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Survival, Tribal and Power Values
Evolution of Human Systems © Martyn Carruthers & Janelle Doan 1995

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Who are we if we are not our bodies, nor our self-talk? Who are we if we are not our memories, nor our expectations? What are the organizing principles around which we live? We found that these organizing principles appear to be pre-verbal experiences of connectedness or integrity, the Soul of Soulwork.

Part 2: Levels 4, 5 and 6

Part 3: Levels 7, 8 and 9

Clare Graves

An American psychologist, Clare Graves (1914-1986), described values as a basis for the evolution of human relationship systems. This is the first of three articles about using Graves' research to appreciate human diversity. (Note: Clare Graves' work was subsequently described in Spiral Dynamics by Beck and Cowan) although their interpretation and labeling differ from ours).

Abraham Maslow postulated that all humans have similar needs, and that they satisfy their needs in a predictable sequence. One of his students, Clare Graves, attempted to create a pencil and paper instrument to identify what needs were currently pursued. Graves later concluded that a person's needs change with his or her values; and that a person's values change in a predictable way.

We used Graves' research on values to better understand the existential states of identity from which a person can experience the integrated connectedness that we called Integrity, or Soul. We called them Visions.

Values and Visions

As we combined Graves' research with our understanding of human systems, we began to see human evolution manifested in the ways that we strive to be effective. Here we describe steps that lead from the non-conceptual experience typical of early childhood to the sophisticated worlds of self-actualized people. This model also applies to groups, from nomadic pre-tribal bands to the United Nations.

We hope to talk you through experiences of each Vision type. We hope that you remember times when you experienced some of your earlier values levels, and that you can imagine Visions that you have not yet experienced.

In this way we better understood how other people think and act the way they do. We use this information to increase your rapport with a wider variety of people and, hopefully, decrease any arrogance that our values are more appropriate than somebody else's.

This is not an attempt to pigeonhole people - all of us seem to have all of these "levels" available to us at all times. We hope you can better appreciate people with different values (and different worlds) to your own. Here are the first three of these nine value levels, as we understand them today (Canada, 1995):

Value Level 1: “I will survive!”

I survive by seeking food, water and shelter. To you I may seem more like a wild animal or an abandoned child. Everything is new each day and I look at the world without your beliefs or theories.

At my best I am self-sufficient. At my worst I am helpless. People like me were once common, before we grouped together into tribes. Today you can see people like me in abandoned children, in some retarded and senile people and in some street people. You could become like me during a war or a famine. Imagine you are the sole survivor of an airplane crash in a remote region … you would act like me ... if you want to survive.

I cannot understand your religions or philosophies. I live, I hunger and everything is a mystery! I know some things, like where to seek food and shelter. I follow my instincts and adapt. I live in my senses - I touch, smell and taste things as much as I can.

More important than anything is a warm, safe place with food and water. “Love” is how I feel about somebody who cares for me and reassures me, somebody who can touch me and give me food, drink and shelter. I show my love by unconditional acceptance.

Sometimes I want to live together with other people like me. Sometimes I want a strong caretaker.

Value Level  2: “Our family / tribe must survive!”

Together, we can survive in this mysterious world. We need a strong chief, a knowing shaman, wise elders and powerful totems to protect us from other tribes and from spirits around us.

We are conservative. We totally obey our chief, shaman and elders. Our elders know what the spirits and ancestors want and how we can please them. Our elders decide our roles - and we rigidly follow them. We honor our ancestors and our tribal heroes.

In some ways we are like ancient tribes and pre-adolescent children. Look for us now in remote parts of the world - and living under city bridges. You will also find people quite like us in close families, in some cults and in some sporting teams.

If your gods are more powerful than our gods, then of course we try to please your gods. We may try to adapt to you and your ideas about how we should live. If we cannot adapt to you or avoid you, we may drug ourselves with alcohol or narcotics, or even kill ourselves, to escape from confusion and fear.

At our worst we are like slaves to our chief or shaman. At our best we are loyal to our elders and are trustworthy companions. We prefer to live in tribes with strong, caring chiefs. Do not assume that we can read or that we can understand concepts like "owning land". When our needs are met, we may go away until we need something else.

Do not harm or insult our tribe! Do not defile our sacred ground, violate our taboos or mock our rituals! Do not make the spirits angry! Do nothing that weakens us!

Our religion and traditions guide and protect us. We like rituals, fantasy, magical symbols and pictures. We learn best from the stories about our ancestral heroes.

More important than anything is the survival of our tribe. "Love" for us is being accepted by our chief, elders and tribe members. We show love by obeying the chief and elders and, if they tell us to, by accepting you into the safety of our tribe.

Sometimes I think about leaving my tribe. Maybe I can start my own tribe. Maybe I can be chief.

Value Level 3: “I must have power!”

In my world, the powerful dominate the weak. I want power and respect and I want it NOW! I fight all threats. If you try to shame me or control me, I will rebel. You had better be more powerful than me!

I am aggressive and impulsive. I am selfish and I take what I can. I depend on myself and I may try to exploit you. My motto is "Might makes right". I cannot feel guilt (but if I have to, I can pretend like I do).

Look for me watching violent movies. See me in teenagers. Look for me in tough jobs and sports. See me in gangs and at violent crimes. Look for me in muscle and beauty contests. Find me in prison.

I can be bitter and hostile. At my worst I am a destructive rebel and can only tolerate other tough people, like in a gang or a prison. I often break your stupid laws. My only crime is getting caught! I like drugs or anything that makes me feel more powerful.

I like attention and risks. At my best I am energetic and innovative. Like my heroes, I get what I want. I like to show my strength in tough work, but I may only work if someone tougher is watching me.

If I am not the most powerful, I will try to associate and be seen with powerful people. I must have respect!

Do not waste my time with weak appeals. If you are weak I will exploit you! I will test your authority and reject your rules. I will do anything for the right reward. Dare me to do things! Show me how I benefit. Respect my strength and give me power.

Do not threaten me! Do not insult my family or enter my territory uninvited! Do not mock me! Above all, do not shame me before powerful people. I will get revenge!

My religion gives me luck, makes me feel good and tests my courage. Love me by respecting me and giving me space. “Love” is a word I use to get what I want. I show tenderness only when we are alone.

More important than anything is my immediate gratification of my desires. I want to have a good time - all the time.

As I get older, younger people fight me for my position. I want a respected permanent position. Sometimes I dream of stability and security.

Level 3 slogan:

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley!”

We hope you find these descriptions useful.
Researching them helped us better appreciate, understand and communicate.
We describe other values in Values 4, 5 & 6 and Values 7, 8 & 9.

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Plagiarism is theft © Martyn Carruthers and Janelle Doan, March 1995-2018 All rights reserved

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright © Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email