As we practice letting go, let’s consider the things we think we need.
Most of the time, it’s not true.
Of course, there are some real needs: food, shelter, water, clothing, affection, etc. Most of us are in the extremely fortunate position of not worrying too much about meeting those true needs.
But there are lots of other things we’ve grown accustomed to, and after awhile, we begin to rely on those things. We grow to think we need them, and that life would be unbearable without them.
And yet, this isn’t true. It’s a false belief, false needs.
- I need my cheese — this was something I believed for a long time that kept me from going vegan. It turned out to be false. Other variations: I need my meat, chocolate, sweets, burger, etc. None of those are real needs.
- Sentimental items, like photographs, childhood memorabilia, gifts from loved ones — most people don’t want to get rid of these because these represent memories, or love. It’s not true, because the love or memories aren’t actually in those items, they’re in your head and heart.
- I need things to feel secure — not having a bunch of things is scary, because for many people having lots of possessions is a form of security. It’s not true — the things don’t make you more secure. Having less debt does, as does having a backup plan.
- I need to check email — because you’re worried you might miss something important. Of course, this is rarely true, if ever. I’ve never had my world fall apart because I didn’t check email for a few hours, or half a day, or even a whole day. You just catch up.
- I need to be busy — because otherwise my business won’t succeed, or because people will think I’m important or competent. I’ve found this to be false — being less busy means you know how to prioritize and choose, and you are competent at simplifying. Even CEOs have asked me how to do this, because they’ve had the false need to be busy for so long it’s hard to break out of the habit.
- I need nice clothes — we think we need to look a certain way, to project an image or fit in. I’ve found that I can let go of those needs to dress to impress, and instead dress comfortably in minimalist clothing, and no one minds. Of course, certain jobs might require a certain dress code, but even then, those can often be challenged.
There are many other types of false needs, but you get the idea. Start to examine your beliefs, and don’t assume they’re true.
How to Let Go of Needs
Here’s what I suggest during your daily Gratitude & Letting Go session:
- Explore your needs. Take a minute to think about the things you think you need. Do you need coffee? The Internet? Your smartphone? Alcohol? Cheese? All the clothes you have? Your car? Meat? TV? Books? There will be some things on this list (and others you might think of) that will make you defensive or angry — what’s wrong with books or meat? Nothing is wrong with them. The question is whether they’re real needs or not.
- Imagine living without one of these things. What is your reaction? Why? What true need are they fulfilling (comfort, love, control)? Can you meet this need without this thing?
- Imagine yourself free from the need. It’s liberating not to need things. If you have fewer needs, you have fewer burdens. Imagine being able to live without the need, and what this could mean for you.
- Examine your fears. The fear of living without this “need” is what stops you from letting go. How true is this fear? Can you live a day without it? Try it. See if the fear comes true.
Letting go of the need is entirely within you. Test the fear for a day, and see what happens.