4 Directions of Emotions

Between each of these four directions of emotions is a specific need conveying experience.


Two of them—depleting and exceeding—are the experiences of moving away from equilibrium. They are what happens to the body.


At the maximally allowed point of depletion is the homeostatic apoapsis. Functionability tends to break down when depletion falls below this point.


The other two—replenishing and removing—are the experiences of trying to return to equilibrium. They are what the body does to in response to the felt need.


At the maximally allowable point of excess is the homeostatic periapsis. Functionality becomes limited with too much excess to be removed.

Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red

Each emotion conveys the homeostatic experience of one or more needs. From moving away from homeostatic equilibrium to returning toward equilibrium. Then moving past this equilibrium in the opposite direction, in an ongoing 4-part cycle.

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"There's a time to plant and a time to reap."


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Depleting > Desire
Depleting is when a homeostatic level falls below its temporal equilibrium. This initial depletion is unlikely to have significant impact upon one's functioning. Desire is when the body signals the need to bring a homeostatic level back up. This occurs when a level falls too low for functioning, when that need's homeostatic apaopsis has been reached.
To illustrate, think of how water comes in and out of the body. When no fluid needs to come or go, a temporal homeostasis has been reached. And this is typically experienced emotionally as being satiated. And then the body's need for fluid equilibrium slips off one's radar. This is essentially the same experience as the emotional need for those closest in your life, and being content with that social distance. 
Once the body's fluid level drops too low, becoming dangerously depleted, desire triggers an awareness to draw in more fluids. This normally elicits the feeling of thirst. To prompt action to stop further depletion, and bring that level back up. This is the same process as for food, for drawing in air into the lungs to bring oxygen to the brain. This is basically the same process as our many emotional desires, such as desiring to be closer to your loved ones. The desire for food can serve as proxy for unmet emotional desires.
Replenishing > Pleasure
Replenishing is bringing back up a homeostatic level that was dropping. This often involves something outside of the body being brought into the body or something distant being drawn closer to one's life. Pleasure is experiencing this replenishing reach an optimally functional level. Sometimes the pleasure produced is from drawing in something that boosts some homeostatic level other than the originally prompted need.
Continuing with the body fluid example, replenishing is drinking water or some digestible fluid. This process also applies to emotional needs. To be close to loved ones after spending some time apart (e.g. coming home after work, waking in the morning), replenishing involves mutually engaging one another in ways that each draws closer to each other. During this process each indicates how close is emotionally acceptable at that time.
Once the body's need for an optimal fluid level has been reached it is normally experienced as feeling quenched. This signals to stop drinking or doing whatever one was doing to replenish some recently depleted level. For emotional needs, this includes enjoying affection, receiving affirmation and feeling loved. With the emotional level reached, whatever effort to produce it often discontinues.
This brings us back to being satiated in regard to that need. Once an optimal level has been restored, there is commonly a period of temporal homeostasis. Little stays in place for long. Meanwhile, one is free to focus on other matters. Loved ones enjoys the fruits of their invested labors, in this harvest phase of their relationship. This typically is a precursor to a phase where the homeostatic level shifts in the opposite direction.
Exceeding > Pain (or Discomfort)

Exceeding is when a homeostatic level rises too high for further functioning. This can either be too much of something that was needed, or something never needed and presents as a threat. Pain is the body's signal that the excess is enough of a threat to call for some action to move it out. This occurs along a continuum, from mild discomfort drawing intial attention to threat to overwhelming agony forcing one to obsess on threat removal. 


The temporal homeostasis of being satiated is about to pass. Meanwhile, as long as the body's fluid level remains comfortably optimal one's attention is free to focus on other matters. Satisfaction of emotional needs often allows one to invest their relationship fruits toward other needs. For example, now that I feel more fully affirmed by one who values me I can now more freely explore how to feel more self-affirming.
When the body's fluid level climbs too high, the bladder fills and triggers awareness of the body's fluid excess. Mirroring the depleting above, this experience of discomfort, or pain, is experiencing the body's report its need and not one's action toward it. That comes next. For now, the emotion alerts the presence of too much of something. Something to be removed. Or to remove oneself from the threat.
Removing > Relief

Removing is putting some distance between oneself and a threat to functioning. Either by expelling from the body something in excess, or compelling some distance to some threat remaining outside of one's body. Relief is experiencing this removal to the point of restoring an optimally functional level. Whether by expelling the excess from the body or distancing the body from some external threat. 


Once the bladder is filled to the point of obsessing over a restroom break the removal of the excess consumes one's attention. Or the bladder is emptied at the first sensation of its excess, allowing attention to spread to other matters. If unable to remove enough of the excess, of the threat, attention to the need may linger. This is often a complicted feeling when one suddenly needs solitude away from a loved one who is always there.


When the bladder is fully emptied out the need for removal is experienced as relief. This is basically the same relief felt when removing the threat of someone feared. Or getting rid of excessive noise. Or distancing oneself from a source of anger. The sensation of relief can be found in such emotions as resolved grief, peace after enduring anxiety, and acceptance after suffering the pain of rejection.


The feeling of being satiated from some discomfort can sometimes be experienced as both a relief and a pleasure. Consider the sensation after driving on a long trip and not easily finding a rest stop, then finally being able to empty your bladder. There is this overlap of experiencing the drawing in of a preferred state from expelling what prevented it. Such satiation is also temporal, often returning to the depleting discussed above.


Emotion Homeostasis

Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red
Homeostasis zones: green, yellow, red

We can start with the simple binary of yin and yang. Think of yin (dark area) as representing inward directed energies. Think of yang (white area) as representing outward directed energies. These differentiate further into salient segments of our cyclic need conveying emotions, into the four directions of our emotions. As illustrated below.i


The four directions of emotions involves an intersection of two complementary cycles. There is the cycle of the homeostatic levels rising above its normal functioning levels, illustrated here with the process of emptying a full bladder for relief. Then there is the cycle of the homeostatic levels dropping too low for comfort, illustrated here with the process of quenching thirst.


Every feeling goes through these homeostatic phases. The point of each emotion is to report where in this homeostatic process is the experience of a need. Two of the four are active: replenishing and removing. The emotion is about us doing something about the experienced need. The other two are passive: depleting and exceeding. They merely alert us to the need.


Consider any emotion you are feeling right now or have been feeling. And then reflect on the need it may be conveying to you this moment. Next, link how well you are able to restore the equilibrium of each emotionally reported need with your current level of functioning. Emotions are need messengers that continually guide us toward normal or even optimal functioning. Every emotion provides a status for our experience of needs.


Are you feeling it?
















Pulling this all together



4 Homeostatic Experiences of Emotion

solving problems by resolving needs
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