Needs vs. Wants

Disgusted woman

Did you know that you have needs that you think are wants, and wants that you think are needs?

In modern, “civilized” countries, we are inundated with advertising slogans and media ploys to encourage us to spend more and desire more. As we have grown as a nation, we have prospered to a point where the fine line between “needs” and “wants” are so blurred that most people really can’t tell what they truly need … versus what they really want.

In countries where basic survival is an absolute – it’s easy to discern between what is a need and what is a want. To get a clearer picture of a need vs. a want, we must look at basic survival.

Wondering womanMany people think that a desire for attention, love, a listening ear, touch or laughter is just a wish, or a selfish want. Busy people have much to do! Paying bills, going to work, running errands and a fast paced life, puts our basic needs in life to the wayside – while the urgent and stressful demands of life take precedence.

Depression, exhaustion, anxiety and fear are manifesting in a wide range of diseases (dis-ease) and commercial industries are making millions from our lack of awareness. Drugs to suppress anxiety, entertainment and artificial stimuli boosts our moods … temporarily.

The desire for convenience has birthed amazing technological advances in the form of smartphones and computers that can access anyone – anywhere. The illusion is that we are more in touch with one another than ever before …  yet we are not.

Have you ever seen a group of people sitting at a restaurant table, heads bowed, and texting under the table on their cell phones, only looking up periodically to laugh or make a comment? Their relationships as well as the art of communication is being replaced with acronyms and superficial responses.

Taking our artificial and busy, stress led lives into account, is it any wonder that our needs are rarely identified or are confused with our wants? A friend recently commented, “I work so many hours in the day, I’m exhausted, I just want to take a nap … but I can’t … I have to meet this deadline.”

I myself have done this all too often, only to realize later that I actually burned an additional day or two pushing through inferior work and cleaning up messes made from my foggy, exhausted mind.

If I’d recognized my NEED for rest and responded accordingly, I would have rested an hour or two before proceeding so that I would have a clear mind while producing excellent work and actually saving time because there would have been no need to correct mistakes!

My need for sleep was overruled by my desire (want) to get the job over with. But to my dismay, the task lingered because I had my priorities wrong.

Your need for communication, a listening ear, attention, touch, laughter and rest are basic needs of survival. Feeling guilty because you are not receiving what you need to live, is not only non-productive, it can move you into an attitude of resentment and manipulative behavior expressing itself through blame and accusations.

Here’s the key — Looking to outside people to fulfill your inmost needs is NOT the solution. You cannot receive what you do not give yourself first. You and you alone are the only one that can give you the permission to find what you need when you need it. (This means a need to learn how to set healthy boundaries)

As I began to notice my priorities, needs and wants, I noticed that my state of mind was what created my ‘world’ at that moment. My world of despair, my world of loneliness, my world of sorrow or anger … it began with me first. Everything that occurred around me was brought into my life as a result of my choices and actions.

To change your world and what you are creating in your life now, take time to have a plan ready for when you aren’t in your “right mind”.  Emotional upheavals are a result of a basic need for survival not being met. Your responsibility is to see that those needs are met … and met by you first.

You cannot receive love, if you do not love yourself. You’ll not receive rest if you do not give yourself permission to rest. You’ll not laugh, if you do not choose to surround yourself with things that make you laugh – whether they are YouTube videos, funny books, comedies or funny people.

The next time you have a want … notice what you expect that want to take care of. Are you wanting a new wardrobe because you are lacking love? Are you throwing fits and screaming at your loved ones because you are exhausted and out of balance?

A want demands … a need motivates.

Shannon Parish is the Founder of Sarah’s Tent and President of Living Stones Center. She is an award winning cartoonist and graphic recorder who, after more than thirty years of ministry and as a Life Coach utilizes her artistic talent to teach and Illustrate You.


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