The Evolution of Safety Along the Spiral


While feeling all the feels about the SCOTUS decisions this week, as usual my mind went back to Amber and its utter stubbornness to change. It got me thinking about the psychological causes of such stubbornness, and I was reminded of how the ego falls into habits designed to help it feel safe and secure.

It then hit me that it’s entirely likely that our relationship to safety (what is it, how does it operate in our lives, etc) can be directly correlated to each level along the spiral. For example, at Beige, survival is paramount–therefore, our amygdalae are going to be highly attuned to anything even remotely looking like a threat in our environment. I was walking to get dinner at an In 'N Out burger yesterday and pondered a lone seagull in the parking lot that was eyeing me up. Once I hit a certain distance away, it quickly started its little trot in the opposite direction. This is sort of how I see safety playing out at beige; keeping everything that could even remotely be a physical threat at a distance.

This fear of literal death I think continues to play out in more subconscious ways as we evolve along the spiral. With purple, we now see the physical safety of the tribe being paramount, and seeing other tribes as a threat to that safety. Additionally, safety is sought in dealing with the “gods” in the form of rote performance of rituals (and it’s interesting to track the Vedas, which tracked Hindu rituals, became the Upanishads as Hindu consciousness evolved and a deeper, less rote meaning was sought).

We then get to Red, where safety of the ego becomes paramount, and start to see how not just physical safety, but psychological safety becomes part of our consciousness. The integrity of the psyche is why we get narcissism on the unhealthy end of the spectrum.

With Amber, we now have society, which means that the safety of the society–and its culture (one could argue, the psyche of the society)–becomes the primary focus. Social norms are enforced, often through laws, and often in response to the shenanigans of Red (though, typically, Amber has the habit of simply suppressing Red rather than transcending and including it, and we all know how that turns out!). But we also get an incredibly strong push to preserve culture and tradition at all costs, and this is what I think we’re seeing with the SCOTUS decisions. The textualists are arguably all at Amber given they are going from the literal, “traditional” interpretation of the constitution. But the underlying motivations are rooted in safety of what they feel is their cultural norm, and any perspective outside of that is going to feel highly threatening.

Orange then becomes safety of the individual’s materialistic gains. I suspect there are also suppressed Amber and Red tendencies toward ego and social safety there as well, depending on well the individual transcended and included the previous levels. We see this approach to safety in the “profits at all costs” mentality in corporate circles, as though the loss of any profit would equate to death of the ego, if not literal death.

With Green, equality becomes the house of safety. Anything that feels like it is attacking equality is going to become the enemy (and thus the subconscious Green contradiction that leads to “mean-green-syndrome” is born when confronted with the prior levels).

What I love about Tier 2 is that the entire approach to safety shifts since the approach to fear shifts in the psyche. Once we get to Tier 2, it becomes easier to take what might be termed risks at prior levels, thus allowing for advancement. It also seems that a larger view of what safety can be emerges… perhaps safety at the species level: ie, what must we do for our species to survive, as well as thrive? That latter bit is also a shift in Tier 2, because it isn’t just focused on survival, but the ways we can thrive and evolve.

From a holon level, when we look Tier 1 vs Tier 2 as holons themselves, we start to see that Tier 2 is repeating the survival needs from Tier 1, but in a wholly new way with a completely new approach–through a desire to thrive and evolve. It’s realized that survival requires evolution. Tier 2 as a holon includes Tier 1, but also transcends it by learning the lesson that safety isn’t the only motivator one should adopt–there are others that both affirm safety as well as transcend it, allowing new ways of evolving and being in the world.

Anyway, just some musings that popped up today I thought I would share with the group. I’d love to see what others think about this. I feel like a new approach to safety at the Tier 1 levels might be one way we can foster faster evolution to help toward that Tier 2 tipping point we all hope for.



Beautiful that you bring the Amygdala, our physiology, our hardware into the forefront.
There is much written (Goleman et al) discuss how the Amygadala is always hanging out, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ready.
Can we differentiate between Biege (bear stalking you) fear and Green non equality fear with all the layers in between.
You mention the feels we have going on. I’ve been looking at and processing my own fear of intellectual oppression with our culture war (Green/Amber?) and physical with the calls for civil unrest (Amber/Red?) and loss of property/savings (Orange?) due to inflation and economic instability.
For myself all I know to do is be prepared as best as possible for worst case without limiting better case options.
Don’t know if this has anything to do with Tier 2 or a clear indicator of lower altitudes. Lol.


Hi, all,
For years, I’ve wondered what the structure-stages are stages of, because they didn’t coincide neatly with the psychodynamic model, which is deep and both structural and dynamic. I thought perhaps the stages pertained to attitudes or belief systems. I’ve thought that part of psychodynamic development seemed to be progressive stages in “what we cathect to,” like food for the ego as it matures.