What Are My Needs?
Once upon a time (that is, in this previous article) I asked myself in a notebook: “What are your needs?”
This is the answer that flowed out spontaneously.
- a comfortable pleasing place to live
- good food to eat
- decent clothes to wear
- a sense of belonging
- fulfilling work to occupy my hands and mind
- connection and interaction with people.
- a feeling of having made some satisfying contribution
- color – means to travel and do things that bring color and music to my heart and life
- security – an assurance that my needs will be fulfilled – that what i need will come to me
- freedom – to do what my heart says, freedom to be myself
- freedom – from resentment, self-doubt, what-will-he-say/think and other mindsets that prevent me from moving
- a fulfilling exchange of love and respect with the people in my life
- connection to nature
- connection to an internal ठहराव
After it all got written down, I felt good. Clearly, I had made some progress from confusion into clarity.
Do you want to know why and how I got around to asking myself this question? That is all shared at length here.
It’s great to know explicitly what one’s needs are, instead of just feeling a vague sense of lack. With that knowing follows another curiosity. To what extent are those needs fulfilled. When a need is fulfilled, anything we have more is abundance.
Where Do I Stand?
After feeling happy and satisfied with myself for some time for having written my needs down, I got curious. Where do I stand with respect to each of these needs right now? So I typed it all in Excel, and marked out where I stand with each one of my needs. This is what I came up with.
Green indicates that I feel I do have that “thing”. The length of green indicates the extent to which I felt the need has been fulfilled, with a maximum length defined indicating 100% fulfillment. For example, at the time of the exercise, I felt my need for decent clothes to wear had been completely fulfilled. Red indicates that I feel I do not have that “thing” in my life. The length of red indicates the extent of scarcity I feel. How critical the scarcity is.
Once again, the benefit of marking out where I stand with respect to my needs, was clarity. Right here, in front of me, I could see clearly where my “problem points”, or actually, “scarcity points” were. The red lines and the very short green lines, but specially the red lines. It helped to have articulated it clearly, to get a clear picture for myself – what exactly needed to be addressed. Somehow just a clear awareness of a “problem” many a times sets the ball rolling and the solution seems to happen by itself.
Where Did I Stand Earlier?
Then I became curious again. I wanted to see where I felt I was, with respect to these needs, at a particular painful time in my past. A time that still troubled me.
I re-marked the list as per my present perception of where I was at that time in the past.
Now, that is really really nice! Look at the difference, then and now (now meaning the time when I carried out this exercise). So much of the red had converted into green.
I did feel that I have come much further ahead in life (not just in years, but in self-growth) since that time of painful past, but to see it like this sure was a ratification for my own self and my journey. Something to keep on one’s work board as a reminder of one’s strengths and the gifts received from life. Like graduate students are suggested that they keep a copy of their acceptance letter on their work board for times when they are sinking in self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy.
It helps to remind our self that we have made progress.
What can I conceive? What can I receive?
This part was interesting because it revealed the subtle thoughts inside me linked with the fulfillment of my needs.
So of course I want all my needs to be fulfilled. I wanted to see everything in green. However, everything in green of the 100% length conceptually seemed too unreal and plastic. I started marking out each item – to what extent did I consider them to be possible, feasible.
As I did it, this stage held other meanings: What can I imagine/conceptualize is possible for me? What am I comfortable to receive and hold in me?
This was the result. I have marked out the length indicating 100% complete fulfillment for your clarity.
These questions – “What can I imagine/conceptualize is possible for me? What am I comfortable to receive and hold in me?” are significant. They are equivalent to the questions: “Are your doors open?” or in Hindi: “आंचल कितना फैला है?”
If I cannot even imagine something is possible for me, or if I do so with a lot of trepidation, chances are that that itself contributes tremendously from keeping it away. Like, if I cannot imagine coming 1st in class is at all possible for me, chances are almost 100% that I will not, even if I harbor wishful desires for it. So maybe the first thing about the fulfillment of a need – do you think it is at all possible for you? If so, to what extent?
The second: What am I comfortable to receive and hold in me? Our needs or desires being fulfilled has a lot to do with whether our heart and mind is open enough to receive it. When I think of receiving appreciation, if my heart sinks back with sadness, that is an indicator. It is a pointer to something that is there in my heart/mind which likely comes and stands in the way, so that even if appreciation is coming to me, I do not receive it fully. Maybe I feel almost embarrassed and uneasy about it, if someone appreciates me. That indicates something to be looked into a bit deeper.
That is what I felt was the value of this part of the exercise – to mark out what I could conceive was possible for each of my self-professed needs. While I negotiated the length of green against each item that “felt” correct, I became keenly aware of thoughts and feelings inside me which were determining the “correct” length.
Some of the thoughts were almost comical or ironic in a way. Some very revealing to me of my own personality and knots in my heart/mind. For example, I was unable to make the “sense of belonging” any longer because it seemed marking it any longer would mean I am agreeing to merge and sacrifice my individuality. A greater fulfillment of having a sense of belonging seemed to demand that I would have to sacrifice something that I strongly value and have worked hard to freely express. Whether one indeed has to make such a sacrifice for feeling a sense of belonging as a fact or not, is not the point here. That it is an avenue into one’s own thinking pattern, that is the point. The sense of a give and take with an underlying tension that arose while arriving at the extent of fulfillment that I was comfortable with, was interesting, revealing and of value.
This part of the exercise I feel is also valuable as an explicit declaration for one’s self – what can I realistically aim for, as per where I am right now. Later of course, one may update one’s aims. For example, if you earn Rs. 2000 per month right now, conceiving earning Rs. 10,000 may seem more feasible, and something that can be realistically worked towards, than straight-away conceiving earning Rs. 100,000 per month. From that perspective, a diagrammatic representation of seeing all one’s needs fulfilled, to the extent that one is comfortable with, makes for a nice pin-up for one’s vision board.
So I happened to get some clarity – from a fuzzy sense of scarcity to a clearer understanding. If you are feeling a fuzzy sense of scarcity, maybe you would like to ask yourself explicity too: “What are my needs?” Ask your self with a pen and a notebook. Let your wise self talk to you.