You feel it before you know it
Your needs point to an object. They point to some resource to relieve or resolve the need.
How we routinely experience our needs affects how we regularly think about them.
vague awareness: just coming into view, with low resolution
binary awareness: black-and-white image
continuum awareness: grayscale image comes into view
matrices awareness: sharp imagery, almost too vivid
1. Vague awareness
You’re ambiguously aware something is out of whack. Is it hunger? Or longing for something missing that just feels like hunger? Or nothing? For now, you’re only vaguely aware that something isn’t quite right.
It’s at the tip of your tongue. It reports something is there. You can’t put your finger on it yet. It’s nebulous. Beyond words. Not yet categorical.
Just in case, you’re poised to act if necessary. If it’s thirst, you’re subconsciously ready to reach for some water. If sensing your car is starting to slide, you automatically reach for the brakes.
Your intuition serves you well in these fleeting moments. Similar experiences shape your cognitive filter, to give you an instant idea of what it’s about.
2. Binary awareness
It suddenly sinks in. The threat is real. A set of binary options rapidly fires through your mind.
Is this need urgent or not? If so, do I need immediate relief or not? If true, can I do anything about it now or not? If yes, is it my responsibility or not? If no, who can I blame?
This “binary tree” empowers you to instantly react. So you can be ready to protect yourself on the weakest of cues. Long before a dangerous threat makes it too late to react.
Black-and-white thinking dominates. You’re either threatened or not. You either fight or flight. If the threat proves fatal, there’s no time for nuance.
Intuition continues to dominate. Particularly in familiar situations. Your autopilot lets you move through a bunch of triggered needs without tedious reflection. It’s rather efficient.
3. Continuum awareness
If no imminent threat, you can pause to reflect. You have time to consider your options. You have room to become aware of a continuum of possibilities.
Black-and-white thinking gives way to seeing more gray areas in between. Fixed extremes melt into matters of degree. Can it wait till tomorrow, till next week, or next year, or indefinitely? Will it result in me feeling mildly anxious, or increasingly dreadful, or in paralyzing terror?
With more to consider, you can more carefully respond. Instead of just serving your interests, you entertain what’s best for everyone.
In more novel situations, intuition gives way to reason. You optimize results with rational arguments. Instead of “do I stay or go” you ponder “if I stay an hour or if I stay two hours or three.”
The better the results, the more sharpened our reactions and responses when the need recurs. Especially if we must rely on our initial intuitive response.
4. Matrices awareness
You start seeing one thing connected with another. One set of options overlap with another. You’re aware of a matrix of possibilities.
If you leave now, your friend will be disappointed in you, or mildly irritated with you, or possibly slip into a rage. If you leave now and she is only disappointed, she may not return your call tomorrow, or leave an angry voicemail, or ghost you.
You realize the complexities involved in your decisions. Previously reasoned conclusions now get packaged in your organized memory for rapid recall.
You prefer to create optimal results. But you cannot possibly consider every nuance for every situation all the time. You would become overwhelmed with all these intersecting and overlapping possibilities.
So reason dissolves into intuition. Your cognitive filter gets refined. Recurring needs then pass through a better-informed vague awareness. Rinse and repeat.
Balancing intuition and reason
Can you see how this cycle mirrors the duration cycle?
vague report –- involuntary stimuli, sensation triggering need
binary reaction – volitional action prioritizing personal self-continuance
continuum response – volitional action prioritizing prosocial responsibilities
matrices result – involuntary stimuli, consequential cues shaping perceptions
Western culture has long celebrated the role of reasoning over intuition. Feelings can’t be trusted, or can they? If they can, trusted for what?
Nature-based anakelogy takes these popular beliefs about emotions to task. Far from inconveniences believed to be from broken psychological, emotions personally convey needs.
Emotions point to an object because they personally convey the resource to relieve that need.
Modern society relies on rational-legal authority to attend our many needs. Laws impersonally convey needs. Good, when needs resolve. When they don’t, the results bleed into political conflicts.
To keep laws applicable across diverse peoples with diverse needs in diverse circumstances, laws tend to be intentionally vague. They generalize to a fault. We trust the judiciary to clean up any messes.
It’s your life, your needs
Modern life presents many novel situations. So we make mistakes. Even the judiciary relies on overarching generalizations.
The judiciary relies on binary thinking (guilt-or-innocent, offense-or-defense) to offer relief. The judiciary, in the name of reason, remains unaccountable to specific need outcomes and actual personal and social functioning.
Your needs cannot play by rules serving others. Laws do not literally govern you. The nature behind your needs govern you, compel you to act toward optimal functioning. Laws at best guide our need-governed actions for optimal social results.
Reason emerges to play a dominate role. In novel situations, that’s a good idea. Where “reason” is forced to play an exclusive role over intuition, problems inevitably emerge.
No, it’s not just politics
We generalize with our politics, our values, our cultural beliefs. We apply a lot to a few—in the name of reason. But, honestly, such “reasoning” systemically overlooks your specific needs.
In the name of reason and law, you’re expected to adjust to fewer and fewer of your needs fully resolving. You’re forced to adjust to a buildup of pain.
You follow the unwritten code of not letting others see how damaging this truly is. You manage how others see you as we all fool ourselves—in the name of reason—that this the best we can do.
Yes, you can
The more needs you fully resolve, the more you can trust your intuition. The more you can rely on your feelings to help produce results in optimal functioning.
In many ways, you already do. With these anakelogical insights, you can now appreciate how and why.
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.