The Greatest Gift you can Give Yourself
The greatest gift you can give yourself is learning how to nurture yourself, how to give yourself what you need, and how to not feel guilty about it. This is not to say you shouldn’t nurture others and allow others to nurture you, but building a foundation of self care, where you take responsibility for meeting your own needs is the strongest foundation you can have. Nurturing your friends and family by supporting them to meet their needs is the strongest foundation on which to build relationships.
It’s easier to accept these words than to live them, so as promised here are some tips to get you started.
1 Set Boundaries
Boundaries come in all areas of life but it makes sense to begin setting boundaries wherever you need to most. For some people the most important place to start is in relationships. This might be relationships in general or in one to two specific relationships. Where do you feel that you need to shore up your boundaries? Are you able to negotiate a fairer boundary so that the relationship (or relationships), can continue but in a more reasonable way?
Other types of boundaries relate to time and space. Everyone needs balance in their life because everyone has a number of different needs to meet: survival, love and belonging, fun, freedom, power. Although some needs will be more important to you than others, if you spend too much time on one need and neglect others it will not be sustainable. If you allow yourself to become a workaholic for example, you may be meeting your power needs but you will have little freedom or fun, and your health will inevitably suffer which will impact your survival needs. If you would like to learn more about your specific needs.
If you would like to read more about needs and what your needs profile is you can download a questionnaire here
2 Cultivate Self Awareness
The better you know yourself the more effectively you will be able to nurture yourself . Invest some time in understanding your needs, your perspectives and your ideas about what brings you happiness (your Quality World Pictures). Observe your thoughts, challenge thoughts that don’t serve you and replace them with thoughts that do. Work on cultivating a growth mindset.
3 Invest time in Relationships and Relaxation
Needs that are most often neglected are love and belonging, fun and freedom. If you don’t prioritize meeting these needs you can easily sacrifice them for power and survival needs (work and money). You might get away with this for a while but it will catch up with you. Don’t wait for other people to force you to take a break or until you are so burned out that you have no choice. Life should be joyful but there is little chance of achieving a joyful life if you don’t create areas of relaxation, fun and connection with other people that you enjoy. Creating a balanced life is not frivolous it is fundamental.
4 Find Work that is Meaningful and Enjoyable
Life is too short and too precious to spend too long doing work that is unenjoyable and unrewarding. You might not be able to throw in a job that is not meeting your needs right away but you can plan an exit strategy. Alternatively you could work on yourself and on your job so that you are a better fit for each other.
Your needs will stay the same throughout your life but how well they are being met and the way you meet them don’t need to. Thankfully you are no longer confined to the career you decided on when you finished your formal education. As you become more self-aware and as you grow and develop, your potential for making a living in ways that successfully meet a number of your needs is far more likely than when you first entered the job market.
5 Let go of what you Can’t Control
The only thing that you can control is you. You can control your thoughts and your actions. That is about it and that is enough, especially when you consider that many people don’t even do that. Letting go of what you can’t control is challenging but it is more painful to invest your time and energy in things you can’t control. Fortunately however, there is usually something you can do about most situations. Take Covid for example, you can’t do anything about the pandemic, or the restrictions, but there is a great deal you can do about how you respond. You can stay connected to loved ones via video calls, you can begin an exercise regime you love, you can start a new hobby, and possibly the most valuable thing you can do is train yourself to be optimistic. The idea isn’t to do nothing but that you focus on what you can control, which is always your response.
If your thoughts and actions are in line with what you want in life then you have a good chance of achieving your goals. If despite all your work you can’t achieve your goals there is no shame in resetting them. Continuing to chase the unattainable is probably not going to meet your needs, but if you have given a goal your very best shot there is bound to be something that has come out of all that work that you can channel your aspirations into.
Self-care is about so much more than a healthy diet, exercise, getting enough sleep and the odd meditation. Of course all those things contribute to self care but they are just some of the tools you can use to meet your needs. Understanding your needs and how you can arrange your life in order to meet your specific needs profile is the crux of nurturing yourself. If you would like to learn more about how you can do this click here and download your very own needs profile questionnaire.