Why is it that we can prioritize other’s needs, our work, and other obligations before our own needs? Many of us have learned that to be valuable we must be productive, and to be productive, we must be “busy.” I hear these statements all of the time: “I’m too busy for the gym, I’m too busy to hang out with my friends, I’m too busy to cook, I’m too busy to read.” Or maybe there are life goals you’d like to accomplish but you are “too busy” for those as well.
Every time you don’t listen to your needs, a little piece of you dies. A little piece of you learns that you don’t matter, your needs don’t matter, and that life is full of “shoulds” and “musts” instead of “I want to’s!” When our lives are filled with “should” we can experience sadness and even depression. Withholding your needs and prioritizing “shoulds” is a recipe for pain and suffering.
You might say, “But everyone I know puts aside their needs to do what they are supposed to do!” Guess what, just because it is the norm, does not mean it is healthy. The point is, many of us are trained from early on to turn down the volume on our own needs. Our inner voice gets softer and softer with time until it is completely drowned out beneath the “shoulds and musts.”
We can start honoring our needs and tuning into our bigger visions for ourselves by starting small. The word “self-care” is a buzz word these days. But what does self-care actually look like? To me, self-care is listening to your needs and honoring them. Self-care is different for everyone based on their own individual needs. My self-care sometimes looks like asking for help, rescheduling a meeting, taking a walk, or making sure I connect with a friend. It looks different based on my needs at the time.
Every time you listen to what your needs are, and you honor them, you are telling yourself that YOU MATTER and YOUR NEEDS MATTER. You start to learn you are capable of caring for yourself. The act of caring for yourself is using actions to show yourself that you are valuable and your needs deserve to be respected.
Another important piece to think about is what happens when your busy, other-serving, yes-to-everything-saying train breaks down. Because it will break down. Guess what? All the stuff you convinced yourself was more important than your own well-being, all of it falls completely apart.
You see when we don’t value ourselves first, we are inevitably let down by the things we based our value on. If you lose your job after spending years working 12-hour days, you lose the thing you based your value on, and consequently, you lose yourself. Our own self-worth is our only constant. If you are not filling yourself up first, you will eventually have nothing to give. Maybe not now. Maybe not a month from now, but at some point, you will have nothing to give and it won’t be pretty.
I hope you take time to reflect on this message and start thinking about the ways you can tune into your needs and honor them. Think about starting small and then working your way up. Maybe today your self-care looks like allowing yourself to rest, or calling a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Or maybe you are ready for an even bigger act of self-care, such as leaving a job you can’t stand, or finally booking that trip to your dream travel destination.
Whatever your self-care looks like, I hope you start today by honoring your needs and turning down the volume on all of the “shoulds” in your life. Remember, by honoring your needs, you are sending yourself the message that you are valuable and your needs are worthy of respect.
Please feel free to leave a comment and share one thing you can do to honor your needs.
Thank-you for getting Vulnerable with me!