What have you needed recently that you haven’t gotten?
Is it possible that what you’re calling a need, is actually a want?
Are you demanding that someone fulfills this want of yours by calling it a need?
Confusing, I know.
Yet we confuse our needs and wants ALL THE TIME.
And let’s be honest, what irritates you the most:
Not having a want met or not having a need met?
A need, right?
Why is that?
Well, for starters, no matter how much you want something, you can always soothe your temptation to have it by remembering that it’s just a want.
On the other hand, if you think something is a need, then you MUST have it. Like yesterday. Or the day before. Or soon, like REALLY soon. And your impatience for not having it tends to grow.
Even if you have a legitimate reason why you don’t have a need now, like for example if you’re saving money to purchase that need, you won’t be at peace until you have fulfilled that need.
Except that mayyyyyybe you aren’t going to be at peace even after that need is fulfilled. Why? Because you’ll already have another need that you need, if that makes sense.
When it comes to the need-get-need-get-need-get cycle…. we have to realize that our “need to need” won’t go away (even monks and nuns have needs). One day you will need a new pair of socks, next month you may need to replace an appliance that breaks down, you may need to buy a new car next year, and ten years from now, you’ll need new socks. It’s a cycle.
How Can We Manage Our Needs?
So knowing that our needs will be with us till the day we die, we have to do 4 main things in order to be in control of our needs rather than have our needs control us.
We need to:
1) Learn what a need really is. (You think you know what it is, but there’s more to learn).
2) Be able to truly distinguish a need from a want and be mature enough to give our needs a bit more priority.
3) If you have to rely on someone else to fulfill your needs, you must communicate effectively. Period. At the same time, you have to remember that you can only control what you can control and that you should let them control what they truly do need to control.
4) Have a better attitude about not always being able to get our needs met right away.
5) Become more willing to provide ourselves with our needs instead of expecting somebody else to fulfill them for us.
So, What Is A Need?
Answering this question can get tricky because immediately, we can see that if you were to compare notes between your needs and someone else’s needs, that they would be different. (The same applies for wants since each person has their own set of wants).
So in order to try to get as much relativity out of this equation as possible, let me introduce (or most likely re-introduce) you to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Take a look at it for a second:
Courtesy of www.timvandevall.com
I don’t know about you, but THE moment I saw this pyramid many, many years ago, I feel in LOVE with it. Why? Because I thought to myself, “FINALLY! Someone actually gets what I need!”
The premise of this pyramid is that we all have needs that go from basic needs, such as those that start at the bottom of the pyramid… to more elaborate needs the higher up in the pyramid we go.
This diagram essentially shows that at the base of the pyramid are our very basic needs and that these needs need to be met before we can logically aspire to have the needs in the higher tiers met. (NOTE: We all need these things listed in the physiological category in our life except for sex. For example, kids don’t need it. And adults can choose not to have it and they would still be okay).
For example, when babies are born, they need to be able to breathe well, eat well and hydrate well (their breastmilk or formula is both their food and their water), sleep a lot (at least they should…not that they always do), be okay in and at peace with their environment and they have to pee and poo. And even as adults, we need to be able to have and do these things, for the most part.
But after the basic physiological needs are taken care of, we need safety, then to feel a sense of love and belonging, then esteem, then self-actualization.
The Caveat Behind Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
If you’ve been on this planet for a while, however, you KNOW that there is practically never a moment in your life when every single one of these needs are met all at once.
Would be lovely… glorious even…. but that isn’t how life rolls.
At any given time, there may be one or a handful of things in each category/tier that may be “off.” For example, you can have all of your physiological needs met, but then all of a sudden, you’re laid off, so there goes your feeling of safety.
Or you may have your physiological and safety needs down pat, but you’re not getting along well with your in-laws, or your own family, so your sense of love and belonging isn’t as strong as it could be.
So what this boils down to is that we will always have needs that haven’t been met… perhaps ever, not right now, not lately or not yet.
You Have WAY More Than You Ever Thought
Therefore, while it’s good to know what you NEED, you also have to focus on abundance instead of lack.
For example, instead of fixating on what we don’t have… let’s fixate for a moment on what we do have.
Take at look at even the base of the pyramid…. even many of the poorest people living in the United States right now are richer than many people in the world who live off of less than $2.00 a day. And it’s not the minority of the world who’s in this predicament. It’s 2 billion people. … almost 1/3 of the world. Add to that that 17,000 children on our planet died yesterday, will die today and will die tomorrow of dire starvation…. and all of a sudden your needs and wants are pale in comparison, right.
