When Desire Becomes Need

When the desire for something elevates to need what does it do to our confidence?


As I’ve discussed in earlier posts, desire is an essential element of happiness. Together desire and contentment enable us to live joyfully. Contentment is what enables us to enjoy all of the accomplishments we’ve experienced thus far…to be happy with where we are in life.

Desire gives us something to look forward to. It lays the foundation for future accomplishments and the joy those accomplishments afford.


When you experience the emotion of need, what do you feel? Unfulfilled? Inept? Inadequate? Unhappy? Frustrated?

Or do you experience emotional highs in the forms of joy, peace, contentment and fulfillment?

My experience has been the former. I don’t feel good about myself at all when I feel that I need something. Instead I feel an emptiness, a void in my life. Not only that, but the harder I push to get what I “need” the more elusive it becomes. You’re already getting the feeling of circling the drain, aren’t you?

Indeed, that’s precisely what we experience when desire becomes need. We experience a downward spiral replete with feelings of scarcity, frustration, doubt about our abilities, hits to our confidence, a deeper sense of scarcity, more frustration…on and on.

So how do we avoid circling the drain? What can we do to avoid elevating desire to need?

Avoidance tactics

First, acknowledge that need is an emotional reaction. It’s automatic. We can’t prevent it, but we can learn to recognize it quickly and just as quickly set that emotion aside…as you’ve learned to do with so many other emotions.

Second, recall how readily you’ve been able to set aside other emotions. These memories enable you to be confident in your ability to overcome the emotion of need.

Third, take a moment to relish all that is good in your life. It only takes a few seconds to recall some of the countless joys we’ve experienced in life. Even those who tend to see the negative more readily than the positive, will recall good things that have happened in their lives.

Fourth, recognize that fulfilling your desire may add to this list of joyful experiences, but it is in no way essential to your happiness as you move forward. Remember that you’ve lived for years, if not decades, without what you currently desire. And you’ve done so joyfully…without angst, fear, frustration or anger. You can again…if you return this “need” back to desire.

Finally, recall that joy is in the journey not the destination. Who among us hasn’t labored diligently for years to achieve a goal, then within moments of its achievement wondered “What’s next?”

The reality is that the joy of successful accomplishment is fleeting, the joy of living contented yet desirous lives is eternal.

For you

The next time that you feel that you need something to be happy, mentally walk yourself through the avoidance tactics outlined above. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your feelings of frustration, anger, scarcity and ineptitude are replaced by confidence, joy, peace and excitement over what the future holds for you.

For our kids

When you see your kids elevate something they desire to need, don’t tell them how to deal with it. They’ll resist being told, just as we do. Instead, ask them how they feel about having an unfulfilled need.

Then ask them how they feel when they have a new goal…something they desire, but haven’t yet achieved. Through these questions they’ll gain an understanding of how desires enhance their lives and needs diminish it. Kids are quick studies, they may even get it more quickly than we did.

As the kids in your life discover difference between desire and need, they’ll also discover a powerful way to boost their confidence.

If you’d like to develop the skills to teach confidence as part of your role as an educator, coach, consultant, trainer, leader or other professional, check out my professional development and certification programs at TeachingConfidence.com.

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