PODCAST EPISODE 15: Wanting vs. Needing
I want to give you a really powerful tool that I use and that I teach to my clients a lot. It’s very freeing and will for sure help you no matter what circumstance you’re currently in. Although I will say that this often pops up the most when I’m working with clients with their family relationships, their kids, their spouse, or even their friends.
I’ve spoken a little about this before that other people, whether that’s family, friends, or other falls under the circumstance category. What that means is basically that other people get to do whatever they want, say whatever they want, do whatever they want and all those things are neutral until I place meaning to it.
A woman came up to me at one of my speaking engagements once and she said that she has this one sibling that is just very different than the rest of the family. She and her siblings just can’t figure it out and how can she change her? What does she need to do? Basically she was asking what she could do to convince her sister that what she was doing was crazy and to follow suit after her and the rest of the family. I was like, “did you listen to anything I had said today?” No, I didn’t ask her that.
What I did ask her was, why she felt that her sister needed changing and she gave me a long list of reasons why it was frustrating that her sister chose to live differently than the rest of them. Then I asked her WHY. Why did she need her sister to do those things, what would change if her sister did decide to listen to her and made those changes. She said, “well then, I’d be happy. We’d all be happy!”
What this sweet woman didn’t yet realize is that her sister didn’t need anything to be different for her or her family to feel happy NOW. Truly. There’s so much relief in that knowledge that nothing or no one needs to be any different than they are right now for you to feel how you want to right now.
Here’s the thing, there’s a big difference between NEEDING someone to do something or change in someway because of how we think it’ll make us feel when they do what we need them to vs WANTING them to do something but ultimately being okay when they exercise their own agency and maybe choose not to do what you ask.
When we need others to behave a certain way so we can feel a certain way we’re handing over our emotional buckets again to them and waiting and expecting that they’ll take good care of them. But most human beings aren’t good at taking care of their own needs let alone taking on yours too and that’s a lot of weight to ask of someone to carry.
It’s not going to help or serve you to delegate your emotional needs over to another person, even family. You are in charge of your happiness, your emotions at all times regardless of the circumstances and the actions and words of others.
I know this is hard to swallow. We want so badly to be able to control others. If only they’d just do it my way we’d all be happier, right?
I see this with so many of my clients and their relationships with family. We want everyone to get along, to love one another, to hang out and just have this picturesque time but the problem is, is that everyone has their own versions of what that picturesque vision looks like. So when they aren’t living the way you NEED them to so you can feel better, you can bet for sure YOU aren’t living the way THEY NEED you to either.
Then there’s this tension in the air because neither of you are happy because you’re so focused on the differences, on the gap and that gets exhausting for both sides.
Think about a relationship you’re currently struggling with. Ask yourself why it’s a struggle. What are they doing that you wish they weren’t doing or that you wish they would do? Then I want you to be real with yourself and ask yourself why you need them to do that. Then go deeper again and ask yourself why again and again and again to get to the root cause of your pain.
It always boils down to a feeling. Isn’t that fascinating?
There’s always several layers here so just keep digging and digging to find the bottom. Why really is it a problem for you?
Different programs/sources will have you think of all your needs and then tell it to your family or friends or whomever it is you think you’re struggling around. While this is great to become aware of things that are important to both of you it can become dangerous and more heartbreaking because again, if they don’t comply and honor your “needs” then it puts you in a victim state and leaves you feeling negative with no way out unless that person fills that need. It doesn’t feel good ever when people don’t act the way we’d like to them to but it feels worse when you tell them what you “NEED” from them and they still don’t fill it.
It’s not a problem that they didn’t listen or didn’t change. The problem becomes more ammunition for your thoughts. Instead of wanting them to change, now you’ve told them what you need and when they don’t listen then you make it mean something very personal and hurtful to you.
See, why this is a problem?
When I tell my kids that I need them to clean their rooms so I can feel at peace in our home. One, it’s a bit of emotional manipulation and two, I’m putting myself in a iffy spot because who knows if they’re going to actually clean their rooms or not and then I’m left without peace.
We’re basically telling them that if you do this – then I’m going to feel this. Like it’s a given and a have to. It’s taking away their agency and yours too.
This is a terrible way to operate. I always teach that it’s no one else’s job to meet your needs except your own. When you take full responsibility of your emotions and your ability to choose how you’re going to think about a certain circumstance it’s freeing for both of you. You’re not in bondage to the other person and hoping they’ll do what you need and they aren’t in bondage to you by having that lingering, oh no, they’re going to be ________ if I don’t comply.