As sad as it is, the fact that you are living off of more than $2.00 a day and are alive reading this makes you really blessed. It’s even more mind-boggling to know that most of you reading this who have a job and a home are richer than many kings and pharos were. Not necessarily because of the job and the home but because you have among many things, running water, electricity, the experience of having flown on an airplane and a computer that allows you to connect to the world literally right at your fingertips.
Can you believe that?
But wait, there’s more!
If you also live in the United States or in a country that values people’s freedom… isn’t that worth a ton as well? Think about it! How valuable is freedom that when people “behave badly” in our world they’re deprived of it. Freedom is one of the greatest treasures… and for the most part, it’s something that most of us have day in and day out.
WHAT A PRIVILEGE!
The fact that you can express yourself and be you is something that people have lost their lives over, but that can allow you to fully show up in your life.
So you see?
You have it made!
Well, pretty much.
Yeah, there may be that thing you really need or think you need, but other than that, be appreciative of the blessings that are so much part of your every day life that you don’t even notice. Even the hope or the certainty that one day you’ll have that need that you so much aspire to is something to be happy about. It’s one more reason to live.
Keep The Momentum Of The Glass Being Way More Full Than You Expected Going
If you’re lucky to feel that you have everything or most of what you need, continue to cultivate that feeling by focusing on the “little” things… that if you look at them long enough, you’ll notice that they’re big things.
For instance… for a couple of months now, I have been staring at one pair of curtains that I have in my home and just admiring them. They’re pretty, but more than that, they cover one of the biggest windows in my home. A home, which I happen to love. And I simply need to take a look at those windows to remind myself of how blessed I feel to have this home, where I live happily with my loved ones. It’s such a simple thing to focus on… but even writing about it makes me teary-eyed.
And is that curtain a need? Not necessarily, but it is part of the house, it makes me feel more secure and it’s representative of the home that I’ve been able to make of this house.
A NEW Model For Understanding Your Needs
Now that you understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and that you can use that pyramid almost as a mirror that can tell you that you may be feeling a little off or totally in your groove based on how many needs you’re blessed to have checked off at any given moment, I want to introduce to you a different model for understanding your needs.
According to Ayurveda, which is a 5,000-year-old natural healing system based off of India, you have four basic needs.
Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine are rooted in Ayurveda ,which also influenced Greek medicine.
The reason why it’s important to consider this model for understanding your needs is because aside from being a system that treats illnesses, it’s also a science. “Ayur” means life and “veda” means science or knowledge. It’s essentially a body of wisdom that helps people realize their human potential while staying vital. It provides knowledge on diet, routines, the best use of our senses and behavior. It’s underlying premise is that health is the integration of our environment, body, mind and spirit.
Your 4 Ayurvedic needs are:
- Material comforts: Otherwise known as Artha
- Love and connection: known as Kama
- Sense of purpose: which you’ve probably heard as it being referred to as Dharma
- And spiritual awakening or liberation: known as Moksha
Right off the bat, you can see that this model is quite similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Although it doesn’t break down our needs in as much detail, I do like how it clarifies what the ultimate desire really is…. and that is to fulfill your dharma/purpose and have a spiritual awakening.
It’s important to note that when you are upset, it’s because you feel that one of these needs is either missing or weak in your life.
And when you sense that something is off, you feel uncomfortable.
And when you feel uncomfortable… you don’t relate well to others. It’s possible that you even blame them for your discomfort thinking that the anguish that you’re feeling was somehow created by them.
You can see how people influence your issues in these examples:
If you know that someone doesn’t believe in your career choices and is intervening with your Dharma, you feel it because they don’t let you be who you know deep down you’re meant to be.
When someone treats you poorly, they’re messing with your kama.
Blaming other people isn’t what’s most useful, though.
Whenever you feel sad, mad, anxious, uneasy, etc., you should try to get to the root of the issue by asking yourself:
“What happened, who said, or who did something that is making me feel out of balance?”
You’ll usually find that it’s something someone else said about you, how they reacted regarding something about you, or simply your own limiting beliefs.
When people mess with what you hold dear, you are better able to see what you really want, what you need, what you stand for and what you’re unwilling to give up.
People confronting you or questioning you is like bowling.
They throw the ball towards your needs, which are your own particular convictions in life.
It’s YOUR job to be strong about them.
It’s not your job to control the direction in which they throw the ball.
By standing your ground, you are better able to gain control.
