One year ago I sat down for the first time with a cognitive behavioral therapist. After taking a history of my life she said to me, “ it’s clear to me that you have learned to deny and neglect your own needs.”
I was completely confused. “I know my needs: food, shelter, clothing, water. The basics, right?” Those were the needs I was told growing up.
“Not exactly. We’ll talk about that in our next session. Lori, getting therapy is going to be the best gift you give yourself this year”
I thanked her and left, but my mind kept trying to figure out exactly what she meant by my needs. What could they be?
I went home and googled it since I was really unsure. After all, I see so much on social media about self-care/love. Am I missing something?
I had the idea, “Maybe it has something to do with figuring out why we are acting like crying babies.” I grew up being taught not to respond to a baby’s cry otherwise you will spoil them and that a baby needs to learn how to self-soothe. Clearly, that was poor information. Perhaps this is where I first learned to deny/ignore my own needs.
Instead of ignoring the cries, figure out why the baby is crying. play the art of elimination game. Is the baby… aka…are YOU…. 🙂 🙂
hungry or thirsty
fed too much so gassy and bloated – digestive discomfort
consumed foods that create digestive upset- gas, bloat, constipation
tired and need a nap
need to go to the bathroom, need a diaper change
need a bath
Uncomfortable clothing/shoes – hot or cold, scratchy fabric, non-breathable, tight, leaving red marks, uncomfortable
need a change of environment – get outside in the fresh air and sunshine
need to move, stretch, burn off energy
need comforting connection: cuddles, soothing sounds, rocking, touch, skin to skin contact
in pain, rashes, sores, infections, aches or injuries, sick, fever, congested, swollen areas/inflammation
Then I researched “deny my own needs” and found articles stating that it means putting the needs of others before my own goals and dreams or people-pleasing. My initial response was, “Well, of course, I’ve been a mother for so long. Isn’t that somewhat normal?”Not exactly.
I remember telling a friend about a situation where I accommodated the needs of a romantic partner that I was struggling with and the relationship was on and off. I thought she would congratulate me on my kind efforts towards him and instead, she replied, “That’s great that you tended to his needs Lori, but what about yours? Did you even consider your own?” I was baffled and confused. I didn’t even know what I wanted or needed. Clearly, I was out of touch and although the crying baby analogy was a good one, there was more.
In one of the articles I read, it said if you are out of touch with your own needs that you can ask your body, take an inventory of your environment and mental state, and then lastly ask those who are closest to you what they think that you need. The last one I was most resistant to, but I admit that it seems that what might be the most important need is blind to us and yet so obvious to others who love us.
BODY: Ask your body what it needs (much like the crying baby analogy) How do I feel? An adrenaline rush, overheated, hungry, cold, thirsty, etc.? I asked myself questions from the baby crying list above.
SENSES/ENVIRONMENT: Sensate Focusing: Do I or does my environment: smell good, taste good, look good, feel good, sound good? Declutter, clean, organize, beautify, comfort
MIND: silence, declutter, clarity, dreams, intentions, focus, act on those habits, meditation, journaling to flush chaos and negativity out
OTHERS: Ask others what they think you need
LIST OF NEEDS: The Center for Nonviolent Communication “needs inventory” list and it blew my mind. Apparently, I had many unmet needs. I wrote down my list from the inventory and felt overwhelmed by how many were unfulfilled. It made complete sense that it correlated to the list of feelings that would be expressed if the needs weren’t met. I was able to reflect on where I was in my life and what I was doing when I felt the most vibrant and alive. It was clear that my needs were being met.
There is an exercise that states when you aren’t feeling good to look at the list of needs and write down any of the needs that are currently unmet and to tend to them. Now that I am aware of this, my intention is to dedicate the next year to fulfilling my needs so that I am a happier and healthier human on the planet.
Let’s see how this all goes…. I have the feeling it’s going to be pretty amazing.
If any of this resonates with you, feel free to comment below and share your story. Sending you lots of love… see you next week!
2020 affected people all over the entire planet whether positively or negatively or perhaps a combination of the two, but we are now embarking on a new year and it’s time to shed what is no longer serving us so that we may move forward and enjoy a beautiful new year with nothing holding us back.
We have the tendency to accumulate whether it be physical belongings in our homes, unresolved negative experiences and emotions, excess body fat and toxicity, negative unintentional thoughts and conversations, poor habits of relating, living in the past, old dreams that we are holding onto, and unhealed past experiences. Or perhaps, we are in the future missing out on the present moment. If we aren’t mindful of letting it go we can find that all aspects of waste can accumulate without us even realizing it. Basically, we feel, think, act, look, and live like crap. And what is crap? Waste that is no longer serving us.
Sadly, that can leave us feeling stuck, depleted, burdened, and negative. We hold back from loving and living our dreams fully. When we take the time to intentionally let it all go what we feel, think, act, look, and live like is pure joy. Love, ease, gratitude, fulfillment, meaning are buried underneath it all.
