My recent discovery is that I have needs. Legitimate needs. And I need to make sure they get met.
On the one hand, your first thought might be, “Well, duh. Very insightful, girlfriend. Everyone has needs. For example, everyone needs water, food, love…” Or it could be the opposite, “‘Need’ is a very strong word. Most of what you think you need is really a want.” I would know; I’ve tended to ride these extremes.
However, the fact of the matter is that there is a middle ground–one that deserves our attention. Sometimes I inaccurately frame my “wants” as “needs.” But just as likely, I fear, I dismiss my sincere and legitimate “needs” as only selfish “wants.” And that isn’t fair to myself.
I, after all, am a princess of the True and living God, complete with needs deserving much more than flippant dismissal. I am worth fighting for and I–being the one best aware of my needs–have the responsibility to fight for them.
Honestly, it is a bit humbling.
It’s humbling to admit I have needs. It’s humbling to put a limit on what I can do for others because I need to take time for myself. It’s humbling to ask for things I need.
But I’m worth it. So I’ve been learning to set up boundaries. Not to control others. But for my own safety–out of self-respect. It’s not easy.
Then I have to set up realistic, concrete boundaries.
“I need rest, hence I can help you, but only until 10 pm.”
“I need respect so if you continue to use that tone of voice with me, I will walk away.”
“I value our relationship, however, I need it to be grounded on trust and if you continue to lie to me, I will have to remove myself from this situation for my own safety.”
“I need someone to listen, so even if it might inconvenience her, I will call my friend.”
“I need help with dinner, so I need you to turn off the TV.”
“I need your attention, so I need you to set aside your phone.”
While the concepts are always true, most of my specific boundaries are grounded in some time and circumstantial frame; things I need in certain moments, but not all the time. For example, some nights I can stay up later than 10 talking to a friend. Sometimes I can grin and bear it and make dinner alone. Sometimes I can just journal instead of talking in real time to a friend. However, just because they aren’t always a need doesn’t dismiss them as never a need.
I definitely don’t claim to know the trick to determining when a desire is a want versus a need. That’s a struggle I’m dealing with every day. Do I really need time alone or am I just wanting it? And then there are other confusing conflicts; I need time alone to rest and she needs someone to be with her and listen to her. What then? My mom needs to be treated with respect, but her son needs to be heard and loved regardless.
So, no, I don’t have that down yet. But for now I’m giving myself space to recognize that I do have needs. Legitimate needs. And, being a human created in the very image of our great God, I have a right to treat myself with respect. In fact, I have the duty to stand up for myself–to make sure my needs are met. Because I’m worth it.
You’re worth it. And you do have needs. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s right, even. So give yourself space to listen to your needs. And then set up boundaries to take care of yourself. It’s how God created us. Self-respect is not selfish.
Comment below. What are some needs that you legitimately have? What are some boundaries that are appropriate, even though they may sometimes feel selfish? What do you do to differentiate between a want and a need?