That’s not their job to meet your needs just like it’s not your job to meet theirs. The only job we have is to meet our own needs and then we can just love the other person. They don’t need to be any different, to change at all for you to just love them.
Think about friendships for a minute. A lot of times with my older teens they struggle with the friend dynamic. They need their friends to call them, to invite them, to do things for them. In fact, one client in particular struggled with her bestie. She said that they were really close for the most part. She could be herself around her. They always had a great time when they were together but she started noticing that her friend wouldn’t invite her to do things or hang out with her when she was with others. When she noticed this her mind then started diligently looking for other times when this was true. She said that her bestie would hang out whenever she was the inviting her to do something but it was never reciprocated. She did all the inviting, seeking her out, etc. and she wondered why her friend never initiated anything.
She started to question her worth in this friend’s eyes. She started thinking thoughts like, “If she really liked me she’d invite me. She’d ask me to go hang out with her sometimes. Why am I the only one inviting? Is she ashamed to have me tag along with her other friends?”
With this line of thinking she became very self-conscious and insecure in the friendship and needy. She started needing her friend to act differently so she could feel confident in their friendship. But the friend didn’t comply. The friend kept doing what she always did and it wasn’t enough anymore. The more she insisted that she needed her friend to do more the worse she felt because her friend wasn’t doing what she thought she needed. She was hading over her emotional bucket to this friend, really without her friend even knowing and feeling hurt again and again. She was suffering because she needed her friend to be different so she could feel better.
When we started digging deeper and having her think about her needs, what she did indeed need – we started thinking about way that SHE herself could fill those needs. It’s never anyone else’s job to fill our needs. That’s our job. This isn’t to say that she didn’t WANT her friend to invite her more, to call her, to initiate. That’d be great if she did. It’s only a problem when she was hanging her emotional wellness on those needs and assigning this friend to fill it for her.
So wanting then. We can want others to do things for us. We can make requests of others but when we do we need to make sure that if it’s a need that we’ll figure out a way to fill that need for ourselves no matter what.
This releases you from being at the whim of others and it releases them from needing to be different than they are so you can feel better.
Remember, feelings come from your thoughts which resides only in your power. You don’t need anything to be different for you to feel how you want to feel now. So much freedom in this.
Sometimes we’re hurt because someone that we love and care deeply about doesn’t respond the way we hoped they would. The way they act, the things they say are different than the ideal picture in our minds and we create hurt for ourselves while thinking that really, it’s them. But it’s not. It’s because you’re needing them to be a certain way, live a certain way, say things or do things a certain way so you can feel a certain way. Notice when you do this. You’re needing something from someone else and it’s a recipe for disaster. Instead when you notice yourself doing this, stop or pause and ask yourself why. Why this is a problem and why you’re needing this from them. Then ask yourself how you can give this to yourself. How can you meet your own needs without needing them to be any different?
When you get to this space you can then make requests of this person. You can ask them specifically for whatever it is you’d like but by finding a solution to meeting your own needs first, if they choose not to comply with your request, it doesn’t really matter because you’re going to be okay no matter what.
Wanting and Needing are so very different. When I want something I’m willing to work for it because of how I believe I’ll feel when I have it.
When I want to have a better relationship with my mother. I feel excited, motivated, and full of love towards her. I’m excited to reach out, to call, to connect. Because I’m full of love for her I’m more likely to be open and compassionate. When something sounds funny or like it could be taken the wrong way I’m more likely to just give her the benefit of the doubt instead of hyper focusing on those comments, looks, gestures, or hidden meanings.
But if I changed that to NEEDING, to needing her to connect more, to be closer, to being different so I can feel better it creates a sense of scarcity, fear, and worry that it might not happen and then it’s a huge problem. I create the problem by needing her to be different.
I work with a lot of clients that have family members that have left the church. This is a huge problem for them because they’re worried for what that means for their family now. What will it look like in the eternities? How can they share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about their faith when their family members don’t believe it anymore?
Thinking thoughts like these they start showing up different and needy around them. They need them to agree with them about their faith so they can feel better, feel secure, feel confident. Which only creates more of a barrier and contention in the relationship because chances are they also need YOU to agree with them so they can feel the same way.
Think about the difference here between WANTING them to go to church – Why do you WANT them to go to church? Why does it matter to YOU specifically?
Because it’s a source of happiness and joy for you and you believe it would bring happiness and joy to them too. Because of the beliefs you hold about eternal families and now worry that their choices will hinder that. Because if they did go to church and did believe that you’d feel happy, joyous, secure, confident? Really think about why.