I am personally challenging myself to invest the next 4 weeks wisely by cleaning the slate and I want to inspire you to join me. We deserve to experience the fullness of life without regrets or excess baggage weighing us down.
This challenge begins at the new moon in January which is today and it ends at the Lunar New Year which this year is February 12th.
I am cleaning the slate in 5 categories of my life but the options are unlimited. Feel free to customize this challenge to your specific needs.
Body – there are countless ways that you can do this, from how you eat and drink, move your body, sweat it out, and so forth. I will be doing a combination of fasting and plant-based foods. You can fast like the Master Cleanse or juice, do a green smoothie cleanse, eat only raw foods, eat plants cooked or raw, or any other variation that feels good to you at this time based on your own needs. Maybe you add healing herbs or simply stop eating when the sun goes down and fast for 12-16 hours from dinner to breakfast every day. The options are limitless. Use your intuition and gut instincts and follow the path that lights you up. It can be a blend that you customize for yourself.
Environment – our homes are our own personal wellness sanctuaries. It is the place that we heal, rest, rejuvenate, and relax before going back out into the world. It is our safe haven. However, it can easily become cluttered whether with old papers, books, music, movies, and other media. It can be filled with old clothing, toiletries, makeup, accessories that we no longer use or love. Maybe you have a pantry filled with expired food and ingredients. Perhaps you have momentos and photos stuffed in a box somewhere that you have been meaning to go through. Take this time to go through your home and let go of items that 1. you have not used in the past year. Donate it to someone who can use it now 2. Do not spark joy, but perhaps have negative emotions attached to them. Look through your home and if it doesn’t light up your face with a smile, consider letting it go. Keep only the items that have a loving memory for you. You may be inspired by minimalism or perhaps Marie Kondo’s method. I personally love those two combinations along with green, non-toxic cleaning. Consider sage to cleanse the energy in your home as well.
Energy – our thoughts and our emotions are things. We emit them with our facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, the words we use, and the actions we take. My favorite forms of cleaning my energy are through talk therapy, meditation, vipassana (silence), I’ll never forget the saying, “Wise people speak because they have something to say, foolish people, speak just to say something.” Taking the time to be silent, simply listen, observe can help you be more selective and intentional with the words that you speak. Consider the media that you listen to as well, the news, the lyrics to songs, the things you read, the conversations you have, and so forth. Transformational breath. I have used many many methods over the past 20 years and my favorite is the work of Dr. Emoto and the book Power vs Force specifically reading the levels of consciousness and allowing myself to raise my energy. Gratitude journaling has also been a daily habit for about 15 years.
Relationships – We have all heard the saying that we are a combination of the 5 people that we spend most of our time with. When I heard this, I really reflected on the quality of my relationships. I actually stopped spending time with 90% of the people I was around. At times I was lonely, but I filled the time listening to the 5 people I wanted to be most like from their audiobooks, podcasts, talks, workshops, and so forth. At the time it was people like Wayne Dyer, Jerry, and Esther Hicks, Tony Robbins, Oprah, and of course the great ones like Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, the Dalai Lama. They were people who wanted to inspire people, to uplift them, to be contributors to the goodness in the world, to help improve the quality of life. I wanted to be like them. However, I also adopted healing my valuable relationships with forgiveness with Ho’oponopono, The Work by Byron Katie, the story of the Babemba Tribe by the Peace Pilgrim told by Wayne Dyer. There are again unlimited ways to heal your relationships or simply to let them go temporarily or permanently. My belief is that if you only have love, respect, appreciation, and gratitude for them then you have healed your relationships. If there is any negativity, take this time to clean it up. Often it comes from a shift in our perspective. When you can say this wholeheartedly you have fully healed your relationships. “ I leave you free to be yourself, think your thoughts, indulge your tastes, follow your inclinations, and behave in ways that you decide are to your liking. Do anything you need or want to do. Be however you need to be and I will selectively sift the specific components of you that resonate with me and I will practice them until it becomes my proclivity. It really isn’t any of my business what you do. It is my business to find things in you that please me. For what I do not like in you, is only pointing out the unclean aspect of myself. Ultimately, It’s up to me to rise up and become that which I am admiring in you and to let go within myself of that which I don’t. “
Dreams/Vision – Perhaps you have old dreams that were never fulfilled and you are holding onto the past feeling regret. I want to inspire you to let go of who you once were and dream a new dream for yourself. Maybe just for the year, or possibly even your life. I love how Stephen Covey has you reverse engineer your life by saying, “Begin with the End in Mind” meaning that imagine what you want to be said about you at your funeral and then start to live that way now. Maybe you don’t know where to begin. I love Michael Beckwith’s Life Visioning Process. It’s simple and can help you clear out all the old stuff and get clarity on who you want to be and how you want to live. It helps you remember what you are wanting to express in this lifetime. Dream a new and more refined dream for yourself.
