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Dive deep into what you actually need, suffer less anguish

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Your needs point to an object. They point to some resource to relieve or resolve the need.


Nature-based anakelogy, illustrates how you experience your needs in a progression from your innermost functional balance, outwardly to how you will address that experienced need. That sounds a bit abstract, doesn’t it? Let’s unpack it with some clear examples.

Need-experience funnel

You routinely experience your needs in a flash through a funnel of need-experience.

  1. core need: core homeostatic balance, essential to function

  2. resource need: something necessary to restore core balance

  3. access need: how to get the necessary resource, or any substitutes

  4. psychosocial need: who is to access it, me or someone else


1. Core need

Whenever you say you need some water, you actually don’t “need” water as much as you require fluid equilibrium throughout your cellular body. Or temperature equilibrium.

Water is your shortcut way of saying it. Thirst is you experiencing your body falling outside of optimal fluidity. Or optimal temperature. You simply know it by what’s typically required to restore functional balance.

Your body automatically regulates these levels of functionality. If restoring balance calls for some action, your body sends you the appropriate emotion. You thirst. You long for a friendly call. You lay down when feeling tired.

If there’s nothing you can do to restore balance—like when your blood pressure slips outside of its optimal level—your body doesn’t warn you. Your body tries to return to optimal circulation on its own.

2. Resource need

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.

Your typical core needs calls for some external resource to restore functional balance. Water, for example. A heater to warm you up when necessary. Air conditioner to cool your body back down.

These items themselves do not exist in your body at the core need level. Rather, they affect your internal core functioning with something external to the body.

A person listening intently to you share your story serves as a kind of resource. Your core need for affirmation from others is served from this person who remains outside of you.

Resources are those persons and things that nudge you back to functional balance. They often symbolize needs. But unlike core needs, resources are not the literal needs themselves. They’re one step removed from your core needs.

3. Access need

So your body’s requirement for fluid equilibrium is best restored by the plentiful resource of water. But how do you get that substance? Where on the outside do you access it?

Do you get it from a water bottle you purchased at the store? Or from a drinking fountain nearby? Or tap water from your own sink? While resources tend to be few, how to access them varies.

You can access the resource of encouraging words from inspirational scripture, or from a touching video, or from an encouraging friend. Accessing resources removes you two steps from your core needs.

When essential resources remain inaccessible, you likely reach for some applicable alternative. It may resolve your need just the same.

Or it’s merely a substitute that eases the pain, but does not restore your core need as well. Functioning then declines.

4. Psychosocial needs

If the resource you need is accessible, who is to access it? You? Or someone else? Is it your property, or someone else’s? Is it under someone else’s administrative control?

The more freely you can access it yourself, the more your self-needs get served. You can be confidently self-sufficient. You can maintain autonomy. You can feel adequately self-secure.

If you must count on others to access it for you, your social needs could be better served. You feel a sense of belonging. Providing it for you means you’re an honored member of the group. You’re protected.

If having to access it through others, perhaps you’d prefer to access it on your own. You then experience your self-needs as less resolved.

If having to access it on your own with your meager means, perhaps you’d prefer others to help access it for you. You comparatively experience your social-needs as less resolved.

While your core needs restore balance in very few ways, your psychosocial needs can spread in countless possibilities. So the suffering parent of unmet needs counts many anguished children.

Your servant emotions

You face discomfort anywhere along this need-experience funnel. No wonder pain abounds. You face many hurdles before you can fully resolve your needs.

The more your unmet needs build up, the pain you suffer. The more urgently your body seeks their relief. The less tolerable this mounting pain, the more attractive extreme options promising relief.

Violence may seem like such an option. Generalizing offers a more popular form of relief. Politics lets you generalize for relief.

You can find relief with similar others, to affect policies so that the state can use its threat of violence to compel access to resources otherwise out of reach.

Where laws impersonally convey your needs, emotions personally convey your needs. Those who are less political likely suffer fewer unresolved needs. From core, resource, access to psychosocial needs, their functionality restores sufficiently enough to escape suffering.

Someone pointed out how the need-experience funnel items make an interesting acronym. I considered changing it. Then I realized how fitting this was: Life and politics is full of CRAP!

By understanding this anakelogical insight into your needs, and your emotions that convey them, your life of struggling needs shouldn’t have to stink so bad.


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.