In the book non-violent communication, the author talks about wants vs needs and clarifying what they are with the individual or group you are communicating with. I found this book very important in my transition from military to civilian life. Here is a video that explains their language of needs. https://youtu.be/XbgxFgAN7_w
Even though I loved this book and perspective, through my own practice and self-awareness I have adopted a more minimalist style of thinking. I have focused less on expecting others to do things and provide things for me that I can do myself. Some may look at this as selfish but if you spend your entire life asking others to do things for you and providing things that you need then you will never be able to fulfill someone else’s needs because you're always asking them to do something instead of asking them what can I do for you. Now, what is really selfish there. I love the statement, “if you want to change your life, change your perspective.” Because with this statement, it makes it so simple, just look at it from a different angle.
You may be thinking what does this have to do with anything, and that is probably a relevant thought, stay with me.
So how do we determine what a need and want are? Just look at how you make a statement to someone. When you have a hangover the first thing you might say is “ man, I need an aspirin.” You truly do need that aspirin, what you don’t need is another drink. If that is the case then we never should say the statement “I need a drink” because that is a lie, we want a drink. Take this outlook on love and your relationship. When you break up with someone you truly loved, things come to mind like, “I will never love again” or you call the ex “ I need you to love me”. What's important about those two thoughts is they are both a want. The first one means that you never really needed love because you are willing to never do it again. The second, it is right in the statement, but again is a want. You may argue with this however, the fact is you want their love and you would be a perfectly normal functioning human and your body would not die in the absence of their love.
Another way to determine what our wants and needs are is to ask yourself before you ask someone to do something or before you buy something. Is this necessary for my existence and health or protection. If it's not then it will automatically fall under the want. Now don’t go trying to justify your need for coffee, because there are millions of people out there that survive just fine without it. Apply that thought as well.
If we know the difference between a want and a need than we can expect less of the person we are arguing with because we know that we don't actually need something from them. (If you need a refresher just go reread last week's blog on expectations.) So if we do get upset and it's because of a want then we are no different than a 5-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store over a piece of candy mom won’t let him/her have.
So next time you communicate with someone, know what your needs and wants are before you expect someone just to give that to you. Ask politely, and if they say no, or they can’t, don’t allow your emotion to take over it's not anyone else's job to fulfill your wants or your needs. These are your responsibility and yours alone.
Give love without expectation of love in return and you will receive all the love you have ever dreamt about having in your life.