“Listen to your needs and desires. Meet them with tenderness and grace.”
Are your self-care practices ‘top heavy’?
Mine have been, up until recently. I used to notice I was feeling off, then thought about what I could do for a break. Or I’d have a stretch of time to myself and wonder how I would fill it with some kind of self-care-ish type of activity. In either case, I was guided by my thoughts about what to do. I was practicing ‘heads up’ or ‘top heavy’ self-care.
Now I know that for self-care to truly work for me and be worth my time and effort, it needs to be ‘inside-out’ or ‘self-sourced’ or ‘heart-centred’. In other words, I need to take into account the needs of my whole Self.
I notice what’s going on for me, name the unique needs at the root of my experience and respond in ways that best nurture those needs.
Step 1 – Notice
The first step is to pause and take note of what you are experiencing.
What’s the ‘outer’ experience that you are sensing with your 5 senses or envisioning in your mind?
Ex. I see the sun is setting and that I didn’t get all of today’s work done yet . . . I hear the boisterous family being loud and silly . . .
Also, what’s the ‘inner’ experience that you are feeling?
Ex. I am feeling negative or unhelpful feelings, like guilt, sadness, worry, anger, etc. I am feeling positive or helpful feelings, like courage, acceptance, love, joy, peace etc.
Step 2 – Needs
Here’s the step that most of us miss – but that’s the most important.
Considering what you are sensing and feeling, what do you really need?
You can take your best guess, or I recommend looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the Centre for Non-Violent Communications Needs Inventory to accurately name the one or two needs that are causing your feelings.
Ex. I need financial security which is why I’m worrying about not finishing my work yet. I need space which is why I’m feeling irritable about the family’s noise.
Step 3 – Nurture
Now it’s time to do something with what you’ve learned – the self-care part. The aim is to figure out ways to nurture the need that you’ve identified. In attempting to meet that need, you will relieve your feelings and truly nurture yourself. Be sure to consider both ‘the doing’ (behaviours, actions) and ‘the being’ (presence, allowing, listening, resting) in your response.
What can I ‘do’ to nurture my need(s)?
Ex. I will finish my priority task tonight, spend an extra hour tomorrow to catch up, and my finances will not be affected. I will go out for a walk so that I can have some space, and my family can keep having fun.
How can I ‘be’ to nurture my need(s)?
Ex. I will listen to my unhelpful thoughts about money and work through the process of shifting my mindset. I will allow and release my feelings of frustration around being physically isolated.
Making a regular practice of Noticing, Naming and Nurturing your needs will ensure your heart-centred self-care truly works for you. Simply moving through these steps before you get out of bed in the morning or anytime during your day will make all the difference to showing yourself the care and compassion that your heart, body, mind and spirit deserve!