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We’re all equally in trouble. Because nobody is perfect.

1,474 words

Making better choices is only half of it. The other half? Others making better choices with and toward you.

Quick review

Previously, I used the four-quadrant wheel to show how you naturally cycle through four psychosocial growth seasons.

  • spring – drawing closer in a relationship

  • summer – mostly together with one another

  • autumn – drifting apart from one another

  • winter – mostly alone in meaningful solitude

Then I matched this to your four types of psychosocial relational needs.

Applying this same nature-based anakelogy cycle, I now fit these into three types of wellness cycles. These link how well you function with how well your psychosocial needs are met.

  • green zone – your psychosocial needs fully resolve, so you function optimally

  • yellow zone – your psychosocial needs don’t fully resolve, but you function adequately

  • red zone – your psychosocial needs remain painfully unresolved; function collapses

Finally, for good measure, I add a fourth wheel. To roll over some questionable notions.


1. Green zone wellness cycle

Have a drink of water. Your thirst goes away. Likewise, when you draw closer to a trustworthy friend while feeling lonely, your loneliness likely goes away.


The more you can fully resolve your emotional needs when they occur, the more readily the pain goes away. You can function better.

Simply put:

1) you resolve your needs together, or apart;

2) which increases functioning for you and for others you impact,

3) which removes your pain.

You can then freely focus on others things. You promptly go from at-rest to aware or to alert and back fully to at-rest.

  • You satisfy your interdependency need for negotiating trust when finding one trustworthy.

  • You then satisfy your dependency needs with mutual affirmation.

  • Your counterdependency need to integrate more of your autonomy is realized.

  • Your independency need for self-efficacy caps off with liberating responsibility.

Rinse and repeat.

2. Yellow zone wellness cycle

With no water available, you guzzle down some soda pop. Your thirst subsides but doesn’t entirely go away. Your body still requires what you didn’t give it. Likewise, you try drawing closer to a casual friend for some social comfort, but she’s preoccupied with her phone.


The less you can fully resolve your emotional needs as they occur, the more its pain may linger. You function adequately.

Simply put:

1) you try to resolve your needs together or alone;

2) but without fully resolving those needs you function below an optimal level,

3) which relieves your pain but not necessarily removes it entirely.

You don’t always return to that at-rest line of functional equilibrium. But you can still function well enough while kept aware of what’s missing. Or you may have to remain on alert.

  • Your interdependency need suffers with the mounting mistrust.

  • Your dependency needs pull you into compulsory cooperation.

  • Your counterdependency need for autonomy gets squashed.

  • Your independency need for personal space snaps into stolen moments of indulgent freedom.

Rinse and repeat.

3. Red zone wellness cycle

With nothing to drink at all, your thirst persists painfully unquenched. Without satisfying what your body requires, you can barely function. And not for much longer. Without anyone to talk to for days when most needing affection and affirmation, your ability to function faces collapse.


With nothing to drink at all, your thirst persists painfully unquenched. Without satisfying what your body requires, you can barely function. And not for much longer. Without anyone to talk to for days when most needing affection and affirmation, your ability to function faces collapse.

The less your emotional needs fully resolve, the more its pain builds up to potentially overwhelm you. You function poorly.

Simply put:

1) you’re increasingly overwhelmed with pain form these unmet needs;

2) so your capacity to function shrinks more and more,

3) which results in more and more pain to pile up layer by layer.

Each recurring psychosocial need enters already painfully unmet. Collapsing functionality solidifies into full blown pathology. As these needs go unmet, you find yourself stuck on alarm.

  • Your unmet interdependency needs suffer with routine distrust.

  • Your unmet dependency needs sink you into coercive cooperation.

  • Your unmet counterdependency needs impulsively demands self-rewards to ease your painfully neglected autonomy.

  • Your unmet independency needs explode into the exploitive freedom of liberating yourself no matter what that does to others.

Rinse and repeat. Or change course.

A call to humility and love

Modernity with all its material conveniences tends to inconvenience our emotional needs. Access to more stuff may lead us down a path of less meaningful love.

When was the last time you approached a neighbor to ask, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Can you recall a time when a neighbor was so generous to you?

You need others. Others depend on you. As psychosocial beings, we impact each other’s needs in countless hidden ways.

