Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Extinction: Are we running out of time?

Call of Life: Facing the 6th Mass Extinction event.

Big Love Integral Relationship Models Compared

In the work I'm doing developing and presenting my new workshop, Big Love Integral, Conscious Romantic Relationship in an Integral Context, I've developed a chart to compare six different relationship models so we can see how they compare to each other.

Like most models of consciousness from developmental psychologists, this chart clearly shows that different people measure different things, yet all are important, and all have a piece of the puzzle. And, as Ken Wilber says, no one has the whole truth. This is consciousness wrapped up in relationship, and when it comes to exposing where we need work, either as individuals. couples, or societies, nothing kicks our ass like love and relationship.

Relationship exposes every childhood wound, every shadow, every shortcoming, every fear, every thing. And the more conscious we are, the more we can see it. Fortunately, the good news is, once we see it, we have an opportunity to make friends with what we see. It isn't easy, but seeing and getting these shadows, wounds, etc., in a cognitive manner -- Again, as Wilber says, the cognitive leads -- is the first step in turning the subjective into the objective, or lessening their hold on us and our relationship.

My own fears of abandonment from my core wounds are still there, but now I can see them for what they are when they come up for me. Instead of fearing my partner is pulling back, I can now see my own role, realizing it's my issue, not hers. In doing this, I also free her from her core wounds of engulfment, or feeling smothered.

All of the models shown on the chart, with the exception of Spiral Dynamics, are about individuals and couples in relationship. Spiral Dynamics, is about values in relationship, and the various stages that both people and societies move through. In the United States, where I live, our societal center of gravity centers around Blue and Orange, hence, our natural tendencies toward rule of law, divine authority, absolutism (blue), achievement, merit, and materialism (orange). Over the last 50 years, we've seen the effect of relativistic post-modernism (green) upon relationship. Most has been good (being equal is better than male domination or partners as status symbols), some bad (50% divorce rate). Not all would agree post-modernism has been good, and again, they would be partially right. But personally, I'd rather live in later stage consciousness even with it's problems.

Spiral Dynamics -- as a relationship model -- in Module 2 was the largest, and by far, most interesting of the models. Since only a small part of American culture has reached Green, it may still be too early to tell what effect this post-modernism may ultimately have on relationship.

One thing is clear, Integral relationship, or relationship at the integral stage of consciousness, is still only a blip on the horizon.

Graphic and Comparison Model copyright 2007 Gary Stamper and may only be used with credit and a link back to the Big Love Integral website

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Developmental Relationship Model Around Core Wounds

A Developmental Relationship Model by Anyaa T. McAndrew and Gary Stamper

(Some of the following text was Adapted from John Welwood's Journey of the Heart. The model was developed by Anyaa and Gary in conversation around Big Love Integral, the workshop on Conscious Relationship in an Integral Context.)

People often choose a partner with a script that is the mirror reversal of their own. Thus a person with a fear of engulfment will pair up with someone who has a fear of abandonment. Whenever her fear comes up, she creates distance. This in turn brings up his fear, which makes him grab at her, further activating her fear of engulfment. "Pressing each other's buttons" in this way, they become polarized in mutually antagonistic positions that threaten to drive them apart. As they say, "It was a match made in heaven," but quite opposite to what the phrase intended. Karma throws us together to work through the challenges of this relationship dynamic.

His father had been emotionally distant, and this had made him distrustful that a woman could ever be there for him. Thus he regards her need for solitude and "her own space" as a constant threat. He is always wary that she might be on the verge of leaving him, and repeatedly seeks proof that she really loves him. She, on the other hand, becomes suspicious whenever men express their affection too ardently or demand hers in return. Her father had turned to his daughter to fill his emotional needs. Feeling overwhelmed by her father's needs, and lacking protection from her father, she had learned to protect herself by keeping a safe distance from him.

So when he approaches her out of his abandonment panic, she becomes claustrophobic and goes into an engulfment panic. She cannot understand his urgency unless he was, like her father, out to eat her alive. And he cannot understand why she is so unwilling to give him what he needs unless she was, like his father, distant, punishing, and cold. Their fights, underneath all their convoluted tangles, has a single theme: "You're abandoning me." . . . "No, you're engulfing me." . . .This dynamic repeats with millions of couples.

