Investing like a king: finding profits, not chasing validation

The central contrast: finding profits or seeking validation

KING OF SHADOWS

Through a personal development network, I was introduced to a set of four classic psychological archetypes: the King, the Magician, the Warrior, and the Lover. I will mention all four below, then focus on my understanding of The King.

I am aware that different authors have written about these archetypes (or similar ones). What Carl Jung wrote may not be quite the same as what Joseph Campbell wrote. What I write will be distinct as well.

Note that I consider these archetypes to be broad categories of normal stages of development. There is no absolute boundary between the different categories. There is a cyclic maturation that can transition very gradually from one stage to the next.

Before we talk about kings specifically, let’s talk about the normal patterns of common people (who are not kings or queens or any other kind of ruler). Most people filter their experience through ideals about what should be and what should not be. They present to the world certain details and interpretations, which form their persona. They distract or hide certain details or interpretations, which form their “psychological shadow.” The shadow is “how I am not” (according to them) and it is developed from “how people should not be.”

The youngest children have not yet learned language and social theatrics. Even when they do begin to experiment with social theatrics, they tend to do so playfully (rather than habitually creating the same dynamic or hysterically forming the same patterns of relationship).

Over time, however, due to social pressures, most children will form a specific persona. First, they seek to identify what is popular and pleasing within their social environment. They seek to avoid punishment for “bad behaviors” and seek to compete for rewards offered in exchange for “good behaviors.”

The more intense the threat of punishment, the more distress the child will experience in regard to hiding aspects of their past behind a “psychological shadow.”  Primarily, they present themselves as conforming to the popular ideals. For instance, if people should be cheerful, then they habitually repeat mantras of cheerfulness. They will also suppress the display of “inappropriate emotions” like disappointment, fright, and anger. That habitual suppression begins the forming of their “shadow.”

Then, as a second and distinct stage, they may develop a persona of “the guardian of the sacred ideals.” The first stage is focused on pleasing others (appeasing them). The second stage goes further (with additional stress in order to attract more social approval) and exerts social pressure on others.

Those who do not conform are specifically targeted, ridiculed, and attacked. In fact, warriors are actively looking for actions or inactions in others that they can condemn as flaws. Lovers, out of their preference to avoid conflict, may only admit to perceiving the “flaws” of others when under intense pressure from warriors.

Instead of just being “kind, cheerful, lovely people,” this second stage is heroic. The social warriors are guardians defending “what is right.” They display loyalty and they display it with pride.

In the event of a possible accusation of disloyalty to the sacred ideals, the warrior may display offense. The warrior does not just withdraw and appease like “the lover.” The warrior does not distract by making jokes. The warrior does not apologize and offer ritual displays of social inferiority.

The warrior will fight. They will argue ferociously. They will not back down. If the dispute exhausts them or seems hopeless, that is still not enough to interrupt their compulsion.

If they die heroically, their heroism is more important than survival. They are willing martyrs (while the lover is not so public in risking danger).

There is a third stage that may seem to be not so hysterical as the warrior (or so passive as the lover). People in that stage may even disparage the tenacity of the warriors. They may make jokes about the hypocrisy of certain fanatical warriors.

These third-stage “magicians” may seek to be recognized for their perceptiveness and insight (though they might not admit that). They present themselves as superior to most people because they are willing to avoid or withdraw from the debates and controversies that seem to magnetically trap “the warriors of righteousness.”

The magicians may condemn the naivete of most people (the lovers) and the hysteria of the warriors (the reformers). They may admit to their own past of naivete or hysteria, but that admission is to show off their new competitive superiority. They may not threaten others or ridicule others harshly, but they are still condescending and arrogant (just more gently and more subtly than the warriors).

Magicians are not compelled to reform society to conform to a particular popular ideal. It is the warriors that are “populists” (who seek to attract the approval of the naive by promising great things without regard to the actual feasibility or prudence of the reform).

Warriors want to rescue the naïve (even if that involves sacrificing some the naïve… or most of the naive). Magicians may just want the warriors to leave them alone. Magicians are not trying to defeat the various opposing factions warriors, but to repulse them and shame them and drive them away (or to themselves retreat).

They may publicly say that they want to “save the world from fanatical hysterias,” but the moment that they are left alone, they may forget about saving the world (unlike the warrior, who is truly obsessed). They are not defending a specific set of standards of “right and wrong.” In fact, they tend to mock and parody those standards (but to attract social approval from their inner circle, not to reform society).

They are willing to display the behaviors condemned by the masses as selfish or narcissistic. They are not seeking approval for conformity to popular ideals or for heroism in the defense of those ideals. They are seeking social approval still, but they are seeking social approval for their disdain of conformity.

