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The Importance of Need Verse Want

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

How often do say the word “need” when you actually mean “want”? Have you stumbled into the trap of forgetting them have a difference? I had to. That is until I became a mum.

One of my “things” was not wanting to conform to any stereotype of motherhood. I wanted to, no needed to, do it my way. The images of motherhood online didn’t appeal. I hate the term “winging it” because I have yet to meet a mum who is actually winging it, all that phrase does is downplays how much effort it takes to be a mum. I also have a strong dislike for posts that describe a situation (usually a bad one) and end with the sentence “…then are you even a mum?”. I mean REALLY. Yes, thank you very much I am really a mum if a certain bad thing hasn’t happened to me. I’m also no less of a mum if that situation has happened to me. There are so many slightly funny, but underlying negative and damaging images online, no wonder we all think motherhood is crumby. 

The one I see the most though is the misuse of the word need. Actually, this is a dangerous misuse, because it teaches kids and us that we need something to function. It shows that something external has the power and not us. “Need” show dependence and even addiction. “Want” shows choice, control and decision. 

The 3 most commonly posted about “needs” are alcohol, coffee and sleep. The only actual “need” in that list is sleep. I seem to have become hyper-aware of these two words in the last year. I think a big part of that is that I recently completed a challenge of 12 months sober. I had my last drink in the early hours of my 31st Birthday and my next one a little after 3pm on my 32nd Birthday. There were maximum of 3-4 times in that 12 months when I wanted a drink. I can actually online remember 2 specific ones. Both of these wants actually had different needs. The first time I wanted a drink, what I needed to do was leave the dinner I was at because another lady was being nasty, so I did. The other time I can remember I actually needed a cuddle and to go to bed, so I did that instead. 

Now before you jump on your high horse and claim I’m “mum shaming”. I’m not in any way saying it’s a bad thing to “want” something, coffee or alcohol included. What I am saying is it can be dangerous to label a “want” as a “need”. 

Once you have spotted the misuse you will see it all the time in memes and people’s posts. You will even start spotting it when you talk or type. So, my challenge for you is to start using the correct word. Correct yourself mid-sentence if you need to (I do that a lot). Take back the control over your words and see how much it takes back the control over your life.

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