I need to vs I have to

   We do things every day. Some of them we enjoy doing, others to do because we have to and some we do because we need to. There is this thing I’ve noticed: whenever we have to do things, we sometimes feel worse compared to the things we need to do. Why is this happening?

   I believe this happens because when we have to do things, we subconsciously feel obligated to do them. It’s not something that we want to do, but we’re forced to do and we hate when we’re forced to do things. But when we need to do things, it implies a desire coming from our own self even if we don’t necessarily like that. For example, when I say “I have to go to work” I feel some resentment compared to when I say “I need to go to work” which is a little better because I’m doing it for myself, not for the circumstances that force me to do it (like bills or food; yeah, I need those too, but if I say I have to, it can create the feeling that I can live without those things).

   As you notice, the situation is the same, but the way we’re labeling it makes the difference in the way we feel. I believe that in the end, all we want is to feel better with the life we’re living so I’m willing to try almost anything that seems to help with this. Since I’ve started labeling these things as needs, I feel like I have more control over my life.

   What’s your opinion about this? Have you noticed anything similar?

36 thoughts on “I need to vs I have to

  1. I have a similar thing. I’m vegan. So, when non-vegans say to me, “oh, sorry, I forgot, you can’t eat that” I say, “Oh, I can, I just choose not to.” It gives them something to think about.

  2. DINTT – Do I need this thought? Do i neutralise this? – So much of our thought is habitual and unnecessary. I repeat my acronym when they come back. Then I try to rephrase it, in a similar way that you have. You get to a certain point and think – does this thought help me to be happy? Y/N – if no – work towards not having it.

    1. That’s a great systematic thought analysis. The first and most important step for us is to realize that the thoughts we have are not necessarily laws that we should obey.

  3. Hey great insights. I hope you can change your labeling from I need to… into I love to! That is full of power, embracing things to do and will implement that you really find joy in the things you actually do. If you learn to love something you will push yourself in a very positive position which creates a lot of good vibes! As soon as you are labeling that task with loving it, it will be great one, you find joy in it. Let me give you an example: before I hate to do the dishes. My family is always eating a lot and dishes and mugs are everywhere. Beside the dishmachine which is very busy in my household I need to clean pots and pans and all these stuff. In the past I hated that. Then I thought about embracing that task and making it a better thing for me. I just thought with great music it would be easier to do. So if lunch is finished I will plug-in my headphones and be offline for the others. It’s a kind of dishwashing meditation while I my mind is cruising around with the music and my hands do their job and wash the dishes. Afterwards I will sit down and drink a mug of tea. By creating a situation which gives me a hug like good music and a hot beverage afterwards I really look forward to that me- time and the chore because it changed to the good! I should say love doing the dishes while listening to music:-)

    1. What a great strategy! You transformed something you used to hate into something you love by associating that with something else and the feeling embraces the whole situation, not those things as separated. It is awesome! Even without an association, the labeling itself can make a difference. Language is that powerful. We just need to make a habit out of it. 🙂

      1. Yes you see an optimistic view on something can change every bad thought into a good one! I actually like to challenge myself to put effort in every bad feeling to convert it. Happiness is so much better then feeling depressed and down. But it’s a decision you have to take ones for a lifetime. People always face bad things and problems in life. but the mean issue how do you react to that?!

  4. I agree even with people’s approach with giving advice ive tried to explain the same concept. It’s not that the overall message changes but how you word it can make a huge difference in how it’s received. I’ll start telling myself I need to go to work and see if it makes a difference.

  5. I love the post, I consider that I Always do what I want and what I like because I have found a way to love the things I do. I deliberately choose to get interested in the things I attend to or “have to do” as you said. It all relates to being engaged and becoming an actor of our lives, our choices. That makes THE difference. Very happy to know you are on that road and thanks for subscribing to my blog, it means a lot 😉

    1. It’s my pleasure! Thank you for taking your time to read my post and to share your thoughts! It’s awesome to interact with people. We can see so many insights about this tough wonderful world.

  6. saying that you “have” to do something does make it feel more like a chore. Something that you probably won’t enjoy and more than likely something you’re being told to do aka taking away our autonomy. Love the idea of changing our own attitudes towards this and in the process making ourselves happier!

  7. Interesting post 🙂 Lately I’ve been trying to change “I need/have to” into “I choose to.” In the end it accomplishes the same thing but it puts me in control. I am influenced by needs like hunger and paychecks, but they are not what makes me take action: I make me take action. It’s a small change but it helps me feel like the acting force in my life and like I’m not just an animal responding to stimuli.

    1. Thank you! Yes, it’s very important for us to get back on this dragon called life and ride it the way we want, not the other way around.

  8. i’ve noticed a similar phenomenon. “I have to” translates to “i should” and should is never good. it generally leads to negative self-talk, paralysis, and an amping of both my feelings of anxiety and my sense that i’m a failure. i’ve started trying to replace the phrase with “i get to”. it makes me a little grateful for the opportunity i’m being given, and that helps keep the hard feelings at bay.

    1. It’s an interesting approach and I totally agree with you! Using “I get to” can bring some gratitude into the things we’re doing.

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