Wants, Needs and the Necessity of Both


Love Actually

You know that scene in Love Actually, when Mia puts Alan Rickman’s character on the spot by asking if he’ll buy her something while he’s out Christmas shopping with his wife? Then he calls and asks if she needs anything, and she says, “I don’t want what I need, I want something I want.”?

I’ve been thinking about those two words lately. Now that I’ve made a shift in my ability to receive, it’s time to figure out what I want.

“What do you want for Christmas?” That question can make my mind reel with a veritable catalogue of all the clothes, boots, dishes, CDs, trip opportunities, etc. I’d love to have…with a side order of greed guilt so strong that I reply with a “not much” kind of shrug.

If someone instead asks if I need anything, it feels kind of boring: wool socks, a new blender, that book I was planning to read for work.

Same thing happens on a greater scale outside of Christmas presents.

I find it much easier to ask for something that serves some obvious or practical “purpose”, than something that would just make me feel good. Even if it’s boring.

With the Solstice coming this week, I’ve been diving deep to evaluate what it is I really want from life, and what I’m willing to leave behind with the dark. What is it I need in order to move forward into my intentions for 2014?

Want implies a lack – the old expression “I want for nothing” means I don’t lack anything.

Need says that I can’t live without it.

Want & Need

Is one of these concepts better than the other? Is one more important?

The educators at my sons’ daycare used to correct the children whenever they said “I want”, in favour of “I would like”. Perhaps it somehow sounds more polite, less demanding to say, “I would like a cookie” rather than “I want a cookie”.

But, “I would like” insinuates there’s a condition.

I would like a cookie, when I finish my vegetables.
I would like a cookie if there are any left.
I would like a cookie if you think I’m worth it.

It never sat well with me. It always felt as if the children were being discouraged from having any desires.

In the Dance of Life, Desire is a step forward.

It’s how we improve our health, our quality of life, our environment, our relationships.

Desire is how we evolve.

Need takes our desires and lines them up with our values.

I may want a new Mustang convertible. A Prius or a Smart car would fulfill my need to make enviro-friendly the new cool.

I want a bigger house, or at least one that has bigger rooms, and real closets. What I need is to give gratitude for the fact that we have a cozy little place that keeps us all safe.

I want my business to improve, though I need the growth to happen in a way that doesn’t make me lose my ground.

I want those red high-heeled boots I saw in a Manhattan shop last year, but I need a pair of lined, waterproof boots with a sturdy sole. Then again, having those designer boots would fulfill a need to open my heart to more pleasure in my life. 😉

And if I never express my wants, how can I ever expect to get what I need?

Next time, I’ll lay down my intentions for the coming year: a public acknowledgment of what I desire for my business in 2014 – you can all hold me to it!

Now, tell me in the comments below, what do you want for Christmas? How would it fulfill your needs?

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4 thoughts on “Wants, Needs and the Necessity of Both

  1. Great post! I am all for desire sans the guilt and I know so many (women especially) struggle with this. We are really just after different emotions. You want hot new red boots because you want to feel sexy or you want a new food processor because you want cooking to feel easier. I feel like there is nothing wrong with wanting. We live in an abundant Universe and there is plenty for everyone. Our words create the energy behind our request so I can totally see where “wanting” could put us into a longing or lack mind set and I agree about the conditional “would like” too. But the word want can also behind commanding if there is a decisive intention behind it. I feel that’s when I pull in my desires even when I use the word want. Because I “decided” that I will have it.

  2. I love this sentiment Cathy. It is thought provoking as the year comes to an end as I natually go into a reflective space with thoughts forward for the new year. My desires, needs and wants every Christmas is being in the company of my precious loved ones, my children, my king and grandson♥ That is all I ever need because it is love in abundance. They make my heart sing with pure joy. So all of us together with all our beautiful imperfections and qwirks is super special to me♥ D

    • I love the idea of being together with your quirks: I teach my children that this is a time of year to celebrate the people we love, and of course, that includes the imperfections!

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