Can you WANT them to go to church for these reasons but know that you can feel happy, joyous, secure, and still confident right now without them changing anything? Can you meet your own needs NOW? Are you willing to do the work to meet those needs?
When you WANT something you’re willing to work for it. You’re willing to ask yourself how can you feel confident NOW despite their actions. Maybe you find thoughts and comfort in knowing that “God will make everything work for your good” or confidence in the thought, “I don’t need to know why right now. This is their journey.”
What would that look like if you did feel confident? How would it change the relationship? You’d show up differently for one. You’re not worried or needy but loving and confident. You’re there for them if and when they want to talk.
Needing stems from fear, from scarcity and lack.
But one of my favorite Scriptures tells us that, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
You don’t have to fear or worry. It will work out for them and for you. You have the power and ability to trust in Him and then just love, love, love your family. It’s okay. It’s not a problem. This is their journey. So you can continue to want but it’s wanting without needing them to be different so you can feel better.
It’s okay for others to make their own choices, to live their own lives and for us to cultivate strong, meaningful relationships with them, to want things but not need them to feel how we want to feel.
I don’t want to put my emotional needs in the hands of anyone else. It’s one of our greatest gifts from Heavenly Father, our ability to act and use our agency to choose how we want to think, feel, act, and create. We’re not dependent upon other people to create the life we want to live, regardless of our circumstances.
This isn’t to say that I don’t want people to act a certain way. If it’s something that I value and would like to create then I can make that request of them without any reservations or emotions tied to their actions.
I want my kids to clean their rooms. They don’t always want the same. I ask that of them. I make requests and because they’re learning right now they may or may not choose to listen and clean. But by wanting/requesting and not demanding or needing its very clean emotionally. I’m not hurt, frustrated, or tying my emotions to their actions. I can WANT them to clean without NEEDING them to clean.
Needing is desperately needing the current circumstance to change because it’s uncomfortable, it’s painful, it’s negative in my view and I need something, someone to change so I can find relief, so I can feel better, so I can escape this pain.
Whereas wanting is aiming for something because it’ll help up grow and evolve but being okay with the current circumstances. You’re not in a rush to change or fix anything. There isn’t any scarcity surrounding it.
Think about when you’re about to have company over and it’s like, kick it into high gear and clean quick. Are you needing the house clean and everyone to work on double time so you can feel something? Feel confident, secure, peaceful, or proud even when the guests come?
Or can you WANT the house clean because you love it when everything is in order but you’re going to be okay no matter what? You can still feel confident, secure, peaceful, and still proud even if company comes over and the house still has dishes in the sink, crumbs on the floor, and shoes left on the stairs?
It’s okay to want. I want you to want lots of things but not because you think you’ll feel differently when you have them. You can feel how you want to feel NOW without needing anything to be changed or different.
It’s also okay to need. We ALL have needs. We all have emotional needs. It’s okay to explore and to be curious about what those needs are for you. You might want to spend some time thinking and pondering about this. Think about situations or examples of times that you were uncomfortable or maybe a relationship you struggle with. What is the problem? Find your needs. Write them down. Then for each one figure out a way to meet that need yourself.
There’s so much peace with doing this. It allows you to just love everyone exactly as they are without clouding it or draining any of your energy by needing them to be different. When you think and believe the thought that they should be different or that something needs to be changed you’re missing out on just loving them.
So okay, try this work at home for your own life. First just be super open and curious about what your needs are. Start with the relationships that are the most challenging and ask yourself why. Why is it a problem for you? Then ask yourself why again. Why? Why? Why? Get to the root cause. It’s going to be that something, some needs of yours aren’t being met. Find what those are and write it all down. It’s going to boil down to a feeling.
You need them to act a certain way so that you can feel a certain way. And that really is the best news because feelings don’t come from others actions. Feelings come from your thoughts which, thankfully you have sole control over.
Think about how differently those relationships would be if you took your NEEDING out of them? If you could just show up and love on them without needing anything to change or having expectations of them showing up in a certain way. It’s very liberating.
Now you can go back through your list and see where you’d like to make requests. What is important to you that you would like to vocally make a request of some people? But no matter what your needs are taken care of. You are taken care of. So if they adhere to the request, fabulous! All the better. But if they don’t, it’s okay. You’re going to love them anyway and more especially, you’re going to love you anyway.
Okay, have a spectacular week. I’ll talk to you next week!