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!
This video below is showing a woman ask the inmates to step forward if they answered YES to any of the 10 ACEs Questions. You see the correlation of that quiz with criminal behavior. As you know, I answered YES to ALL 10 Questions. This was the path my life was on. At 15 I was arrested for the first time and taken to Juvenile Hall. At 18 I was arrested again and taken to jail. At 19 I became pregnant and the fear of repeating the abuse that I was subjected to to my unborn child made me passionate about transforming my life so that my son would not have to live what I did. It’s been a VERY long journey to heal and I am still on it.
Determine Needs: Advice.theshineapp.com