for learning to CoDevelop in the way you speak. It’s called Clean Talk, and you can begin learning about it right on the Shadow Work webpage. There’s a Map of Clean Talk, and audio recordings to explain.