Being smart and educated simply is not enough. Smart folks can be cruel. Learning challenged individuals can be graciously generous. Love rides more on humility than on an impressive résumé.

The offense cycle applies to us all

The longer your psychosocial needs remain strained, the more in danger of sliding to extremes. Your vulnerability shoots up for do something extreme for relief.

If you think you’re immune to cycling into a criminal mindset, think again. That red zone cycle applies to anyone cut off from resolving their psychosocial relational needs. It matches up eerily with a cycle of abuse diagram I once saw.


Replicated here, it illustrates how violent offenders pass through predictable phases. Instead of committing random acts, they slide through stages mirroring the red zone cycle above.

  • Unresolved interdependency needs explain the “let down” phase of offenders, who impulsively apologize when exposed, but lack insight into their impulsive actions.

  • Unresolved dependency needs explain the “pretend normal” phase of offenders, who repress their impulsivity in a way that turns their violence inward, to erupt later.

  • Unresolved counterdependency needs explain the “build up” phase of offenders, when they impulsively relieve this mounting pain in a pattern leading up to a violent act.

  • Unresolved independency needs explain the “act out” phase of offenders, when their pent-up frustrations finally explode into a shamefully violent act against others.

Rinse and repeat, in a vicious cycle. Often leading to arrest and conviction. But not always.

Othering in the mirror

Popular notions of criminality “others” anyone dragged through the criminal justice system. You’re nothing like them, right? Your intensely felt need for security can easily bias you on this point.

You share the same psychosocial needs as those violent offenders. If systemically unresolved to the point of overwhelming pain, how can you be so sure you wouldn’t act desperately for relief? There are plenty of ways to act out violently for relief without being subjected to the criminal justice system.

It’s easy to other violent offenders as full of thinking errors. It’s easy to assume you would never make such poor choices.

Think about this oft-overlooked thinking error. If the offense is felonious then it’s truly bad, right? But if violating other’s rights in a way not deemed felonious, then that’s not so bad as those offenders. Or is it?

Ultimately, your only foe is your unmet need

Unresolved needs distort thinking. You could be “grooming” for relief without even realizing it. “Sometimes groomed behavior occurs unknown to the offender. Oftentimes, the offender engages in verbal and physical coercion, seduction, games, and enticements as part of the grooming process.” Couldn’t the same be said about overzealous policing?

Sometimes xenophobic profiling behavior occurs unknowingly by law enforcement. Oftentimes, law enforcement engages in verbal and physical coercion (during arrests), seduction ("Give us some names and we’ll let you go."), games (Reid technique interrogations), and enticements (plea deals) as part of their profiling of assumed offenders.

As a wrongly convicted asexual transperson, I’ve experienced this firsthand. Once housed alongside violent offenders, I had to graciously relate to their humanity to survive. They quickly disabused me of my thinking error. Love thy neighbor shifted from mere aspirational ideal to daily practice. My life depended on it. Ultimately, so does yours.

Prisoners who complain about maltreatment are desperately trying to tell you something. Dismissing it all as stereotypical self-denial, to rationalize your objectification of loathed others, exposes your psychosociopathology. Ignoring unmet needs is ultimately your worst foe.

Spreading the need-resolving pain-removing love

We’re all in this together. We impact one another. While not personally responsible for others we hardly know, we nonetheless affect each other’s psychosocial wellness cycles. Even if only remotely. There’s always room for more love.

Start at home. Begin with your neighbor. Listen to others as they couch their vulnerable needs in contentious political terms. Hear the painful needs behind that guarded rhetoric. React less with your own triggered needs. Spread that love, and you will be loved.

Until you reach that golden standard of resolving each other’s needs without imposing your own, some humility is in order. You’re unlikely to remain in the green zone if hating others for the pain you’re in. Hating the pain or others you blame for the pain usually gets you more pain. Hate does not remove pain. Only need-resolving love can do that.


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. Delve deeper into how unmet psychosocial needs shape your politics by previewing Defusing Polarization: Understanding Divisive Politics, my eCourse available at Udemy.


Steph is a self-described transspirit, which is a kind of sacred misfit. By transcending conventional limits—gender norms, religious identities, political polarities, and more—Steph experiences a unique connection in life. And suspects others do as well. This blog shares that spirituality, and affirms others of a similar state of being.

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