In her conflict with him, she is in pain about feeling engulfed by his need for loving contact. When she opens to this pain, it connects her with a deep wound from her past: her conflicted feelings about needing to be an individual in her own right. Although she will blame him for not letting her have her own space, the truth is that she does not really feel entitled to it. This is because of her guilt about having to push away her father in order to be herself. . . .

In a similar way, by exploring the pain he feels in chasing after her, he contacts his old wound - his conflicted feelings about needing love. Because he had felt so unfulfilled as a child, part of him had come to believe that he is unworthy of love. Before he can make friends with his need for loving contact, he too has to become aware of his critic, who says, "You're so needy - what's wrong with you?" . . .These insights require a penetrating look at the shadow from which the behavior comes.

This is Stage One of the Model we've developed around Core Wounds: The Distancer and the Pursuer. The Pursuer is the one who chases the other, generally to "capture" or own them, for it is only through completely owning the other that the Pursuer feels safe. The Distancer, on the other hand, is the one who runs, who needs to avoid capture to maintain the freedom they didn't get as a result of their core wounds. All of this is done completely unconsciously at this stage.

These core wounds aren't necessarily childhood events, but , rather, can occur at any time in one's life.

Stage Two of the Core Wounds Model is all about Merge and Separation. These aren't so much identities for one another as they are a description as to what happens in the relationship. At this stage, when the couple comes together, they tend to lose their individual selves (hence, the merge) in each other. They want to be close, but the core wounds that still exist and which haven't been addressed, pull them apart, and they engage in conflict to unconsciously create distance and space. There's much more to this, but it is also where make-up sex occurs. It's an unconscious dance.

As they make friends with their needs, they no longer feel compelled to project their fears. No longer seeing each as oppressors, they can begin to communicate what they are actually experiencing in their conflicts. When he simply says "I'm feeling abandoned and scared right now," she becomes less defensive. And when she says, "I'm feeling overwhelmed and put on the spot," this disarms him. . . .

The final healing of the rift between he and she happens as they come to recognize, through working on themselves, that both these needs - to be strong individuals and to be close to each other - belong equally to each of them. As he comes to accept his need for love, he can discover why it has always been so hard to feel: It brings up his terror of being left alone. He had hated his aloneness as a child because it was associated with deprivation, which had felt like a threat to his survival. By relating to his inner child in a caring way and educating him to the present situation - that being alone is no longer a threat to his survival - he loosens the hold that his old abandonment stories have on him. .

Through their struggles he and she have learned a powerful, essential lesson: that relationship, rather than being just a form of togetherness, is a ceaseless flowing back and forth between joining and separating, Stage Three of the Core Wounds model, or Integration and Differentiation. Just as the moon begins to wane at the peak of its fullness and the tide ebbs at the height of its flux, so after moments of intense connecting two partners naturally begin to fall back into their aloneness. And in moments when they feel most separate, a desire is born to come together again. The health of a relationship depends on both partners being able to move freely back and forth between these two poles.

This is a key discovery for every relationship. We often imagine that having our own space in a relationship is the opposite of being intimate. Yet actually the reverse is true, and this is the key point: Space is what allows intimacy to happen. It enables two people to meet and touch freshly, to "see each other whole and against a wide sky," as Rilke put it. Rilke's lover concurred when she wrote, "Two are one only when they remain two." The electricity in a couple's erotic connection flows most freely when they are not entangled, but rather feel themselves as two distinct, separate poles, man and woman.

However, more than just polarity, in this space and in the differentiation, each partner is able to gather new experiences and learnings to bring back to the relationship to keep it, and them, interesting, vital, and ever growing and changing through integration back into the one, a more indivisible whole.

Graphic and chart copyright 2007 Gary Stamper. Click on image for a larger version. This chart and model may only be used with credit and a link back to the Big Love website.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

An Individual Couple’s Journey Through Development via Spiral Dynamics

Yesterday I presented the second module of my Big Love Integral workshop. There are six modules to the workshop, as this is a very big subject: "Conscious Romantic Relationship in an Integral Context."

The second module is all about relationship as it fits into various developmental models with the biggest emphasis on Spiral Dynamics Integral. After we had finished going over the model and what relationship looked like in each of the seven vMemes (value memes, or levels of development based on values), I was asked to layout a specific relationship as it progressed through the spiral.