What Can You Do When Someone Pushes Your Pins?
You can acknowledge that something/someone “pushed” you and now you’re a bit wobbly, so to speak through your feelings of sadness, anger, disappointment, anxiety and sorrow
When you feel that you’re wobbly you can ask yourself…
- Which Pin or Ayurvedic need did they just take a blow on?
- What component of this needs is more affected? Meaning if they hit the love and connection pin, for example, what exactly is making me feel unloved?
- No matter what the blow was like use the “yeah, but” strategy. It goes like this: If your main sorrow is
“My family doesn’t care about this side hustle that I’m doing, ” Answer yourself like this: “Yeah, but I have the support of my husband and I believe in the positive impact that I’m having on others that do care.”
In other words, what you want to do is liberate yourself and the person or circumstance that upset you from upsetting you.
By focusing on that which you can control. By having better thoughts, by taking better actions that support yourself, or by facing the circumstance or person head on so that whatever is bothering you goes away.
For example, if you’re married and your spouse has stopped being a loving contributor to your life for years and on the contrary, has been a pest for quite some time and is robbing you of your peace for years now and doesn’t want to seek outside help, you have to address him/her head on and perhaps give them an ultimatum, and if she/he doesn’t give you the love and connection that you need, you’re outta there. In this case, a simple, “He treats me poorly. Yeah, but he really loves me,” doesn’t cut it.
How can you tell?
Because the goal is to feel better…. to have more peace and love than you have indifference and abuse in your life.
Life is too short to be in a place or with someone who rains on your parade every day.
You don’t need that! And they certainly don’t need to be doing that to you, so why the hell are they?
Stand up for yourself and your needs… as long as they’re needs of respectful love, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to do something about them.
What’s The Difference Between A Need And A Want?
After reviewing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the 4 Ayurvedic needs, it’s clear that the items listed on both of these models are our needs.
However, as you’ve probably figured out as we were going through them, it’s still not easy to just take a list of these needs and give them to people (or for people to give them to you) and have them be happy, forever, all day, every day.
Because there are variables that influence what action will give someone the most joy.
So, the only way to know is to communicate.
A need may be a need, it’s how we want it that makes the difference in they joy we get out of it… and it whether it crosses the line between a need or a want.
Why we need something can also reveal that what we say is a need is actually a want.
For example, we all need love.
However, how someone is going to get you to feel love is different from how someone is going to get me to feel love.
You may want roses every holiday because it’s y our favorite thing to get. I may want my husband to help me with the chores every day because their company makes the tasks go by faster. If both of us appreciate getting roses or getting help around the house because it boosts our levels of happiness they may be our needs. (After all, there are five love languages).
If, however, you want roses every holiday to show them off on Instagram or I want my husband to help me with the chores because I’m a feminist who thinks that men should do an equal amount of chores or more chores than women do for a change… then you and I aren’t getting a NEED fulfilled… we’re actually getting a want. The intention or why behind getting what we say we need can reveal that it’s really a want.
One big clue to know whether something is a a want is to determine whether you are requesting what you’re requesting because you want to inflate your heart or to inflate your ego.
If it’s for your heart, you experiencing it for the joy that it gives you will be enough.
If it’s to inflate your ego, the experience won’t be enough. You’ll want to brag about it, whine about it, ask more than you got with it, get it because deep down you feel worthless, get it because deep down you feel entitled, etc. You’ll have ulterior motives for getting it.
How Can You Maximize The Likelihood of Getting Your Need (Or Want) Met? One Word: Communication.
As we’ve learned in prior posts, expressing what you want clearly is the best way to increase the likelihood of getting your need met.
You have to communicate expectation, frequency, level of importance, and ideal time to have this expectation fulfilled.
How Can You Effectively Communicate Your Needs
These are the questions you should ask yourself and that most importantly, that you should communicate with others so that they get to know you, what your needs are and how to meet them:
- What is it that you need?
- How often do you expect this need to be given to you?
- In the grand scheme of things, how happy will fulfilling this expectation of yours make you feel in comparison to other expectations?
- When is the best time to give you this need?
- Why do you need this?
For example, you may love Cold Stone Creamery (which I do) and the Wendy’s Ice Cream Frosties.
Let’s say it’s your birthday. How will people know what ice cream to get you that day?
Answer: It depends on what you clearly communicated to them prior to your birthday.
But will you have time to specify each of these 5 questions for every want and need you’ve ever had?
Nope. Not happening.
What does this mean?
You will be disillusioned.
There will be needs you wont get.
