Are you feeling good, or bad? Here’s simply why.
Your emotions provide direction. Good or bad.
When something goes your way you naturally feel good. Right? When things go terribly wrong, you understandably feel bad. Why?
Simply, according to nature-based anakelogy, because your emotions convey your needs. Specifically, your emotions convey the direction of your needs. Good feelings flow when your needs find relief. Bad feelings flow when they don’t.
Your homeostatic cycle of emotions
Let’s look at this through the lens of indigenous wisdom. Its four-quadrant-circle sheds light on life’s many intersecting cycles. Including the many back-and-forth balancing acts of emotions.
Think of each of your needs. For food and water. For shelter. For friendship. For security. For meaning in life. Each involves the experience of moving toward easing that need, or moving away from easing such needs.
Homeostasis involves this moving up and down across a relatively stable line of balance. That’s represented here as the green area running through the center, left to right across the circle.
This creates four basic directions for your emotions:
discomfort (or any level of pain),
All your other emotions fit into one or more of these four basic need-conveying directions. Each result from something occurring to your needs—two what happens to you (exceeding and depleting) and two how you respond (removing and replenishing).
You feel discomfort when exceeding some limit. Someone gets too close. You drink too much. Some new law threatens your livelihood. All generally bad for you.
You feel relief when removing that excess. That person moves along. You use the restroom. That regulatory threat to your livelihood gets removed. All comfortably good.
You feel desire when depleting your reserves. You wish your friend would call. You hunger for something rich in protein. You desperately await your paycheck. For the moment, not so good.
You feel pleasure when replenishing your tank. Your friend calls with encouraging words. You eat your favorite protein-rich meal. You finally receive your paycheck. All pleasantly good.
Morality for needs
Generally speaking, desire draws in, expecting pleasure. While pain repels, anticipating relief. Both enable you to get back to full functioning.
Although, sometimes you resort to substitutes. You get some pleasure from something that doesn’t fully replenish your loss. You find some relief from something that doesn’t fully remove the threat. What may seem aesthetically good risks turning out bad.
Just about any use of the word “good” and “bad” points to this basic experience. There is no good nor bad except for need. In more ways than one, morality serves as code for needs.
Can you think of any time you regarded anything as good or bad that was not connected in some way to how you felt about some need?
Steph Turner is the founder of anakelogy, the study of need. Also the founder of Value Relating to apply anakelogy to your painful needs, offering a viable alternative to stigmatizing psychotherapy, by inviting you to speak your truth to power.