What about kings? Kings understand all of the above and are equally comfortable displaying the “social roles” of lover, warrior, or magician as well as abstaining from the display of a particular persona as “how I really am.” They see the behavior patterns of all of the prior stages as specifically functional. Rather than condescend toward warriors and lovers (with resentment toward their inferiors about the lack of worshipful celebration for being superior, insightful magicians), they experience respect.

The kings respect the naivete of the lovers, who panic to identify what behaviors to adopt to “fit in” and thus “be safely invisible.” The lovers seek safety and their behaviors tend to promote their safety (at least much of the time).

The kings also respect the ferocity of the warriors (and the risks of being targeted by them). The warriors are drawing attention to themselves in a socially-approved way. They are asserting the interests of their allies. They are competing against the lovers (and persecuting some of them), but in the name of the same ideals that the lovers worship.

They are serving the masses by “correcting” them through penal systems and fighting heresy through censorship, inquisitions, purges, crusades, and genocides. They are in a panic to save the world from a particular kind of apocalypse which they worship (even the threat of climate change or overpopulation or contagion).

The warriors are competing for the worship of the masses. They are fighting against the other militant warriors who seek to rule the attention of the masses through propaganda and other social programming (like schooling rituals). They do certainly not call their indoctrination methods “propaganda,” but they may use the exact same methods that they condemn in others as propaganda.

The kings respect the distress and panic of the competing warriors. Magicians (as an archetypical “third stage of development”) do not actually respect the hysterical warriors. Magicians have contempt for the naïve and the hysterical, even though they might still be naïve or hysterical themselves in some way. They do not see parts of their own identity because they are still ashamed of “bad behavior.” They are still habitually condemning bad behavior in others in order to cope with their own awareness of their own past (or present).

What do kings think of magicians? Again, the kings respect the distress and the coping mechanisms of the magicians. The magicians condemn hysteria and they do it hysterically. The kings know that the magicians are focusing on “how other people should not be” as a “cover story” for their own healing process.

What the magicians habitually condemn, they first must habitually admit. Lovers and warriors do not condemn hysteria. They may condemn specific forms of hysteria, but they are unlikely to condemn it in general. Magicians condemn hysteria in general.

So, as the magicians habitually condemn hysteria, they must habitually focus on hysteria (but perhaps under the cover story of informing others or helping others to outgrow it). Magicians hysterically condemn hysteria, condemnation, and all forms of militant fanaticism except for one: militant, fanatical anti-militancy fanaticism.

Kings respect the reality of naviete, heroism (AKA antagonistic fanaticism), hysteria, habitual condemnation of psychological shadows, and everything else. They do not worship any particular ideals. They do not condemn all ideals as “idealistic.” They respect that all ideals are equally idealistic, including the hypocritical ideals that magicians like to worship, such as “there should be no such thing as ideals, expectations, presumptions, personas, etc….”

Kings might occasionally make fun of magicians or other stages, but they will not be as compulsive (or as amused) as magicians. Magicians NEED to parody other stages to display their perceived superiority (which has the function of creating seclusion or repulsing others). Kings respect that magicians are habitually displaying behaviors that they expect will repulse the naïve and hysterical. Kings respect that the magician stage seeks seclusion and privacy (which the magician associates with safety, although there are unique risks to being a recluse).

Each stage has certain behaviors which are designed to produce certain results for the practitioner. The lovers want to blend in. The warriors want to stand out. The magicians want to be left alone.

The king respects all of those stages. The king is not compelled to remain reclusive like magicians. The king, unlike the magician, is not protecting themselves from shame.

The magician is still attempting to manage the pace of the relaxing of old patterns of shame. They are gradually relaxing from patterns of chronic distress (including physical tensions to inhibit the display of certain emotions, facial expressions, or gestures) and so they seek privacy in order to be undistracted from the surfacing and releasing of chronic patterns of distress. They may even actively seek out SAFE contexts to explore distress, although that can also become a coping mechanism for triggering only certain kinds of distress and shame.

People do not need any rituals to trigger a surfacing of latent distress. They will unconsciously construct their own social theatrics to form familiar patterns of interactions (or interpersonal dynamics that they can reasonably twist in to an interior fantasy that resembles familiar traumas). They may do this at a pace and intensity that is repulsive to many others or that attracts sympathy from some. They may need significant amounts of private time to process what surfaces (such as through journaling or therapeutic art). They may be very secretive about their creations.

