To Boldly Want

How often have you been told “I want doesn’t get”?

Today I want to talk about wanting and needing. And the importance of saying and of knowing, “I want“.

That opening phrase, is problematic because it already hints at the fact that we should feel ashamed of wanting and even more so of expressing it.

So what do many of us do? Instead of wanting we learn to “need“ instead. We can justify better having what we want if we need it.

I was journalling this morning about my ongoing battle with needing to rest and noticing and recognising how I get in my own way, because of the negative feelings I have around stopping and non-doing. I’m working a lot on developing a deeper graciousness towards those who help me and kindness and grace towards myself. I’m doing moderately well, it’s probably one of the biggest pieces of personal work I’ve done for decades so I slip back often.

Excerpt from my journal:

I can’t “make myself“ relax, I can only observe and recognise that it’s a battle to let myself rest. It seems related to the part of me that hates being dependent. I need to be gentle and kind to the me that needs to rest.

And so what if I didn’t or couldn’t justify a need but it was just a desire??

Am I allowed to let go of needing, just forget about needing, go boldly, straight for what I desire?

How would it be to desire help? To not justify it as a need but to just follow my deepest feelings, the one underneath a shame? What if I said, ‘sod it, just look after me while I do virtually nothing?’ Would that be okay?

I’m wondering about the concept of “needing“. Are we using it to justify actions? To bypass shame? Do we say, “I need a break“ instead of, “I want to stop now“? or “I’ve lost interest for now“? Is needing help somehow easier to say than wanting it?

“Need“ seems to justify anything from drinking a glass of water to spending money.

Do we say, “I need a break“ instead of, “I want to stop now“?

How about if we confront ourselves more directly and honestly? “I want to drink, I want to spend money, I want to rest… “ (yes, really, really I do, but I’m too ashamed, guilty, busy, to be bold about it).

No wonder “neediness“ is disliked. It is indirect and contains unspoken complexity; it invites anyone listening into a complicity of needing to justify actions that one feels ashamed of.

‘Wantiness’, wanting, is an untangled neediness and joyously direct, like an unobstructed breath!

Wanting is no guarantee of getting, it is, however, a prerequisite.

Once we take the neediness out of the situation and return to the want, then we can look at the shame head on and decide whether this is an appropriate obstruction or to be disregarded. To elaborate, we may want to buy something we can’t afford or do you something harmful to health, and the shame maybe a healthy notification from our psyche that this want is in conflict with other wants (such as staying out of debt or staying healthy). On the other hand the shame may be inappropriate, archaic and unhelpful, such as my own shame and fears about being lazy.

Today’s exercise:

Get your journal, notebook or even the back of an envelope.

Write in big bold letters at the top, ‘I WANT’.

Underneath, write at least three statements, (but you can keep going until you run out), “I want…, I want…, I want…”

Let’s get ourselves used to saying, “I want”. Let’s say this forbidden and shameful sentence so many times that we purge the unhelpful belief that ‘I want doesn’t get’.

How often have you been told “I want doesn’t get”?

Yet as I’ve said many times to my clients, ‘but how on earth would you get it if you don’t know and say that you want it?’

While wanting is no guarantee of getting, it is pretty much a prerequisite! We won’t get everything we want but knowing what we want and wanting it helps us work with competing wants (the chocolate and the jeans zipping up) and unobtainable wants which we need to grieve and come to terms with over time.

Wanting, is an untangled neediness and joyously direct!

By reframing my actions with ‘I want’ today I’ve already discovered a couple of surprising things. One was that I actually WANT to get my tax return done (I want it done and the dining table clear once more) and also that I want to take a bit longer over my green tea right now even though the clock is ticking. I want to just sit. That’s what I want. I’ve no idea about and no interest in whether I need to or not!

Journalling in Bed:
I wanted to at the start of my day.



One comment on “To Boldly Want

  1. Thank you for your good thoughts. Earlier when I was sorting out a difficult situation in my life I journaled a lot. A productive path was looking at Needs | Wants | Fears

    I discovered that much of what I feared and was spending lots of energy to prevent bad already happened and that many things I “thought” I needed were actually wants. As an adult I Need food, water, air, as an older adult I’ve added shelter to the list. Everything else is pretty much a Want and is negotiable in my framework. Fairly stoic but it works for me.

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