Thursday, August 25, 2022

What do you really want? (Needs and Wants)

"All we do is behave."

- #7, The Ten Axioms of Choice Theory by William Glasser


This is a "revision" of what I recently learnt from the "basic practicum", part of the training needed to become a Choice Theory Practitioner of William Glasser Institute. I would like to provide a summary of the most important tenets of choice theory for my friends and anyone who read this blog. 

Basic Needs

Before I can go into "wants", I need to first touch on the concept of basic needs. Very briefly, we each have 5 basic needs - survival, love and belonging, power, fun and freedom.

Survival - Basic physiological need that includes, eat, sleep, safety and procreation.

Love and Belonging - Relations and social connectivity.

Power - A sense of control over one's life and destiny, respect and positive regards.

Fun - A need for relaxation and being away from stress. Another way of looking at it - if stress is involved, it is not fun.

Freedom - The ability to make choices for self - free of influences, controls and conditions. 

A lot of people mixes up "Fun" and "Freedom" due to the way how we often link these 2 together in conversations. It may be helpful to remember that some folks prefer to live a mundane life that is not exactly fun but they are free to do anything they want. On the other hand, I know more than a few who professed to be perfectly ok tied to a dead-end job as long as the pay grants them the ability to have fun on the weekends or take a vacation every couple of months.

While similar in concept to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Glasser's basic needs are not hierarchical. The 5 needs exist in every person, each need independent of the others For example, your need for "freedom" does not develop only after you had fulfilled your survival need; your need for survival exists alongside your desire for freedom. The intensity of each need will differ from person to person but low need does not mean no need. Unmet needs, no matter insignificant,  have the effect of blowing up and cause problems for the individual.


Our "wants" are how we envision our needs can be met. "Wants" are derived from the pictures of our "Quality World". Each want we have is linked to a quality world picture within our head; each picture paints a very definite idea of how a need will be met. 

For example, how I fulfill my "fun" need is to get on a bike and cycle at least 3 hours every Saturday and if I don't get that, I start feeling grouchy and restless until that need is met. It would be helpful to create different "wants" to fulfill the same need, especially if that need is particularly high. Using the same example, I need different ways to fulfill my "fun" need when the weather or schedule does not allow me to have a long ride. Therefore, I can choose to go on a long quiet drive or being able to play a couple of hours of video games without interruption.

However, we can have ineffective wants because of the warping of the pictures in our quality world. This may be due to how we perceive the world around us (also named as "Perceived World"). For example, a person who attempts to fulfill his survival needs by attempting to accumulate huge savings may have his perception shaped by the things he read (i.e. needing an amount of savings way above his lifestyle requirements). As such, he will have a hard time getting a sense of fulfillment and may even feel threatened because he feel his survival need is unmet. 

Finally "wants" are what drive our behavior. Hence the quote at the top - "All we do is behave". We choose how we want to behave in order to meet the needs. Whether the choices are effective or ineffective is a different matter; the ineffective behavior can be addressed and worked on through a coaching or counselling session.