Need from Want

What I want from what I need: I want others to be the way I want them to be (distal). What I need is to have certain qualities in my relationships with others (proximal).

Joe wants Jane to be home. He wants to have the reassurance that she is okay and that she remains committed to him and to their marriage and family. Each of these depends on her being different in ways Joe can't determine. He wants her home because he enjoys her company and needs the intimacy they create with each other. He wants her reassurance because he needs a relationship with her which is characterized by trust and mutual support. But if he cannot see these distinctions between what he wants and what he needs, then all he knows is that he wants her to avoid conversations with male colleagues at work. Thus he will likely try to get her to behave differently in ways that will have the opposite effect. He will become shrill and demanding and she will withdraw.

We can't discover what we need if we don't let go of holding only to our judgment about what it means about the other when we are in conflict with them and look instead to how we are being affected. When we stay in our projections about who they are and what they are doing wrong and how we would like them to do differently, we are remaining focused on what we want, not on what we need.

Jane needs a quality of respect in the relationship which is missing when Joe doesn't do his part. Well Joe needs a quality of respect which is missing when Jane interrupts the game. He also needs a quality of personal integrity which is missing when he doesn't follow through on his commitments. Jane also needs the integrity to notice her own needs and to act to care for herself. They each have the same needs and acting to create what they each need doesn't compromise the wellbeing of the other; indeed it promotes it.

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