You’re happily wandering the aisles of your favourite store and your youngster comes up to you for the 10th time with a treasure they’ve found.
You know what they want. They want IT. Whatever is in their hands. They want you to buy it for them. You bought things for them before! They can’t understand what the difference is between the last thing you agreed to buy for them and all the things they’ve shown you today. To them your decisions seem random, no matter what you say –
You’ve already got one!
We can’t afford it!
Stop asking me buy plastic rubbish!
To them, everything that attracts their eyes is a treasure, valuable (to them), unique and delightful in every possible way. The concept of affordability is so hard for them to understand. Didn’t you just buy some clothes? Some food? Even if they accept your refusal, they don’t truly understand why.
In their mind they NEED it.
In their mind you are making weird decisions. They NEED this thing and you are denying them the pleasure of owning it. YOU know they’re going to break it, or play with it for a week then lose interest. YOU know you have to be careful with money, and you want to teach them that they can’t just have everything they want, every time they ask.
But young minds don’t really understand the difference between NEED and WANT.
Even as adults we struggle with this.
Most of us WANT stuff. And we get most of it. We have amazing wealth and spacious homes, with loads of storage, compared to past times and other countries. There’s very few reasons why we can’t buy most of what we want.
~ Obviously, we sometimes want things we simply can’t have. Or we have other priorities for our money and space. (It might be more important to buy a family sized car, instead of the pink convertible you’ve dreamt of since you were a kid and saw Barbies car for the first time.)
Our level of what we consider to be NEEDS is so much higher than our parents was, or our grandparents. What used to be WANTS a generation ago, are now automatically NEEDS. Our living conditions have improved, conveniences have been invented, and our lifestyles are very different indeed.
And for the next generation it will be the same. Right now, for many a Smart Phone is a NEED. Who knows what might be a NEED for your great-grandchildren!
So… you’re reading this for a reason. It might have come to your attention that your stuff is getting out of hand. You’re looking for some ideas, some motivation, some tips to help manage your stuff.
You might be running out of room, be dreading unpacking into your new house, or fighting with your significant other about your stuff vs their stuff (which is more important?) Or you might be worried about your shopping habits, your kids expectations or living in a sustainable way.
You can declutter, (YES! Do IT!) You can organise, (it’s life changing!) But it’s all going to come back if you keep thinking about everything you WANT as a NEED.
The trick to managing your stuff long term, is adjusting how you think about it, in the short term.
As adults, we understand all the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t have something we WANT. We might not always clearly think them out, but subconsciously we know why. Sometimes (or often) though, we say to ourselves “I really NEED a… [thing]”
~ I’m not talking about the basics: actual needs. Everyone’s needs are different of course and YOU know what is truly an essential to you and your way of life.
It might be an addition to your wardrobe, all the things that come with a new passion or a gadget that takes your fancy. Or it might be all the things you’re saving because they’re cute or might come in handy one day.
And that’s becoming a problem for you. You might bring home that thing you think you NEED and at some point feel regret. It might not be for a while, but right now you know you’re having a problem with all your stuff. And a lot of that stuff is actually a WANT disguised as a NEED.
If you’re struggling with your stuff for whatever reason, and want to truly resolve that struggle, it will help if you pause before you buy anything or accept gifts.
Ask yourself – do I truly NEED it? Do I have room for it? Will it be worth adding to my collection of stuff? If I buy something else, important stuff, will I still have room for this thing? Will I still use it and love it in a year or two years or longer? Is it worth the space it will take up and is it worth my energy, maintaining it and storing it?
Make it a habit to ask yourself, every time you catch yourself saying “I NEED a…” Is it actually a WANT? (And wants are ok, if you can answer all those questions above, with a yes.)
If it helps, imagine you’re talking to YOUR inner kid. The one who WANT’s this thing, but feels it as a NEED. What would you say to your inner kid if they were standing next to you in the shop holding the thing you WANT. Big eyes looking up at you, saying “Puleeeease!”
(Because saying please seems to have some kind of magical power with grown-ups…)
It’s then that you can make the wisest decision. Because you’ve given yourself time to think.
Is this a NEED or is it a WANT?
The Tidy Lady
Declutter Coach & Tidyness Expert