Reality Check: Reflections from the Storm

In these posts, I’ve often mentioned power as one of our basic needs. The power I refer to is the need to feel that we are recognized and have value.
However, when we had “a bit of a blow” here on the east coast recently, another type of power rose to top of the mind for many of us. For a while, the electrical grid that we take for granted grabbed our attention. As with so many things that we grow accustomed to having, we don’t pay it much mind till it’s gone.
Life changes when the power, the phones, and the internet disappear for a while. Depending on your situation, that change may have caused real hardship, or it may have just been an inconvenience. Either way, you probably ended up spending at least some of your time somewhat differently than you normally do.
This recent experience led me to think about needs from a choice theory perspective. I came up with the following three observations.
1. Priorities and the survival need: Dr. Glasser had suggested that there are five basic human needs: security/survival, power, fun, freedom, and love/belonging. While we have different levels of each need, when our fundamental survival seems threatened, the other needs recede into the background.
Survival isn’t limited to the need to breathe, eat, drink, stay warm and sheltered. If we perceive that there are threats to our belongings, our households, our possessions, our way of life, our survival might go unsatisfied. That need for survival is a powerful force.
2. The use of time: Without our usual conveniences, basic functions take more time. Consider food preparation. If you’re without microwave, stove, fridge, you need to plan more to ensure there’s edible, safe food. Without plentiful hot water, basic activities of cleaning, cooking, and bathing become more inconvenient and time-consuming.
When we need to spend more time on these fundamental activities, there’s less time available for other activities, like satisfying our need for fun, for example. On the other hand, if you choose to look at the whole thing as an adventure, you can still satisfy your need for fun. In some ways, whether we look at time as wasted or well-spent depends on the attitude we take toward our actions.
3. That need to belong: We like to know that we are not alone. It’s a lot more uncomfortable to think that you are the only one without power, water, phone or other essentials than when you know that there are thousands of others who share your situation.
It’s reassuring and comforting to know that we are not the only one. We’re not going to be forgotten because we’re part of a group. Even if it’s a group joined together in a miserable circumstance, at least we’re not alone. For many, that knowledge is an essential need satisfier.
As we go along in our lives, it’s common to take things, and people, for granted. Even when we know better, it’s easy to assume that things will always be as they are right now.
One way of looking at the temporary loss of something important, such as power, is to view it as a gift. We can use the loss as a reminder and take it as an opportunity to fully appreciate it when it’s restored.
Taking it further, we can also use small losses as reminders to more fully appreciate what’s valuable—people and things—in our lives.
All that said, this outage was plenty for me. I don’t need any more reminders, thank you. Now I’ll go wash my hands in the luxurious hot water that flows on demand from the tap. And I’ll remember to remain grateful for that.
Has a storm or power loss given you any new perspectives?

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