What We Don’t Need

by Ashley on September 11, 2012

Somewhere in our minds, hidden away, or perhaps locked away in solitary confinement, is a voice that will admit we don’t need much of what we buy.

Hedgehog candle

How cute is this?

I don’t listen to that voice very often either.

I have few obsessions with material things, but the ones I do have are hard core. I can keep my penchant for school/office supplies under control by avoiding that aisle at Target and staying far, far away from Office Depot. Shoes are another story, but when I consider price and the available space left in my closet, I can keep the purchases relatively infrequent.

Hedgehogs, however, are in a league of their own.

They’re rare to find, but I have some sort of hedgehog-homing device built into my brain. If there’s a figurine, stuffed animal, drawing, pillow, notepad, anything hedgehog-themed in a store, I will find it. Makes no difference how big the store is.

I found a hedgehog-shaped candle a couple days ago. I texted my hubby about it, expressing my need to add it to my (vast) collection of hedgehogs. It was mostly a joke, but only mostly.

In the moment, it can feel like a need, can’t it?

When it comes to hedgehogs, yeah, it’s a need.

How to Resist the Obsession

Recently I’ve had a drastic change of perspective, and I’m doing a lot better at focusing on actual needs. By no means am I completely reformed, but I’m improving.

What’s that you say? You’re wondering what could possibly have made me reconsider buying a hedgehog candle for my collection? I’m so glad you asked! I’m still in disbelief myself, but I’ll tell you.

Serious soul searching.

Yes, I know, I’ve said many times before that I’m doing some soul searching, changing my ways, yadda yadda yadda. This time, though, it’s more like soul realization.

My realization was that I first had to determine what I want. Like, really want. Only then can I determine what I need.

Trying to determine needs first (besides basics like food, clothing, shelter, etc.) just results in confusion and a lot of junk piled up in closets and on shelves.

To uncover what I really want, I asked myself some difficult questions. What are the most important things in my life? (Hint: They’re not things.) Where do I want to be in five years in terms of family, career, finances and spiritual life? (Classic interview question, and more important than ever to give the right answer.)

When I had my answers (and don’t bother cheating because you only cheat yourself – as one of our high school teachers liked to remind us), I started planning goals. After all, if I don’t have a destination, how will I ever find the path?

Now, when a decision must be made, whether it’s a purchase or not, I consider which option will move me closer to my goals. It makes the decision-making process a lot easier, especially for someone who often agonizes over simple choices.

Actionable Changes

When I saw the hedgehog candle, I had a weak moment. My inner want-it-now voice screamed at me: You don’t have a hedgehog candle yet! It would be a great addition to the hundreds of hedgehogs you have displayed around the house!

But that other, quieter voice, laced with perspective, reminded me that there are more important things. Even if it costs only $6, that’s money I could put toward one of my goals. What if I just bought tons of things that cost only $6, I reasoned. Eventually, that will add up to thousands of dollars, a whole lot of clutter in my house, and not one step closer to where I want to be.

In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t give in. Besides the fact that I’m proud of my new mindset and my resistance, I discovered I actually do have a hedgehog candle in my collection.

Are your needs getting in the way of your wants?


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