What is Happening for Us?

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Have you noticed recently that everyone seems to be either going to India, doing Yoga, chanting, taking time out to find themselves, feeling a desire to ‘opt out’ or are simply wanting to slow down and relax? Having an understanding of Spiral Dynamics and the Values Hierarchy helps us understand exactly what is going on.

Values Level 5 – StriveDrive

For a while there everything seemed to be speeding up. People wanted more things that were: faster, flashier, better, more productive, more efficient, more effective and they wanted it all right now! They wanted more money, more success, more luxury, more status, more admiration, more toys – everything was go, go, go and instead of it making them MORE content, it simply made them feel more restless and more stressed. (Spiral Dynamics – Values Level 5) As far as many people are concerned, materialism hasn’t delivered on its advertised promises and has left them with high mortgages and credit card debt along with unfulfilled expectations: about life, what it means to be human and the meaning of happiness. Or for those who have succeeded at Values Level 5 – feeling bewildered that although they have achieved everything they wanted they still feel unhappy and that life seems meaningless. (Values Level 5 transitioning to 6)

What we are experiencing now is a backlash against the illusion that material things can buy happiness, which of-course intellectually everyone knew anyway. People are moving away from the societal emphasis on power and are again wanting to embrace love, the inward search, spirituality and peace. If you’re wondering if this is just you or your friends or whether it’s actually a worldwide western trend, you need look no further than Tony Robbins. Where he was once the epitome of ‘Rah Rah’ and disseminated the secrets of goal setting, acquisition and success, he is now renamed Tonyji and is the new face of spirituality, disseminating blessings, love and oneness. (Values Level 6)

Values Level 6 – HumanBond

It is interesting that the last time this happened on a mass scale, we were also in the middle of an American led war. At that time, Vietnam ushered in the 60s peace movement and the Beatles considered India their spiritual home. Although ‘times-are-a-changing’ again, the context is very different. The major 1960s backlash was against the restrictions and conformity of the 1950s (Values Level 4), where following rules, being disciplined and working hard were all admired. The 1960s, as a result, became about opting out of the type of conditioning that leads to blindly following orders and instead exploring peace, love and freedom or (was that free-love and pacifism?). However, even in this ‘free-thinking’ time, people were actually still looking for charismatic leaders and a cause to follow and once the war was over there was no focus of energy.

Values Level 3 – PowerGods

The 1960s degenerated into 1970s anarchism – Punk Rock replaced Peaceful Protest and anger ‘Rules OK’. (Values Level 3) Why were people angry? Because peace and love began to hide a deeper hypocrisy and as people were taken advantage of, ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loose.’ Free love and the sexual revolution meant that many women felt they couldn’t say ‘no’. Being ideologically correct became simply another form of control and group consensus restricted individual action and expression. The world was still full of poverty, abuse and war and nothing seemed to have fundamentally changed. Suddenly people wanted to take things into their own hands and feel individually powerful. Of-course a society cannot sustain such a movement and function, so things settled, the economy recovered and people made money.

Values Level 5 – StriveDrive

In the 1980s people made money on an unprecedented level. Owning your own home wasn’t considered success and even ordinary people had investment properties and shares. Even though the 1990s saw a rocking of the economy, it was seen more as a challenge to overcome with positive thinking and action, than something that required an ideological shift.

Values Level 7 – FlexFlow

So where does that leave us in the ‘naughties’. I think first of all it is important to realise that just because there are societal trends doesn’t mean that everyone in that society is at the same values level and thinks in the same way. Clare Graves, a visionary psychologist who began writing surprisingly enough in the 50s, predicted that after the world went through it’s cycle of Values Levels 3, 4, 5, 6 that there would be what he called ‘a tier change’. This is values level 7 – where all the resources of the other values levels are available but not the restrictions. Where people can learn from others but fundamentally think for themselves. Where people question and debate and find the solution that gives the best results, rather than following the rules and people look for information and inspiration from the enlightened rather than follow gurus.

There is fundamentally nothing wrong with any values level. It is simply the best response of a person’s nervous system to the environment they find themselves in. In these times where information is so readily available and anything goes, where people have more trouble creating boundaries than breaking them and simple solutions are clichés for the simple minded, it becomes vital that we can contemplate paradoxes and still take action, that we can learn from others and still think for ourselves, that we can be spiritual and still make a practical contribution to our world and that we can finally find a balance between our love of others and personal power.

We do not have the luxury of time that some people had 40 years ago in the 1960s, to possibly opt out and contemplate our navels, our world is at a crucial tipping point and every thinking person needs to play their part, finding a path between personal involution and the evolution of group consciousness.
If you would like to find out more about Spiral Dynamics then come to the Focus Group Spiral Up Your Values, Wed 9th April, 6.45pm registration finishes at 9.30pm, Crows Nest Centre, 2 Ernest Place, (at the end of Ernest Rd,) Crows Nest. You will find it an evening of profound information and irreverent fun as we explore the values levels together. Book now

P.S One final thought to leave you with:

“At each stage of human existence the adult man is off on his quest of his holy grail, the way of life he seeks by which to live… As he sets off on each quest, he believes he will find the answer to his existence. Yet, much to his surprise and much to his dismay, he finds at every stage that the solution to existence is not the solution he has come to find. Every stage he reaches leaves him disconcerted and perplexed. It is simply that as he solves one set of human problems he finds a new set in their place. The quest is never ending.” Clare Graves (1929-1986)

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