Reality Check: Different wants for different folks

“I don’t know why you think you need all that stuff.” From his mom’s perspective, James is continuously on kijiji, eBay and buy & sell groups, looking for a deal. He’s accumulated tools, parts, gadgets of all sorts. “Why?” she wonders. It all looks like junk to her.
In recent years, I’ve been doing the opposite—making efforts to get rid of stuff. However, I don’t want to just “get rid” of it. No, no. Everything was acquired for a reason. Perhaps I needed it at the time, or it has sentimental value or intrinsic value.
You can’t just throw things away. Well, more correctly, I can’t. Perhaps you could.
However, according to choice theory, I can throw stuff away; that’s within my control. I just don’t want to. Perhaps that’s the most correct interpretation of all.
As we pass thorough different phases in our lives, different things are important to us. There are always exceptions, but see if these generalizations ring any bells for you.
Early on, when we don’t own a lot of stuff, we want to acquire. We want a house, a car, furniture, tools, gadgets, and so on. We see good deals and think “I’d like to have that!”
Later, perhaps much later, there’s a phase where we look around and say, “I have enough stuff.” Or maybe, “I have too much stuff.” And the same energy that went into acquiring is now directed toward reducing the load.
My hope is that in between those two phases, we’ve had many Goldilocks years of, “I have exactly what I want; not too much; not too little. And it’s the right stuff.”
Choice theory recognizes that different people want different things. While we have the same basic needs of love, fun, freedom, power, and survival, how we go about satisfying those needs may change over the years.
In years past, I might have satisfied a power/recognition/esteem need through acquiring an object. Now, I’m more likely to get satisfaction from successfully moving that object along to an appropriate new owner.
I know I’m not alone in that change. Whether you give an object to a museum or sell it to someone who appreciates it, there’s satisfaction when a transaction is “fitting.” A successful transaction can satisfy the need for freedom (we’re no longer burdened by an object we don’t want) power (we have the satisfaction of choosing where it goes) and even love/belonging (as we meet others who share our values about stuff.)
Dr. Glasser referred to external control essentially as attempts to get other people to do what we want them to do. He saw that as a cause of a great deal of misery in human relations.
The idea of “you should want what I want” can be relationship-destroying, whether we’re talking about a close relationship or looking on a world scale.
Different people want different things. Further, we want different things at different times, as we learn, grow, and change.
It’s easy to be critical of what others want, especially when what they want seems incomprehensible to us. What James’ mom wants is quite different from what James wants.
When I see a young person who is acquiring what I might now consider “junk,” it’s helpful to remember that they are in a different phase; they have different wants. And that is their right. Just because we don’t want something doesn’t mean that someone else “shouldn’t” want it or pursue it, as long as it’s not interfering with someone else.
So mom, I’d suggest that you hold your criticism about James’ collections. However, if he wants to store his stuff in your garage, that’s a different discussion!
Have you found that different wants are a source of conflict?

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