Much frustration lies in the ideology or the fear that somehow our needs are being defined for us. Fear is lying to you.
I believe the majority of our leadership is doing what is believed to be in the best interest of the majority of the population. Yet, as time goes and grows, desire and needs begin to overlap. However, if you really think about it, other than how often you leave your home, what has truly changed? Hasn’t desire and need always overlapped in some way?
If we look at Maslow’s theory, we know within this theory is the understanding that unless the lowest tiered needs have been met, the upper hierarchy of needs cannot be met. How we define a need being met actually has more to do with our perception of our actual need for these needs. For example, within the lowest level of the hierarchy is physiological needs: breathing, food, water, sex, homeostasis, excretion. The majority of these needs MUST be met in order for wellness to exist. In this example, sex is not a need for repopulating the species, but the need to engage in sexual activity to maintain an overall wellbeing. I would challenge whether or not all needs listed, are actual needs or if they must all be met before moving on. Perhaps the tiers can be tweaked, depending on the individual and whether something is truly a need.
Is sex a true need? According to some studies, “there is not a clear link between a “lack” of sex and more serious medical or psychological pathology. And when one considers the occasional medical/mental health costs of engaging in sex” (e.g., Meier, 2007), or the “considerable efforts people go to to sometimes conceal their sexual activity (e.g., Olson & García-Moreno, 2007), it’s not at all clear that engaging in sex is always a plus for mental or physical well-being.”
In a study by Meston and Buss (2007), their work has people identifying reasons (more than 250 reasons) for engaging in sex. A closer look at their list of Top 50 reasons by both men and women seems to show the reasons are less about needs and more about other drives/motives. Sex is most likely a widely-shared want than an actual need. Plus, let us take into account the wellbeing of those choosing celibacy or perhaps persons who for medical or psychological reasons are not engaging in sex. Certainly, they adjust their hierarchial needs barometer and thus their happiness and wellbeing are intact and they can move up other levels. Sex, for the sake of sex, while enjoyable for those of us engaging, is not a bona fide need. Neither is ice cream, or a chocolate bar, or wine.
If we move up a level to safety, much of our angst lies there. Constantly hearing words like uncertainty and unprecedented times does not do much for our perception of safety. However, if we look at how we are, individually, right now, we can see those needs are better met than we believe. Maybe the situation is less than ideal. Or, if you lost a loved one to this illness, this area may be where your struggle prevails. Grief and suffering make us feel as if we can only function in the bottom tier and we are not even sure we can do that. It’s ok to feel that way. If there ever was a moment to reassess needs, this would be the time for you, especially. Honor the process and honor how you feel. Process through, then move.
Moving up the tiers to love/belonging and self-esteem, some people do not enjoy being with their families. Some people prefer to be by themselves. This IS how their needs are met. I know quite a few well-rounded introverts. Again, perception vs need. Some people crave wanting to hug another human, while others are content and have been practicing for this shelter-in-place order most their lives.
There is the desire to want things to go back to whatever you defined as normal. I would ask you how well your version of normal was working out for you. Perhaps your needs were met then and are met now; you’re adaptable. That is great! Maybe this process has shown you areas in your life where you can be better, or helped you better assess needs versus desires. We don’t need to go out to eat. We desire to go out to eat. However, many restaurants were able to reassess how they do business and stay open, offering carryout and delivery. You can still support these businesses. Other businesses had to close and were without options to reassess and open differently. I had to cut many of my services because I can only do so much online. I had to purchase additional software and hardware to keep up with the needs or running my business solely online. I had to assess my personal needs and my business and clients needs. It has not been easy for a lot of us. What I am learning is we are quick to adapt.
So, when you think about your individual needs are you complaining your needs are not being met or losing your collective minds because you feel tethered to the system instead of having the freedom you thought you had? I have news for you. You can still make all those same choices. You can assess your needs and respond. Every choice has a consequence; some good, some bad. Decisions made were for the best interest as a collective. You can be the problem or be part of solution, for yourself and your community. THAT IS how it has ALWAYS been.
Fear has been lying to us. Fear makes us feel as if none of our needs are being met. Do yourself a favor, in case you were unsure just by reading this now, follow these steps:
1. Breathe in.
2. Realize the life force entering you.
3. Breathe out.
4. Realize the life force you are giving to the plants, trees and greenery.
Your most basic need is met. You’re breathing. Fear did not win. Fear wins when it paralyzes you and keeps you from living. You are breathing. You are alive. Doing things to keep homeostasis is part of meeting and fulfilling that need. You did that before the crisis, you’re doing it now. You have breath, you have food and resources for food, you have ability to interact- if you desire.
Fear lies to you, tells you your needs are not being met. How many of your pre-crisis needs have you realized by now are actually desires?
Meditate on what your actual needs are and how they are being met. Complying the best you are able is for essential and non-essential employees and all people right now. Because now and always each of us are essential. It is essential how you decide and how you define your true needs. How you decide and define may be what hinders an actual need of another. Be the solution, not part of the problem.