What Do You Need?

“I need you tonight” ~ INXS

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Need (vb): to require or be in want of


What do you need? What do you really need? Feel free to take time to think about that one, pop and put the kettle on if you like, these words will still be here when you come back.

I ask as there is a difference between want and need. And I think people get the two of them confused.

I want to not be in debt, I want someone to take me out for breakfast (possibly dinner by the time I have finished writing this), I want a holiday when I can relax from work and the various stresses I have encountered in my life recently. Do I need these things? No. But do I need security, do I need food, do I need rest? Yes. The first is a list of wants that are mere forms of tending to actual needs.

For those who aren’t familiar (and I only met him two years ago) meet Abraham Maslow and his Hierarchy of Needs.

If you look at the bottom two lines, you can see where security, food, and rest come in; no mention of debt, being taken out for food, or holidays and so the difference between need and want is defined. We need certain physical factors; how we want them is a different matter.

The status of our needs fluctuate during the day. They can fluctuate during one conversation. If the need for food and rest is sated, it won’t stay that way as sooner or later more food and more rest will be required. Put simply, if you’re tired and hungry you will not function as well as if you’ve had a decent rest and something to eat. It will be a rare person indeed who hasn’t experienced this at some point in their life. But, as the physiological and the safety needs are met, it allows the mind and the body to venture further; to stretch and expand and take on new concepts. And those new concepts can be scary.

I started writing two years ago about self-confidence and self-esteem so I find the top of the pyramid fascinating. My mind is drawn to self-actualisation, to test theories, to learn, to think, to grow. But in the midst of doing so I may slide around in my needs and need a cup of tea or to hear somebody say ‘well done’. Being able to achieve a state of acceptance doesn’t mean staying there forever. It may only be for one particular issue or for one particular time but, just like with needing food and rest, the need comes about to be met or challenged again.

I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg with this, I want to do a lot more reading and a lot more thinking. Is that a want or is it a need? I’m not sure yet. But to me it translates as quote I used in a previous blog about Competition: “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself” ~ Mikhail Baryshnikov

In my reading, my learning, my thinking, I want to be the best me I can be. I’m the only ever me there will ever be so I want to be a good one. My friend Jon Harman crated this video on that kind of thinking. It blows my mind every time I watch it. I aspire to be like this:


So I’ll ask you again: what do you need? Take all the time you want to think about it, these words will still be here when you come back. 





Caveat: This is not my area of expertise nor my field of research so please don’t take what I say as anything other than my own musings on this particular subject. These thoughts come from inside me, spurred on by my conversations, questions, and realisations.

5 thoughts on “What Do You Need?

  1. Have never been entirely happy with precise definitions of self-actualisation. I’m not sure that Maslow himself actually used the terms at the top of the pyramid. I’ve always preferred descriptions such as “The realisation of potential” for the individual, which seems less prescriptive and is an essential part of a person centred approach

    • As I said, I haven’t studied it. It’s only something I know because of a passing conversation 2 years ago that lead to a few more conversations recently. I’m in no position to know terms that Maslow, or indeed anyone else, used. I’m just reacting to things I have seen.

  2. I love this, Veep. My own reply is so lengthy I think it requires a blog post all its own! If only we could all have the things we both want AND need. Love to you. Lx

  3. Nice post Veep, I haven’t studied Maslow for over 20 yrs but there are some kernels of wisdom in there as I recall. As a child my mother always told me to never want for anything, to only focus on the things we need. This has helped a lot over the years, the world is trying to con us with the wants, it’s the essence of Bernays marketing, want and desire for things you don’t need. As they say in Fight Club, the things you own, end up owning you. When I return from my hols will dig up more stuff around these important debates. : )

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