Have you ever sat down and made a list with one column listing your “Needs” in life and one column listing your “Wants” in life?
Defining a need vs. a want:
A need is for personal survival. A need is generally something that is required for a person to be able to function fully as a human being.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comprises a five-tier human needs model, which is a hierarchical level within a pyramid.
Lower down in the hierarchy the needs must be satisfied so you can attend to the needs higher up.
1. Biological and Physiological needs: air, food, water, shelter, warmth, touch, sleep, and contact are some of the basic needs we must meet to feel happy and alive. In order to survive we all need food, water, shelter, warmth, rest, and connection. A baby will die without human contact. They need to be nuzzled and hugged or they will stop growing. A newborn feels attachment the moment they are born. Inside the womb, the baby will hear and feel sounds and even smells from their mothers. All humans need food and water and shelter. A human being needs these to survive and need to have food, water, shelter, and sleep as well.
2. Safety needs. Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, and freedom from fear (aka protection from the violation of boundaries)
For security in life, we have the need for steady employment, health care, and living in secure and safe neighborhoods with law-abiding citizens. Feeling safe in life is a need for all human life. The stress level all the world is experiencing with the Corona Virus currently threatens our need for safety and security.
3. Love and belongingness needs: friendship, intimacy, affection, and love which can be fulfilled by family, friends, romantic relationships, as well as work colleagues. Human beings need to feel valued and appreciated and need to feel loved and that they belong in order to grow. Being and feeling loved makes a person more optimistic, productive, and happy.
When a human being lives in isolation and is limited to social connection anxiety and depression will set in. We are created for human connection and it is important that we know how we can connect to others, especially to our loved ones. By neglecting our need to connect we put our health at risk, and it depletes our immune system. We all need love and admiration at every stage of our life. Love will boost a person’s confidence and human morale and will act as a catalyst for their inner self.
4. Your Esteem Needs: Achievement, agency, mastery, interdependence, self-respect, and respect from others. Self-Esteem and Self-Worth will influence a person’s decisions and choices in life and will serve to motivate a human being to their full potential. When esteem needs are met, and a person is motivated in life they can achieve self-actualization. When these needs aren’t met a person begins to feel helpless, hopeless, and inferior.
Some of the benefits of getting your self-esteem and needs met, are you become more assertive in expressing your own needs and opinions. You will then be able to form secure and honest relationships and be confident in your abilities to make decisions. You will be more realistic in your expectations of yourself and in others and less controlling and critical.
5. Self-Actualization needs: Realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, and actively seeking personal growth and experiences of the achievement of self-expression. The need for a human being to continue personal growth and development in their own life is Self-Actualization. When a person reaches self-actualization in their life, they have met their full potential in life. Coming to the full realization of your own human potential and discovering your “true authentic self”, is coming to the top of Maslow’s pyramid of Self-Actualization.
A want is a desire that a person has that they may or may not be able to obtain. Most of us don’t usually define this in today’s economy accurately. A want is something that generally fulfills a need. Some of the socioeconomic wants might be a car or a phone for transportation and communication. A want may be things you’d love to have but can do without if you don’t have the money or means to buy them. Some examples are getting a manicure/pedicure, going out to dinner, buying designer clothes, and going out to movies and shows.
In a world with so much technology and busyness, it generally keeps most of us disconnected from what we really “need” in life vs. what we think we “want” in life. I for one dream about winning the lotto to not only help myself but helping others out. When I sit and dream about winning this, my mind goes to such things as paying off my family and close friends’ mortgage, and bills, buying them new cars, paying off school loans, etc. As I dream about this several things come to mind.
Does helping others make me feel wanted and needed?
My kids/stepkids are spread out across the country. We are limited to seeing each other only 1-2 times per year. We also moved to a new state where we have no friends. So, when I dream of winning that Lotto, it makes me feel like I am wanted and needed.
Do you desire to be liked by others and hope that you belong?
I grew up never feeling like we were like others. Our parents divorced and most of the families we knew growing up weren’t from broken families. We were also not considered a family that parents wanted their kids to hang around with. So, I never felt like I belonged or was wanted.
Do you find yourself sometimes buying things you really don’t need? Are you someone who shops till you drop and even have clothes in your closet with tags on them that you have never worn?
Are your “wants” someone else’s needs? When you travel is a cell phone a want or a need to help you feel safe?
What are some symptoms of wanting things you really don’t need?
I find that I want all the cable T.V. stations so I can binge-watch on T.V. to drown out my loneliness in life. Sitting in stillness is often emotionally painful. By watching T.V. I don’t have time to feel my feelings.
My car has 90,000 miles on it, and I hate to spend $1,000 or more on a 100,000 miles car tune-up soon, so I want a new car, but can’t afford one.
I want to travel more now that I’m retired to places all over the world but again it’s not in our budget to travel all the time. I would really love to have a personal chef prepare healthy nutritious meals for me every day as I hate to cook and would love a personal trainer to help me lose more weight.
Do you experience deprivation when you don’t get your “wants” met?
Deprivation is a common feeling most people have experienced in their lives. When we experience the loss of a loved one, we experience a sense of deprivation during the holiday season. When we are laid- off from a job, we are deprived of an income that we need to pay our bills and therefore have no expendable income to purchase things we “want”. We need the job to live, but we don’t need extra “stuff” to stay alive.
I created a list below as an example of some of my own needs and wants. This is a good exercise to do to see what your list looks like.