Because I'm certainly most familiar with my own relationship, it was an obvious choice (Anyaa and I have an agreement that we can use our relationship as teaching moments, and we pretty much let it all hang out....with much love and respect, of course!).

So here's how I see our relationship as it moved from the earliest survival moments into where I think it is today. As we progressed from a first email to today’s flex and flow of co-creation, our relationship has clearly gone through developmental stages, just as individuals and civilizations do.

Not all of the traits of each of these Value Memes (vMemes) show up, because we are, after all, happening in a modern context and from our own developmental perspectives. Still, aspects of these stages have definitely been present.

Beige, Basic Survival: We talked on the phone for two months, always deciding if we wanted to continue the long-distance conversation. Some close calls. Distance was, and still is, the hardest factor.

Purple, Tribal: Some feeling of magic around the relationship begins to develop. “The Universe brought us together.” Rituals begin forming. Recreational sex.

Red, Power, Ego: It didn’t take long for us to hit a power struggle in our relationship over keeping commitments. Because we brought later stage consciousness to it, we sailed through fairly easily.

Blue, Authoritarian, Rule of Law: We begin to set up how we do things. Who does what? What’s okay in the relationship, what’s not? Bring order and stability. A sense of responsibility toward each other.

Orange, Materialistic, Achiever: We want to have the best relationship possible. You are an amazing partner and you bring out the best in me (partner as status). The intersubjective “we” begins to develop internal values of its own.

Green, Egalitarianism, Equality: We are equals, 50/50 relationship (Deida’s Stage 2), we share some responsibilities, particularly around financial arrangements because of our long distance relationship status. Also a sense of “All We Need Is Love” tries to creep in.

Yellow, Existential, Systemic: Co-creation, we create and take responsibility for our own relationship and its evolution. We see the big picture of a shared higher purpose, and ease into chaos, change, flex and flow. Recreational sex still exists, but there's also a sense of co-creational sex (procreational sex was never really an option for us!).

I have absolutely no idea what relationship, looks like at Turquoise and beyond, but I very much hope to bring that perspective to you one day, as I think we've both got one foot in it!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Big Love Integral, Module 2

If you're in Seattle, or close by, and you don't already have plans, Saturday is Module 2 of my developing workshop, Big Love Integral, A Participatory Exploration of Conscious Romantic Relationship In An Integral Context.

In this module, we'll start out with a meditation designed to help you improve your relationship or to call one in, some practices designed to get out of our heads and to open our hearts to possibilities and the learning space, and developmental models such as David Deida, Lawrence Kohlberg, Harville Hendrix, Robert Kegan, and a very special tour of Spiral Dynamics and meme-equivalents in relationship. We'll spend some time on typologies, primarily the Enneagram and MBTI.

This is a great context in which to further your understanding of the broad integral approach!

I'll also unveil my own developmental model around our Core Wounds and how they affect our relationships, and we'll talk about relationship and love from an Integral Perspective through the work of Jean Gebser.

Plus, we'll have a great time! Hope to see you there!

For info on time and location, go here .

Big Love, all,


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Not Too Much Flak...or notice....

One of my best friends, whom I love dearly, and I sometimes disagree around the political landscape. In an email to the SeattleIntegral list, where I also published my thoughts on the the Homeland Security Presidential Directive, he asked if I thought publishing a doctored photo of (then Governor) George Bush giving the finger on camera was a bit too much.

Actually, it's a real still frame taken from this video, and you can see for yourself who this sophomoric person really is, and in my opinion, remains. That's not to say he's stupid, or isn't a threat to our freedom and the constitution. In his defense, we've all done things in a joking manner that shouldn't haunt us all our lives.

I can certainly see that different people will look at the same information and come up with different interpretations. Plus, we're all going to fiercely attempt to hold on to our beliefs, no matter what...including me.

Cognitive Bias: 26 Reasons What You Think is Right is Wrong

Still, I prefer to remain vigilant and be wrong, than to not be vigilant and be right. Especially with this administration' s record.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! :)

Last, I believe the reason today's neo-cons are so bad at government is because they don't believe in government. Their goal is to dismantle every public program and turn it over to private enterprise. From Reagan, and continuing with Bush II, they have no awareness of what this country was built upon: the commons. Without the commons, we'll be a corporatacracy, and I believe that unfettered path is leading the human race down a path of global extinction.