So, sometimes a particular social ritual (such as psychological counseling or religious confession) will be beneficial in the smooth releasing of chronic shames. For any given person, some rituals will be best and others may be counter-productive, too intense, or too elementary (boring, irrelevant).
Once a certain level of calm or maturity stabilizes, then the magician is no longer a magician. The magician is simply gone (like a caterpillar is gone when a butterfly appears). The king has died to the old self. Through grace, a transformation of the psyche has brought about the metaphorical death of the old persona and a rebirth of innate motivations (which had been socially repressed or shamed).

The new king is open to shame. The king is not avoiding all shame hysterically. In a moment of shame, the king respects the transitional arising of shame. For emphasis, the king respects shame. This means that the king is not psychologically compelled to project their shame “as shadows,” hysterically accusing others of whatever pattern of behavior they are condemning as shameful.

The people accused may or may not feel guilt (whether or not their behaviors actually fit the accusations). Guilt is simply a fear of future punishment. People in the lover stage will feel guilt about ANY accusation directed at them. People in the warrior stage will ignore some accusations, feel regret or shame about some accusations, and experience intense outrage at other accusations (often when those accusations are most accurate plus most shameful to that particular individual in the warrior stage).

Kings respect shame and social shaming. In contrast, the magicians shame the warriors for being hysterical. The warriors shame the lovers for not be hysterical the right way (for “being naïve”). The king respects all of that. The king may even influence which hysterias are imagined or denied.

The king does not condemn behavioral habits of hysteria or panic. The king respects the limited functionality of all behaviors: great fits for certain conditions and otherwise inefficient or irrelevant.

Kings may cultivate certain hysterias or panics. Kings may promote certain targets of shame (though it is the warriors who will hysterically implement the rituals created by the kings).

Kings may promote certain ideals of good behavior and bad behavior and then create curriculums to program the masses to worship those ideals. Kings respect worship. The kings experience self-respect. Most of the rest are attempting to obtain self-respect by competing with others to “deserve self-respect the most.”

The kings experience self-respect unconditionally and thus they respect others unconditionally. The masses experience distress about however they are (in comparison to programmed ideals about how they should be or should not be). The masses worship ideals including ideals about respect, but do not experience respect of themselves (or other others). So, the masses habitually and hysterically display their disrespect of others (which kings recognize as indicators of a lack of self-respect).

 


How does all of that apply to investments?

Note that the early stages are compulsively seeking validation for:

conformity to what is popular

heroism (loyalty to “what is right”)

insight (superiority over the commoners)

So, the lovers will be driven by paranoia. They desperately want to fit in. They will tend to invest in whatever ways are most popular (generally, with complete disregard for actual measures of risk or opportunity). If borrowing huge amounts of money for real estate speculation is popular, that is what they will do (and they may hysterically cling to their investment choice.) Does their favorite government approve of it? Then it MUST be safe, right? Does their favorite government even create political incentives that draw people in to that investment with tax privileges? Well then it is must be a good investment, right?

The warriors will be driven by pride. They want to “do the right thing” (and they want other people to know it and congratulate them for it). If investing in a state lottery is approved by a government that they support, then they may habitually invest in state lottery tickets “not to win, but to support a good cause.” What if they win the jackpot? Then will they still invest their winnings back in to the state lottery?

Many warriors would not invest in state lottery tickets. They may not gamble on things with better odds, but again they may not be considering the actual risks and probabilities when investing. If they borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to speculate in real estate, they MIGHT acknowledge the immense risks of their choice (unlike those in the greatest desperation). However, if they borrow a lot of money to gamble on real estate speculation, they will also fight for the government to rescue them from the natural consequences of their choice. They will not be passive with disappointing results of their chosen methods. They will campaign for a temporary bail-out (and then probably will remain invested even though the bail-out is clearly temporary). Why? Because they are busy fighting for important reforms.

They will even campaign for a government to take money from taxpayers in order to subsidize their favorite market. They may want new bail-out programs that provide tax credits or even grants for first-time home-buyers (and they will say that their desire is not based on greed for having their existing investment strategy benefited). They will rationalize their support for programs that favor them financially by saying “it is good for the country to shift demand away from other activities and toward ballooning home prices further.”

Actually, they will not say it like that. But they will make some kind of a heroic twist on their favorite political program to favor a particular market of interest to them. They are likely to favor any mandatory programs that coerce the masses in to consuming certain products that they would not purchase without the threat of government penalties. They say the programs are “good for the people.”

Is that based on extensive knowledge of the confirmed efficacy of particular medical rituals relative to competing treatment methods? No, they do not need data because “they just know that the program is inherently worthy of support.”

They want socialized retirement plans. They will fight to get it. They will fight to keep it. Then, if socialized retirement benefits become a controversial issue, they will find someone to blame for the flaws in a program that is “inherently good because of the good intentions” that they claim are at the root of the program.

