Anna Nugent

Want (v) “have a desire to possess or do (something); wish for.”

Desire (v) “strongly wish for or want (something).”

Need (v) “require (something) because it is essential or very important rather than just desirable.” or “expressing necessity or obligation.”

Prefer (v) “like (one thing or person) better than another or others; tend to choose.”

I remember sometime last year, my sister passed on a technique that she had heard from someone that encouraged the use of the word “desire” instead of “want” to encourage a more positive spin on wishing. We’ve both been trying to turn around our beliefs about money. And language is really powerful, the words you use can be connected to and reveal how you think. The definition for the word “want” includes the concepts of lack, deficiency and possession. Using the word “want” can unknowingly reinforce lack. “Need” is often used in the same way. Need should probably be reserved for those particular moments when you are talking about the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid, your physiological and safety needs, not necessarily that ticket to that amazing concert or holiday abroad. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring those lovely things, but what are the words you are using, where are you putting the emphasis in your life? The emptiness or the abundance?

I’m an attacher so it is particularly wise for me to be aware of the words I use, because often there is deeper attachment or meaning that goes with what may appear to be a very innocent phrase. A book my husband was reading talked about using the word “prefer” instead of “want”. Prefer lets you share your opinion, your desire, but detaches you from the outcome. If it is just a preference it means that you know what will float your boat, but you are able to live with whatever happens. The word sounds a bit clinical because it simply isn’t as loaded as the other three and that is what makes it a more interesting bet. I love the passion of need, want, desire, yet, there is such a freedom, simplicity and peace in prefer. Again, there is nothing wrong with passion, but if there is passion in every decision, every little preference you have, then living can be truly exhausting and also disappointing. There is so much that I do have that gets pushed to the side when I focus on the lack. What we focus on gets bigger. So why not focus on respecting your preferences, your choices, your inclinations and growing the confidence in your ability to thrive no matter what.

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