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Want Vs. Need

I wonder how many blogs, articles, books and speeches have been written on this very subject. A lot, actually. Like a blue million. I think that at some point in our formative years we learn we don’t “need” one more set of Legos or one more Barbie doll. We need food, water, shelter and rest. Outside of those, it’s a want.

Most of these articles, while educational and well intentioned, leave me feeling shamed, condemned and poorly about myself. Yes, I know that I don’t need to eat out tonight. But hey, it’s our only form of entertainment since we can’t go on vacation or remodel our home.

Ah, there it is. Self-sabotage at its finest. I can’t do this so I’ll choose that. The lesser of two evils. Either way I lose. I suck because I shouldn’t be doing either and now I’m depressed because “How in the world did I back myself into a corner where I don’t have choices?”

Do you see that? While it’s only an example, I’ve lived this. I’ve experienced and fully understand the cascade of emotions that come with every decision. I’m caught between wanting and the judgement that ensues before I take action.

I now know how to approach this and make a decision that is devoid of self-imposed morality and come out of it empowered. This simple statement changed everything. It’s sort of an affirmation.

“It’s ok to want, Ami.” Say what? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to think? Well no. Exhale now. We are born with instincts and a couple of fears. The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other fear is learned. As babies we learn how to get the attention of our parents when we want something. When we are hungry, thirsty, cold, hot or tired.

So, it’s ok to want. But where do we go from here? OK, for example. I really want a new dishwasher. True story. Why? Well, my current one is old, noisy, and I’m convinced it will flat out quit at any given moment. Valid points, right? The question I asked myself is this; “If this dishwasher is still working, right now, can you wait until it is dead and unrepairable to buy a new one?” Of course I can. It buys me time to save for a new one and now it’s a game to see how many more washes I can get out of it. I can handle that. Reality check. It’s been two years since I decided that we HAD to have a new one. I needed a new one so badly that I drove myself to tears over it. Tears directly related to shame. I’m not worthy of new things. Why can’t I ever have nice things? All statements my brain made up to tell me that this decision is urgent and necessary. That bad things will happen if I don’t buy one RIGHT NOW.

This kind of decision making is helpful when we were being chased by a lion that wanted to eat us. It helped to prolong our lives. However, it doesn’t serve us well in this case. Sigh, so much emotional energy.

Here’s the deal. Most need versus want decisions incorporate a win or punishment judgement call. Or, I’m a good or bad person based on my purchasing decisions. These ways of thinking don’t serve us. At all.

Make the best decision for you and for your situation. It’s ok to want. It really is! Then ask yourself, when is the right time to purchase? This allows your brain to do what it is supposed to do..problem solve! Some of that problem solving comes in the form of reaching out for help. We have professionals all around us who desire to point us in the direction of our best life! They have the training and the know how to help navigate the road we are all on, especially when the journey is fraught with uncertainty. When judgement and shame are exposed to the light of day they lose their power over us. We are then free to say yes, or no, and feel confident in that decision.

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