First things first we need to establish ONE thing: WE ALL HAVE NEEDS!
There, I said it.
I read somewhere that pretending you don’t have needs is a trauma response… Let’s think about this one for a bit. It certainly stopped me in my tracks!
Like all living beings, at a VERY basic level we have biological needs. On top of that we have emotional and psychological needs that are roughly the same across the board, but can also vary from person to person. For example at a biological level we have the need for food. At a psychological level the need for friends or intimate relationships. On a more personal level, each of you reading this post may have different needs based on who you are and your individual circumstances.
So I would like to pose some questions:
How much of your day is about meeting external goals, responsibilities and expectations?
And how much of your day do you devote to meeting your own personal, physical, psychological and emotional needs?
Are you even aware of your own needs?
When was the last time you asked yourself “what do I need today”?
And if you did that, did you actually honour that need, or did you put it in the backburner in order to meet some external obligation?
These can be some hard questions to answer. Most of us plan our day around what “we have to do” or what “we have to achieve”. Naturally, our to-do lists are never ending and we are inevitably caught in a continuous marathon gasping for breath and running ourselves thin (see the pun there?)… Or, if we are geared towards meeting the needs and wants of other people, we may be ignoring our own. This can transform into a strong urge to
“people-please”; a state where we almost always strive to please others at the cost of respecting our own boundaries, needs or desires. People pleasing can be rather addictive and the price we pay for it is usually very high. I will elaborate more on people pleasing in another post, so stay tuned.
The truth is that there will always be things we need to do (or we THINK we need to do). There will always be deadlines, some more pressing than others. But as we are caught up in the midst of all the things we have to tick off the list we forget that we are here too.
We are actually living those moments as they unravel. And if we don’t start paying attention to our own needs we may end up starving and feeling depleted… And that will almost certainly have a knock-on effect on our behaviour and relationships with others.
Hopefully this post has made apparent that we need to shift gears and start acknowledging that meeting our needs is an essential element of self-care and it will actually benefit everyone else around us too. My therapist likes to remind me that even in an intimate relationship I should be meeting 75% of my needs by myself and my partner should only “help” me with the remaining 25%. Of course these figures do not represent hard and fast rules, but they give you an idea of how much we should aim to stand on our own two feet in regards to owning and honouring our needs.
How will you start meeting your own needs starting today?