4 Micronarratives of the 4 Directions of Emotions
In reality, it's a little more complicated
The valence of emotions relate to the homeostatic experience of needs. Later articles will delve more into this theme. "Good" is about restoring preferred levels of functioning. Whether relief from pain or pleasure from fulfilled desire. "Bad" is getting too far from preferrred levels of functioning. Whether from unfulfilled desire or unrelieved pain.
In each micronarrative below, a fictional character is described as going through each of these four types of need conveying emotions. Each starts with desire and quickly progresses around this cycle to illustrate this phenomenon. You are encouraged to picture yourself going through this cycle of need conveying emotional experience. We're keeping it simple, as we appreciate reality is a little more complex than what we illustrate there. But we need to start somewhere.
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"There's a time to plant and a time to reap."
What if there was a tool to find when it's best to plant relationships and when to reap from them? Now there is.
about this new field called indigentology, the study of human need.
But to be fair,
it is (so far)
the only blog about this new field called indigentology.
The blog takes these ideas and tries to make them plain.
There is no good or bad except for need. Emotions become our most trusted messengers to quickly see what we understand as good or bad for us.
"Good" is restoring preferred levels of functioning. "Bad" is what detracts from such preferred levels of functioning. Emotions, therefore, convey our experience of our homeostatic based needs.
The further from a preferred homeostatic equilibrium the generally more intense the desire or pain. The further a return to equilibrium the generally more intense the relief or pleasure. This is where turn next, to the intensity of our emotional experiences.
Keeping this all in perspective
Emotions with a positive valance typically let you feel good. Emotions with a negative valance typically leaves you feeling bad. Together, they keep us attentive to any need requiring some decision.
The positive valence conveys either relief from pain or pleasure from fulfilled desire. The negative valance conveys either pain from some perceived threat or persistence of some unfulfilled desire.
These abstract bones are fleshed out here with concrete micro-narratives. Four short-short stories try to bring these to life, to see them in action.
A documentary on the New Great Migration left Rhea curious (desire) about her own roots. After listening to her grandma’s stories, Rhea finally understood (pleasure) why she stood out. Still, the teasing from neighbors left her annoyed (pain). Her grandmother then assured her those neighbors were just jealous, which encouraged Rhea to once again feel peaceful (relief).
Feeling curious about her roots expresses Rhea’s desire for some meaning to her background.
Understanding meaningful differences from her neighbors provides Rhea with a measure of pleasure.
Still being annoyed by the teasing warns of the pain of a persisting threat of social exclusion.
Feeling peaceful from a fresh perspective provides a sense of relief from such a threat.
After being diagnosed with depression, Omera felt a need to belong (desire) somewhere in her large family. Her cousin Tahira included (pleasure) her in with her own meditation exercises which she used to combat her postpartum depression. But Tamira canceled their sessions to make more time for her kids, leaving Omera disappointed (pain). Her mother then joined her in these exercises, which permitted (relief) Omera to strengthen their familial bonds.
Needing to belong is a desire to be drawn into the tightknit security of a cohesive group.
Being included by someone provides a sense of pleasure, of restored social connection.
Suffering disappointed is a type of pain to warn the loss of something important that was expected.
Replacing the loss permitted Rhea some relief from her earlier disappointment.
to be valued
These four directions of need-communication, of emotions, do not always remain discrete. They may converge, defying simple categorization. They may intersect, and merge, as the needs they communicate become entwined.
A threat experienced as pain may coincide with a desire. For example, the pain from a mate’s jealousy may be experienced as a desire when seeking some verification of being worthy of jealousy. The warning of some threat to be removed may just be the thing to draw in something else—pushing something out to keep something else in.
And relief may be experienced as a curious form of pleasure. For example, the relief felt after emptying one’s bladder may also be experienced as a form of pleasure. Removal of a threat that’s experienced as a relief can be quite pleasurable—a restoration of homeostatic equilibrium.
To put it simply, we are typically attracted to feeling good while seeking to avoid feeling bad. And we generally experience many emotions at once, overlapping and fusing at times. All for the motive of restoring us to some semblance of functional balance.
On their first day on the job, Lee simply wanted to be valued (desire). A customer noted Trey’s added effort toward customer service, and affirmed (pleasure) it with a generous tip. When a coworker became jealous and tripped Trey in front of others, Trey was humiliated (pain). But their supervisor interceded and encouraged (relief) Trey that no coworker would get away with such mistreatment.
Wanting to be valued is a desire to draw something in, such as drawing in the appreciation of others.
Receiving affirmation is a pleasure as a result of experiencing such appreciation.
Being humiliated or embarrassed drags one painfully below an optimal level of social functioning.
Receiving encouragement has a way of relieving the embarrassment by bringing one back up to that preferred level of social interaction.
After his mother was released from jail, Dre yearned for her affection (desire). After a week of adjustments, he was happy (pleasure) to finally spend all day with his momma. After she returned to work, the sudden reduced time with momma left him quite depressed (pain). His momma found a way to start bringing him to her job, allowing much of his depression to be released (relief).
Receiving affection fulfills a desire for familial embrace.
Being happy for an outcome conveys the pleasure of a need fulfilled.
Feeling depressed conveys the pain of this threat to his need for reliable affection.
Being released from depression indicates a relief from such a threat.
Sample of these directional emotions
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