“Simplicity does not one day suddenly arrive. You must minimize now, remove what is unused and unnecessary seek nothing more than a deeper connection with what is here.”
– Brendon Burchard
The word “need” sparks an understanding of lack. We need “something” because we don’t already have it. We need “someone” because we are inadequate on our own. We need a certain feeling because our heart’s natural ache isn’t enough. Some part of us is lacking so in turn we need something in addition to what we have: more time, more stuff, more friends, more passion. . .
But what if there was another perspective?
What if we in fact changed our viewpoint of “need” from requiring something to expressing necessity? What if instead of looking to fulfill inner desires, we soul search to pinpoint the very root of those desires? Chances are if we did, the solution to filling in the gaps would have to do a lot less with “something” and “someone” and more to do with our own nebulous feelings of lack. It’s not what is lacking around us but rather what is lacking within us.
We’ve all done it. We’ve piled up possessions, kept tally of relationships and crammed our schedules in hopes that our inner selves will be silenced under the rubble. But there’s a truth about souls that can’t be ignored: the more they are covered, the louder they cry out.
So what if instead of needing another pair of shoes or new friendship we realized instead that we need to create space to let our souls breathe and rest; space for them to speak to us. The honest truth is that the space terrifies us. We don’t want to know what we lack. It’s much easier to add another stack of clothes to the shelf than to comes to terms with feeling inadequate as a parent. Collecting successful to-do lists is less painful than examining our doubts of success. It’s easier to deal with the tangible. Soft sweaters provide tactile, instant comfort, but it’s a comfort that fades. Sometimes it takes days, sometimes just hours, but it inevitably fades and we are instead left wondering what would bring us that spark of fulfillment once more.
That space is necessary. Space for thought and self reflection is necessary. Space for honesty to travel from our hearts to our minds is necessary. It’s a space that can only be created by removal. It’s the move from requiring more to the necessity of less. It becomes necessary to release wherever you allow yourself to hide amongst clutter- possessions, relationships, busy schedules, what have you. They are all traps that promise release but instead ensnare you.
Getting rid of things isn’t always enough. Sometimes you have to push yourself further to understand that your need is to create and empty space and leave it that way. That’s the terrifying part. Our culture hates feeling empty. We hate empty glasses, empty inboxes, empty comment sections, empty bellies, empty closets. We can’t stand when conversation quiets and we are left with empty space between us and the person next to us. We have been convinced that it must all be filled. So we pile in the possessions, we seek shallow praise and offer meaningless conversation just to ease that discomfort of ever lacking. We fear judgement of others when we don’t. We fear that our empty spaces will communicate that we are “less than”. We don’t know who we are “less than”. We have just been told we will be less than someone if we don’t take advantage of that extra 40% off. The ramifications of being “less” aren’t even clear. We just know that we don’t want to be anything close to that.
But what if just like our “need” we changed our perspective on what “less” means to us. What if “less” went from meaning a lack of something to room for the meaningful? What if we realized that our “less” provides time, wealth and energy for those soul yearnings we fear to give a voice. What if instead of filling our closets with clothes that we hope and pray will bring our bodies confidence, we emptied those spaces and put our time and money towards healthy foods and enjoyable physical activities that will sculpt our frames as well as renew our hearts and minds in the process? What if we stopped endlessly decorating our homes and instead offered time to help those who admire our design tastes? That empty space would provide time to encourage others as well as to receive validation from others of our talents and skills. It’s validation that no object can bestow upon us.
When it comes down to it, no need can be filled unless it begins with understanding. Our society works hard to fulfill a lot of what we think are needs but are in fact guesses- and not even educated ones. Instead of making quick rationalizations about why we are purchasing, we need to first ask ourselves the “whys” behind the desire.
Why do we desire this?
Why do we feel incomplete without it?
Why didn’t we feel that lack before we saw that commercial?
Why do we fear feeling less than those who already have it?
Why do the thoughts and emotions of those people matter to us?
Then comes the whats:
What part of myself is causing this feeling of lack?
What can I do about myself to fix this ache?
I would much rather learn to ask two questions rather than a rambling list. Even though they are the tough ones. Even though I may need that empty space to come to the right conclusion. I would still rather conquer those two questions because those are what matter the most. The answers to these questions are what will push us towards fulfillment. It’s the shift from looking inwards rather than outwards.
And it all starts with the shift of learning to need a whole lot less.
Until next time!