Of course, there are more aspects to life than this, such as work and finances, but I find that shows up secondary to the clarity of the dream and vision you have for your life. I am setting out 4 weeks to complete this challenge, but you can make it as long or as short as you want. When I first did this challenge 14 years ago it took me about 3-6 months. Nowadays I spend one weekend a month at the new moon during my cleanse to go through all of the things I have listed above. It no longer takes me much time at all and if you make this a regular habit it will be the same for you.
1. I was born 1 hour before the 4th of July 1976 making me almost an exact anniversary of a bicentennial baby.
2. Freedom and independence inspires me
3. I was born in Montclair, CA
4. I’m the middle child of 8
5. My Enneagram Personality is 7
6. My Meyers Briggs is a ENFP-T
7. If you’re into horoscopes, my sign is Cancer
8. My Chinese horoscope is a Fire Dragon
9. As a child, I loved to climb up the olive tree in my backyard to be alone, read, and journal
10. I’ve journaled since I was 7 and still do. I lost all my childhood journals and started my first blog as an online journal that couldn’t be lost
11. I love treehouses and would love to stay in them all over the world
12. I was a gymnast as a child and as an adult I enjoy aerial dance such as pole, lyra, and hammock
13. My first experience with yoga was at 15 and I fell in love. I still practice and teach to this day
14. My parents and grandparents had gardens growing up and I dream of having an edible landscape full of unique produce
15. I’ve loved cooking since I was 7 and made a goal to make every recipe in my mom’s cookbook
16. I love health and wellness thanks to my parents influence and stack of Prevention magazines I read as a child
17. I toured CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and considered attending but I didn’t see a connection to health with the food
18. I went vegan in 2007 and love making recipes that are oil free, gluten free, refined sugar free and vegan.
19. I went to summer school as a kid just for the fun of it. I still love learning and consider it a joy of life and a habit
20. As a pre-teen I became a popular babysitter, when the kids fell asleep I would deep clean and organize their homes for fun
21. Since I was a teen I loved revamping old furniture to look new again. I love a good makeover
22. I absolutely drool over neatly organized cabinets and drawers
23. I love interior design. Many times I have given room makeovers as gifts
24. I am currently redecorating my old home with the vision of creating a home wellness sanctuary
25. I love and have been snowboarding since I was 18
26. I was 20 the first time I flew on an airplane and had no idea what turbulence was and was scared we were going to crash
27. I became a mom at 20, my son Alex is now 24
28. Shortly after, I moved to Hawaii
29. 2 years later, I gave birth to Meg who was born 6 weeks early. She turns 22 next week
30. I learned to surf while living in Hawaii. I was surfing 2-3 times a week but haven’t been over the past year and I miss it
31. My earliest story of dancing was from my mom who told me when I was about 2 I went missing when we were leaving a grocery store. She saw a circle of people with a boombox. When she went to ask if they had seen me, she found me dancing in the center of the group while everyone was cheering me on.
32. I was raised Mormon, but no longer active since 17, but still am living a spiritually led life.
33. I love catching the sunrise and sunsets and see them as symbols like baptism (forgiveness) and blessings (gratitude)
34. When I was 24 and my grandfather was passing I begged him to prove his spirit lived on and 2 years later he honored his promise and came though.
35. Since then, on rare occasions I have received messages from those who have crossed over to their loved ones.
36. My first massage inspired me to go to school to become a Holistic Health Practitioner and get as many free massages as possible
37. I love warm weather and am thankful I’ve lived in Southern California, Hawaii, and Cabo
38. I love nature and National Parks. My favorite so far are Yosemite and Zion. Yellowstone is also incredible.
39. I didn’t travel much while raising my little ones, but since they have grown I’ve traveled to Vancouver, Montreal, India, Bahamas, Guatemala, Mexico: Cabo and Playa Del Carmen, Bali, Lombok, Gili Air. I hope it’s just the beginning.
40. I dream about living in a new place for 4-6 months at a time to absorb the culture and lifestyle. Places I want to visit are Fiji, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Tulum, Sayulita, Tel Aviv, Portugal, and Greece
41. Over the years I have become a low key minimalist and love it.
42. In Cabo I lived off 2 suitcases and discovered it was more than I needed. In Bali I lived off 1 backpack and one carryon and that was still more than enough.
43. I am amazed with my courage, resilience, and versatility. I am so thankful to have lived this long, to be healthy, and feel good.
44. Cheers to warm sand, cenotes, sun, fun, food, good moods, life and love
The very thing you desire is the very thing you possess. Want love? Prove that you are loving by giving love to another. Want incredible health? Show others how you heal with your example. Want great wealth? Give your best material and valuable information away and see what happens.