Staying Safe: Relational Strategies (Poster)


Is the way we behave in our relationships a matter purely of choice, of character, or could it actually be largely influenced by our early life experiences, and especially of trauma?

That’s what this poster explores. It looks at the three zones of the ‘Trauma Traffic Light‘ and how they manifest in our behaviours in our unconscious attempts to stay safe relationally.

This is a free downloadable PDF.

Page 1 is a full-colour poster.

Page 2 is a low-ink, print-friendly version.

In the ‘Working with Shame’ course, I talk about the physiology of the trauma traffic light and how the three neurobiological states (green zone – ventral vagal; amber zone – spinal sympathetic; and red zone – dorsal vagal) each produce their own characteristic behaviours in an effort to stay safe.

  • In the green zone, we seek safety through collaboration and social engagement, by getting on well with others.
  • In the amber zone we seek safety through threat and attack – through the fight response.
  • And in the red zone we seek safety through helplessness and freeze – through behaviours which make us meek and submissive.

This poster, ‘Staying Safe: Relational Strategies’, provides a summary of these built-in, instinctual behaviours. Being able to frame the way we’re responding in terms of safety-seeking, rather than our ‘personality’ or our ‘character’ or ‘who we are’ can be a really helpful first step in developing more self-compassion and, ultimately, bringing our behaviours more under conscious control.

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