Concentric circles of concerns

I use a concentric circles of needs framework to prioritize action.

At the center is me, maiki. These “circles” are rarely perfect, and sometimes shift, particularly to match my perspective.

It’s not an exact science, but then, what is? :slight_smile:

The center point of perspective in my case is a complex of foundational biological systems, supporting self-sustainability and wondrous cognitive expressions.

For this to work effectively, I need:

  • nourishment for growth
  • rest for rejuvenation
  • protection from harm


These are the consumables in my life, food, drink, and other items I ingest to process chemically.

Because of a personal quirk, I don’t actively consider the taste of food. In this framework, “good food” means it provides the nutrients I require, and it’s production should support each circle of concern since it is fundamental. Hence my interest in food supply and food security.

Our life develops in water, both as a species and as an individual. Life on Earth is tied to our liquid destiny. Clean water is required by our bodies to distribute resources, and by society to do the same. I need to drink a certain amount of water each day to survive, and drinking slightly more than enough has tremendous gains in energy efficiency. Hence my interest in water supply and water security.

Other consumables are used for internal alchemy, making it a personal journey rather than geographical or cultural (food/water supply). These include medications, herbs, supplements, etc. I use cannabis to modify my experience, a plant-based approach that comes with decades of cultural baggage. Now that legalization of this and other consumables is picking up, the same capitalist forces are engaging to profit. Hence my interest in drug legalization, cooperative agriculture practices, and criminal justice system/prison reform.


The chemical factory that is me doesn’t run in output mode at all times. It requires various forms of rest and inactivity to allow it’s self-healing and imaginative abilities to activate.

I have not always rested well. I continue to not always rest well. Sometimes because of the danger inherent in my environment, or because of a creative/agitated state of being. I wish to extend my existence as long as possible, and want to use rest to do so. Hence my interest in the nature and biological features of sleep.


After energy and regeneration is handled, protection from harm becomes the prevalent guide for operation. The definition of “harm” is dynamic, especially moving between the circles of concerns. At this level, it primarily refers to immediate adverse outcomes affecting the personal concerns.

This might even be described as a “lens” by which to operate, and may be less universal and more quirky. For instance, where I live, and given my personal configuration, I don’t actively worry about physical violence against me. I lived in a very populated area and have sensitive hearing, so I am harmed by the sound environment. Hence my interest in the human experience and harm reduction.

I’m not convinced this is the next set of direct circles adjacent to me, but it’s easier to explain, so I’ll go with it.

It is the people “surrounding” me, which has gotten a lot more interesting with working remotely with people from many places.

There is our family of three: Clover, Susan and I.

In this circle, I interact with their inner circles as well, tho of course my direct experience of their inner concerns is incredibly low fidelity. As I keep telling my kid, “…I’m not a mind reader.”

We live together in close quarters. Illnesses pass thru our family, we negotiate the sensory levels in our home (smell, light, sound, taste, touch), and we sympathize and empathize with each other constantly.

Interestingly, some people have their inner concerns strongly overlap with others. Siblings similar in age might experience many of the same stimuli thru childhood, or new lovers might become co-dependent; two examples to show this is an observation, not a judgement.

People who cohabit spaces tend to synchronize some of their inner circles. Many folks will know this by intuition, and others from observation.

To me, it is much less obvious about inner circles that do not synchronize or overlap between people.

Personally, I believe this to be the source of any feelings of alienation I experience: for most of my life I had been in an emotional agitated state, and did not really understand that.

So… my inner circles were not only less likely to sync with others, it would have been dangerous to do so.


This has changed for me, from the great fortune of finding supportive people, and the laser-focused drive to surround myself with them.

And a bunch of other stuff, too. :slight_smile:

I live with two people that I sync with very well, and I catch glimpses of their inner worlds that fascinate me, everyday.

Consider that!

If we completely overlapped, we would not have opportunities to appreciate each other and growth. We want appreciation and growth! Which means balancing the sync with others is a very energy efficient approach to achieve our goals.

It also means that ensuring this circle is operating well is one of the most important commitments I have, and is a major drive for me. It’s also one of the nice circles. Sure, it’s hard and takes all the energy you do not have to spare, but the people you surround yourself with help you from two directions: they are the most qualified to assist you with your inner circles, and I have not even gotten to the really big, high level circles that will essentially flatten you where you are.

While there are perspectives and philosophies that claim other circles should sustain you, from finding the inner strength to live sans society, to those that believe it is precisely the circle for society that should protect each person, here’s what I know: the people around you will affect and be affected by you, more than any others. It is prudent to keep this in mind.

Oh, haha! There’s one or more cognitive circles. :laughing:

That’s mostly where this whole narrative is operating from, apologies for the lack of meta awareness, folks! :tada:

I’ll need to think about this more, I was moving on to neighbors… :thinking: