Most of us want more out of life and many of us sense that there is more—or there could be more—to life than just having another same old good time or merely trying to get through another day. And, if there really is more to life, what do you need to do to find out what that is? What do you need to do to sort out your problems? Or, what do you
need for your life to become more fulfilling even when you don’t have any problems? Stephen and Lynda Kane examine the possibilities...
I need to leave you, I think . . .
Julie thought she needed to go back to her husband, Peter. She’d left him a week earlier, having finally accepted that they were incompatible and it just couldn't work. Now he was calling her all the time and begging her to come home. "I need you," he kept saying...
She was a nervous wreck, wracked with guilt for destroying his life. After all, he hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, they were still the best of friends. It’s just that that’s all they were—like a brother and sister who happened to have three kids. And she was depriving him of them too...
However, when Julie asked my advice, I said, "He doesn't need you particularly. He needs some space in his life so there's room for it to change for the better. And that feels uncomfortable so he doesn’t like it—and you feel responsible for how he feels..."
That was then. Now is six months later. The air is blue—Julie is not a happy bunny. She's waving her arms in the air, "That bastard! How dare he say that!" The gist of her fury is that Peter has called to thank her for having had the strength to leave him—because if
she hadn’t, he would never have met someone with whom he was much more compatible—the woman of his dreams, as it were. He was genuinely grateful.
Julie is outraged. To think, she might actually have gone back to him because he'd said he needed her and now the ***** is saying it would
have been the worst thing she could possibly have done! It seems, from what Julie is expressing, that Peter should, eventually, have recovered from the pain of her leaving him—but not so much as to actually be grateful to her for doing it. Nor by meeting the "perfect woman." At least, not so soon...
Julie thought she needed to leave, but Peter’s stress was almost enough for her to change her mind. Peter thought he needed her but now he’s realised he didn’t after all—maybe because he’s found someone he needs more. Now, Julie isn’t sure what or whom she needs—but she’s sure it isn’t Peter...
What Do You Really Need?
Enough of Julie and Peter's problems. How about the rest of us? We each are expressing our sense of need all the time—usually without even thinking about it. We are driven by our apparent needs and they constantly, automatically, influence our thoughts, feelings, words and actions: "I can’t live without you" — "I really need to do this" — "I must/must not eat this food" — "I need my space/ lover/ job/ jewelry/ spiritual teacher/ purple Porsche with electronic,
thermostatically-controlled, anti-skid seats" ...
What a lot of "needs"! Not to mention all the others with which we fill our days and nights: "I need to go to work" — "I've got to go to the gym tonight" — "I have to see my mum"... We have an endless "list" of actions or things that must
be done or acquired and we rarely, if ever, think to question them. But how do you know, for sure, if these are the things you really need?
What is a "need," anyway? According to my dictionary, to "need" is, "to require (something) because it's essential or very important rather
than just desirable"...
So, sadly, desire does not, in itself, make something essential or even very important. So much for the Porsche. Back to the Lada. But what about the job or the spiritual teacher? Well, I need the job to make a lot of money because that’s, er,
Okay, the spiritual teacher. She helps keep my stress levels down at the high-paying job, seems to have a hotline to the angelic realms (might be a good insurance policy) and, besides, is very attractive. In fact, I’m considering taking her tantra class. Wait! That’s the
"desirable" thing again. But it’s alright because she’s also very important to me, if not absolutely essential.
The problem with this definition is that it lacks precision—other than that needs apparently don’t include anything that’s simply about having a good time. But what is
"very important" or "essential" anyway? Everyone seems to have a different point of view—but maybe we’re all just confused by our desires...
On the face of it, needs are always relative to some purpose: "I need this medicine... to survive" "I need you... for me to be happy" "I need my
Porsche... to look like a winner" "I need this job... to pay for the Porsche"
Desires are much simpler: "I want this ice cream... because it tastes good" "I want pink champagne... because it makes me feel all bubbly inside" "I want you... because you make me feel bubbly too." Desires
don’t have an agenda. They're self-satisfying—or is that satisfying in themselves?
If desires and needs are both going in the same direction, so much the better. For example: "I also need this ice cream because it will help me stay awake while driving" "The champagne
also helps the dinner with the boss and his wife go smoothly—promotion, here I come!" "You also show me things I need to understand and open up parts of me I never knew were there"
Sounds good. However, when wants and needs are going in different directions, problems tend to follow:
the ice cream calories are blowing up your dress size, the champagne is bringing you out in hives and your boyfriend likes to play away half the time... What’s a girl to do?
Well, at this point, a lot of popular advice says you should become clear about your goals. In other
words, your needs should be defined by your desires — assuming you aren't in dire straits and urgently need to resolve a serious problem.
So if, say, you are clear you want to make a million, become a potter and/or enlightened you can then start drawing up a "roadmap" to help you get from where you are to where you want to be —
"find buried treasure, buy clay, start meditating"... or something like that.
Unfortunately, the goals you conceive of may have nothing to do with your real needs. And the reason for this is very simple: no amount of knowledge, words, reasons, physical perceptions, intuitions,
beliefs, fears, fantasies or desires can accurately identify the majority of our needs. It's true! We do the best we can with these faculties (or liabilities in some cases)—because we have to—and then we hope (usually without thinking anymore about it) that we've got it right.
Then again, maybe it doesn’t matter. Some people think that whatever you want is all that counts—the "live fast, die young, leave clean underwear" school of thought. But most people grow out of the rock and roll attitude at some point in their lives and even Sir Mick regularly works out in the gym and eats his veggies...
Read part two of Opening the Stareye: Creating a Higher Energy Future.