Instead of recognizing socialism as a method for increasing public dependency and complacency, they will champion socialism as a path to freedom. The irony of championing a recipe for dependency as a path to freedom will not be noticed by them.

Not everyone will have the blindness of warriors in regard to socialism. Magicians will happily receive any benefits available, but will have no sense of entitlement. They will not hysterically condemn anyone who threatens to reduce or terminate a subsidy or redistribution that has favored them. They will “milk” the system without any special psychological devotion to it.

So, the naïve will invest in the most popular programs (the ones that are most intensely marketed by governments and advertisers) and thus they will reliably experience below average or average results. If the average person is losing 30% per year on their investments and approaching bankruptcy, then they will all get that same result together.

The warriors will want to occasionally punish a few token villains. In emergencies, they will want political reforms to manipulate markets and provide support to unsustainable trends. When a small nation like Iceland does something that in a sizable nation would produce an immediate international military response, the warriors will celebrate it.

They will say “buy gold because it is REAL MONEY.” They said that in 1980 prior to a long and massive decline in the purchasing power of gold, but they are not speaking based on actual market realities, but parroting the religious slogans of the governing institutions to which they are most devoted. They are reformers because they still want the government to save them from reality.

long-term gold prices in yen

What about magicians? They obsess over doing better than the ignorant masses. They are not really open to excellent results. They just want to generally do better than the masses to provide a momentary psychological satisfaction.

So, if the masses are pouring in to gold in 1980 and the magician buys platinum instead, they condescend on the masses by saying “my investment may have lost a lot of purchasing power, but not as much as yours did. Silver even went down 90-95% in purchasing power from 1980 to 1999.”

Or imagine another one saying this: “You people were idiots for expecting hyperinflation. By buying platinum, you lost double digit percentages year after year. Instead of naively investing in precious metals, I stuffed a bunch of cash under the mattress in 1980 and on average I only lost a few percent per year due to inflation (plus any income taxes on the interest earned). By the way, at least the one currency that I hoarded did not collapse like the Mexican Peso!”

They are not focused on doing well. They are focused on doing better than the people that they see as their competition, then getting acknowledgment from at least a few of those people.

Or, maybe they were early in recognizing the maturing of certain financial trends. They published warnings and alerts and forecasts of impending crisis. Then, markets behaved in conformity with their published expectations. They are driven by pride even more than most warriors.

However, they are not actually proud. They are ashamed and attempting to compensate or distract from their shames.

Did they experience a foreclosure, a catastrophic collapse of their household, and then years of financial hardship? Yes, BUT… they had good intentions in regard to telling lots of naïve people to be less naïve. Of course, the naïve people generally ignored them, but AT LEAST THEY TRIED.

How do kings invest? They invest for profit. They may be somewhat secretive about telling others how they do it or why their results are so radically different from “average.” Or, they might disclose certain details.

They measure actual market conditions with an interest in identifying unusual opportunities and risks (and monitoring inevitable changes). They may even seek to manipulate markets (similar to what warriors do, except without any special obsession about justifying their manipulations as “for the common good”). Or, if it is beneficial to them to hire lobbyists to create fraudulent research that can be used to promote a program to make certain medical treatments mandatory, then that is what they would do if they were committed to promoting the interests of a particular industry like the manufacturers of pharmaceutical drugs. But why would they be so committed to a particular industry?

If they can measure an exceptional opportunity, that could be valuable to them. If they can hire a PR team to justify massive investment in advanced military weapons, that may be because they work for a company that makes the weapons “that just need a certain kind of war.”

If they can form a cartel to monopolize the mining of diamonds, then why not invest in increasing the market demand for diamond jewelry? If production costs can be kept low, why not see how much emotional hysteria can be generated to drive public demand toward paying $100 or even $1000 for an item that cost them $1 or $10 to provide for retail purchase?

They are not trying to avoid accusations of opportunism. They are not obsessing over simply doing “above average.” They are open to honestly recognizing their interests and then assessing any methods for promoting those interests that they consider relevant.

Are they open to funding government programs and media programming that creates confusion, naivete, and obsessions about loyalty and “doing what is right” in the masses? Will they create programs to condemn the Federal Reserve’s US Dollar currency and then promote hysterical bias toward specific markets like gold or real estate?

What they do depends on the perceived risks and perceived opportunity. That means that they, unlike most, will value taking useful measurements, then establishing correlations, then perhaps taking action to manipulate or control short-term market activity (by biasing the perceptions of the blindly naive and the heroic loyalists), then benefiting from whatever opportunities that they can discern or create.

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