You have your preferences – I have mine. We would all like the world to be a certain way. If we just left it at that, there would be no problem. Unfortunately, though, we often go beyond wanting. We turn desires into needs. Preferences become musts, and guidelines become unbending rules. This process of turning wants into need is called demanding.
What Is Demanding?
Demanding is a way of thinking – with two variations: ‘moralising’ and ‘musturbation’:
Moralising refers to the way humans turn guidelines (which may be perfectly reasonable and helpful) into absolute requirements. When we say that something ‘should’ or ‘ought’ to be a certain way, it implies that there is a ‘Law of the Universe’ which humans should never fail to observe. Moralising often leads to people-rating: when we or others do not behave as we ‘ought to’, this means we are bad, immoral or evil people.
Musturbation is taking a want or desire and turning it into an absolute need or must. We think that because we want to be liked, therefore we must be liked; or because we want to avoid pain, therefore we must avoid it at all costs. Catastrophising usually goes along with musts – we believe that it would be awful or intolerable if our ‘needs’ were not met.
Demands are exaggerated preferences
Rules and wants are an everyday fact of life. They can be helpful or unhelpful. A particular ‘rule for living’ may be relevant to our current circumstances – or it may be out of date. A want can be achievable, or impossible. Whether or not our rules and wants are appropriate, though, they are unlikely to do us any harm if we hold them as preferences.
The problem is, we often inflate our preferences into needs. Because we want the world to be a certain way, it should be so. If we desire something, then we must have it. This is the heart of demanding – the exaggeration of a preference into a necessity.