Psychological Stage 4.0

4.0 Stage of Development (Pluralist)

Subtle. Collective.Reciprocal

In the 4.0 stage, the emphasis is on the collective, but now collectives are no longer seen as concrete situations or single circumstances, but rather as contexts, which are subtler. You may experience how contexts, which are socially constructed, shape your growth, development and identity, and that of others. The belief in the social construction of reality as a worldview is common at this stage and experiencing directly how you yourself are constructed by your context is an ongoing exploration. All events depend on their particular circumstances and thus, are relative. This includes the effect of culture, family norms, and educational containers. A fascination often develops with exploring multiple contexts that are different from the ones people are familiar with.

Thus in this stage you often see that the goal seeking of the previous stage can easily go awry because of a lack of appreciation of context, which makes each plan dependent on particular circumstances, which in truth are continually changing. No amount of meticulous planning, scientific measurement and refined reasoning can make you immune to the biases and particularities of context.

These multiple, changing insights about interior and exterior contexts can be difficult to prioritize at this early fourth-person perspective, so you may tend to foreground horizontal approaches and background hierarchy and prioritization. You may find yourself wanting to be in the moment, rather than thinking about the future and appreciate the extraordinary "power of now."

This developing awareness allows you to notice that others are seeing you on a subtle level, as you can see others in return. You can recognize a subtle reciprocity between you and others, including the recognition that others may be able to apprehend and distinguish subtle qualities in you that you can't see and can share their interiors with you in a way that will help you find your authentic self. Indeed, you probably can't find your authentic self without others because they are capable of seeing parts of you that you can't. Thus you may move toward collaborative approaches that support everyone to speak their voice, including decision-making, and by doing so, this allows each person to look within themselves to see if that voice rings true for them. Assumptions, interpretations, judgments, projections, paradox — subtle interior contexts – are all in play in these conversations.

The greater sensitivity and awareness may bring forth experiences of subtle energies, intuitions, dreams, subtle mind, emotions, somatic feelings, synchronicity, and a plethora of internal voices. At times you may experience this as a voice from the beyond, or the universe speaking subtly to you. Similar to the 2.0 rule-oriented stage, but in a more subtle mythic way, you may not be able to discern the difference between these interior subtle experiences and exterior subtle experiences. This, along with a subtle adaptability to what everyone says in the moment, may put you on an inside experience within a complex adaptive system, like a bird in a flock. You may find yourself engaging with others within the sea of collective subtle ideas, thoughts, assumptions, etc., individually adapting momentarily to the whole of the context of your collective. This may bring up experiences of synchronicity—for people can experience ideas, thoughts and feelings coming up simultaneously in the group, which can sometimes be experienced as a collective intelligence with its own persona.

The sensitivity to context and sense of embeddedness and reciprocity gives rise to an appreciation of all of life, beyond that of humans. Rights may be championed for plants and animals. The planet itself may be seen as an alive being, so awareness of and care for the environmental ecosystem takes on a new role. Your beliefs extend beyond world centric, the honoring human rights, to sentient centric, honoring the rights of all living things.

People experiencing this stage

  • Experience subtle both/and understandings. You and me, and I will foreground "we."
  • Can see others seeing them, with subtle awareness. Talk "with" others on subtle levels rather than "at."
  • Sees how self and others are socially constructed by their contexts, and this all ideas and knowledge is relative.
  • Are situated in a time frame that includes parent and children's lifetime; 10+ years forward and back, yet oriented to the "now."
  • Operates in space and embraces all sentient life. Context awareness leads them to protect environment.
  • Aware of assumptions, interpretations, ambiguity, paradoxes, judgments, intuitions, internal voices, subtle energies, which may take on a life of their own.
  • Can't easily prioritize contexts and values pluralism and diversity of view point.
  • Find that process is more important than goal orientation.
  • Welcome feedback as necessary for self-knowledge and to uncover hidden aspects of their own self.
  • Seek to discover and be their authentic self: challenge assumptions, expectations, and societal norms.
  • Want everyone to be free of judgments, dogma, etc, but tend to not see their own dogmatic projection on those who don't believe what they do.


  • Enjoy discovering their authentic self and expressing that to others by talking about their rich interior lives
  • Become overwhelmed by this richness and can have difficulty navigating life's seeming fragmentation
  • Benefit by having their authentic, differentiated self, mirrored back to them accurately, especially because they have outgrown societal conventions and may not be seen or reflected clearly by the mainstream
  • Enjoy frequent "epiphanies" of new insight related to their newfound ability to see the many contexts within themselves and in life
  • Will enthusiastically seek out and experiment with a plethora of personal growth modalities including therapy, books, peer learning, classes, retreats, bodywork, spiritual practices and philosophies
  • Benefit by learning to integrate their post-conventional insights and new self into their conventional work and world
  • Trauma at this stage can lead to a diminishment of their subtle self in the subtle contextual collective— so they may get lost in a new personal growth infatuation based on popularity rather than functional acumen.
  • Trauma may support regression to the 3.5 Achiever level which may offer a more definable set of rules and understandings to fall back on, and help them find their way through the chaos.
  • Can be held back by tyranny of goodness — causing much contraction in the body — can be exhausted by the cost of caring.
  • May work with disowned healthy aggression. Healthy ego, healthy narcissism can help bring balance.
  • Deeper engagement with the subtle body can occur now making somatic work powerful and integrative.
  • Can be completely had by feeling states — tracking/ chasing what feels good can lead to frustration to getting anywhere with anything.