Unhealthy Needs (Dysfunctional Needs): Part 2.
If you haven’t read Part 1, please go back and check it out. It will help your perspective as you digest the next in this important series.
In this post I want to talk about what I refer to as “Unhealthy Needs” or “Dysfunctional needs. That means having needs that are not in our best interest. And as I’ve said. we ALL have them! However, if we look carefully, some of the needs we have can fall into both categories: HEALTHY as well as UNHEALTHY. Some needs can slip from HEALTHY to UNHEALTHY within minutes.
Ok, let’s look at my favorite example:
LOVE WINE! There, I said it. Well, that’s not so bad you might say. And you would be correct … depending. Red wine has been shown to have many beneficial and healthy characteristics. Red wine has compounds called polyphenols, which are wonderful antioxidants … that is they helps to cleanse the body of those nasty chemical bits called “free radicals”. (These are the by-products of metabolizing some of the things we eat … good or bad). Additionally, recent studies have shown that alcohol is a destresser. It relaxes us and reduces the toxic stress hormones running around our bloodstream. This is a very good thing.
Let’s suppose I come home from a particularly stressful day at work. What I like to do (as do many) is to pour myself a glass of chilled Rose, put my feet up and relax. This is a good thing … both psychologically s well as physically. I’m meeting a HEALTHY need in a HEALTHY way (prohibitionists not withstanding). In this case, the wine doesn’t fall into the category of unhealthy needs.
… and it continues …
Now suppose, my day was particularly tough and I finish my glass and pour another. Ok, still not too bad … I’m still in the realm of “moderation” (by my definition). The need to consume a 2nd glass of wine is still a HEALTHY need (arguably by some … and definitely subjective … but let’s move on).
Now … let’s suppose I finish the 2nd, pour a 3rd and/or 4th, and then find myself staring at an empty bottle. At this point, I don’t think many would argue that I’ve crossed over into “UNHEALTHY NEED” territory. The reasons for drinking past 1 or 2 glasses and seeking to avoid reality are very different. It’s possible I need to escape the problems awaiting me, or maybe there’s another person in my life who I need to distance myself from. I might just be swimming in that Egyptian river and really not wanting to get out … I just might be in De-Nile 😉
In such a case, I can definitely say I have an UNHEALTHY or DYSFUNCTIONAL need and I’m seeking to get it met by numbing myself in alcohol.
If I recognize my pattern as unhealthy (a pile of empty wine bottles in the bin?) and then decide to make a change for the better, then I can start to shift or move from away the unhealthy need. It might be entirely possible that I must stop all wine consumption in order to break the habit (ugh). But whatever the unhealthy need is, it’s my responsibility to recognize it for what it is and to make a change if I want to improve my life. and my health.