Give Them a Break!
It is unrealistic to expect people to know what your wants are and what your needs are 100% of the time.
Let’s face it, YOU don’t even know what you want or need much of the time.
You REALLY have to be in tune with yourself to know what you want and you REALLY have to be in tune with others to share what you want.
And even if you did have the time to share it all… life is an exchange, not a laundry list for someone else to fulfill for you.
“The problem with our needs is that we confuse them with our wants and then we expect others to fulfill our need-want regardless.”
How Can We Have A Better Attitude About Not Getting Our Needs Met, Right Away?
The answer is mature patience.
The thing about patience is that it’s one of those things that you can’t fake because the more you fake it, the more it comes back to bite you.
Think about a time when you were pretending to be patient.
What was REALLY going on inside of you?
- Your expectations were growing like huge air balloons impossible to hide.
- Your impatience for not having your expectations met was rotting your brain.
- You wanted to tell someone how pissed off you were that what you’ve been waiting for soooo long wasn’t yours yet.
- You basically were torturing yourself repeating over and over and over in your mind how unworthy you thought you are, how undeserving and unlovable you were.
- You felt soooo bad about all of these things that you wanted to give up.
- You would have rather ended up with NOTHING than wait for that which you wanted.
Have Faith That Someone Can Help You
There are times in life when your greatest need wont be given to you by those who you hold dear and near to your heart.
During those times, aside from having patience you have to have faith that either you can provide that which you need for yourself or that someone can help you.
If you need to get a job, for instance, other people will be part of the process. They will give you information, interview you, hire you, train you, welcome you with open arms, etc.
In order to fulfill your need, you gotta be positive, but you also need to do something about it. Enough said, right?
It comes back to communication. You have to revisit the relationship.
- Is it a relationship that you can expect something from?
- Is there an obligation for them to help you?
- Have you been able to get something in the past?
Relationships are also a matter of give and take.
Follow Your Desire To Help Others, But Also To Help Yourself
We often go from one extreme to the other.
“We neglect our needs when we want to be giving to others.
We neglect our wants by focusing too much on what other people need.”
And then there’s the opposite end of the generosity spectrum:
“We focus so much on our needs that we can care less about what other people want.
And we want what we want so much that we aren’t interested in meeting other people’s needs.”
The point is, you have to find the right balance to give and receive.
You can’t be so selfish that you neglect everyone else’s needs, nor can you be so giving that you let others be so selfish that you end up with nothing in the end.
These are like truth-twisters, which tongue-twisters about truth.
How Can We Be More Willing To Provide Ourselves With Our Needs Instead of Expecting Somebody Else To Fulfill Them For Us?
By sheer conviction and determination.
We have to wake up and smell reality. It doesn’t matter if it’s hard for us.
Here are some things we need to keep in mind in order to increase our chances of fulfilling our own needs:
- Many of us, especially women, unfortunately, have a delusional dream that someone out there will be our prince charming that rescues us from whatever mess we find ourselves in. They won’t. We have to watch our every step so that we do get into a mess that we can get out of it, take ownership and learn from the circumstance.
- We have to be go-getters, but we have to use our intuition.We have to take calculated risks.
- We have to be alert enough to know when we’re chasing after the wrong thing… or the wrong person.
We know when we want to say that something was a coincidence or that “fate” brought you to a certain situation that you know didn’t come together by magic, but rather that you’re forcing. And we know that when we’re compromising ourselves and we’re not listening to our intuition, that if we pursue something that started poorly or that feels forced it won’t work. It just won’t.
If you grab onto something like a greedy kid… no matter how much of a treasure you think that thing is… it will be taken away from you.”
- When we learn the effort required in fulfilling our needs we can better appreciate someone who out of love, fulfills our needs for us.
- Be proud of the goals that you achieve for yourself.
- Approach life and your needs like a Bucket List. Part of what makes Bucket Lists fun is that they’re something that you decide will make you happy, you work toward those goals, you take time to both prepare for your goals, you enjoy the day you finally do them and you feel a sense of pride checking off the items of your list.
Life is a Big Bucket List. Be grateful for the opportunity to be alive to fulfill your needs and the needs of those you love.
Now It’s Your Turn
What did you learn in this post that struck a chord with you?
How do you best ensure that your needs are met?
Look forward to reading your comment below.
The Want/ Need Series
If you liked this post, feel free to visit the others in the series designed to teach you how to navigate the difficult waters of assuming responsibility for what you want, what you need and how to communicate those wants and needs.