Needing and Wanting

It’s easy to tell ourselves that we need things that we don’t. We do this all the time, especially when it comes to food. “I need something sweet.” “I need something crunchy.” “I need a drink.” How often do we take a step back, though, and ask ourselves if you really “need” whatever it is we have in mind? What happens if we don’t get it? The truth is that we don’t usually actually “need” these things. We “want” them, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s totally fine to want something because of how it tastes or how it makes us feel. However, by saying that we need it, we’re telling ourselves that we’re not in control. By saying that we need it, we’re giving whatever it is that we have in mind power over us. On the other hand, when we say that we want something, we are putting ourselves in control. When we say that we want something, we give ourselves the power. When we say that we want something, we acknowledge that it’s not necessary. When we say that we want something, we acknowledge the opportunity to say “no”. Saying “no” doesn’t mean we have to feel deprived, restricted, or like we’re missing out. Saying “no” to one thing simply means we’re saying “yes” to something else. We’re saying “yes” to a promise we’ve made to ourselves. We’re saying “yes” to taking one step closer to our long-term goals. We’re saying “yes” to looking and feeling better than we did yesterday. Speaking of saying “yes”, on those occasions when we do say “yes” to things that we want, it’s not because we lost control or felt powerless. It’s because we deliberately, mindfully, chose to eat something for pleasure, to enhance our current experience, try something new, or celebrate a special occasion. The hard part is figuring out how often to say “yes” and to say “no”. Neither of the two answers are right or wrong, and some of us will need to say “yes” or “no” more frequently than others. How frequently you choose to say “yes” and “no” is up to you and your circumstances, but it’s important to remember that whatever you are saying is completely up to you. You are in control. You won’t always feel you made the right choice. Sometimes you’ll back and feel like you should have said “yes”. Other times you’ll back and feel like you should have said “no”. That’s okay, this takes practice, this isn’t a test. This is something for you and you alone to figure out. The first step is acknowledging, accepting, and embracing responsibility. The first step is understanding that you are in control. What are you telling yourself that you need? Why are you telling yourself that you need it? What happens if you reframe that need to a want? What happens if you say “no” to that want, and what are you saying “yes” to instead? What happens if you say “yes” to that want, and what are you saying “no” to instead? Once you start to notice what you’re telling yourself that you need, try reframing those things as wants, free from judgement. It’s okay to want something that you don’t need. It’s even okay to say “yes” to those things. That doesn’t mean you’re weak or a failure. It just means that you’re human; you have taste buds; you feel stress. You’re conditioned to associate certain foods with certain situations. It’s okay. Just pay attention to how you frame your feelings. Soon enough you shape your worldview such that food no longer has its power over you. From there, you can start to assess how your wants align with your long term goals, and how often you might say “yes” or “no”. This will take time. This will take practice. This will take effort. It will be worth it, though. You’re worth it.
You’ve got this.
Chris Robinson

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