The Best Approach to Self-Care: How to Take Care of Your Unmet Needs

“Taking care of your mind, body and spirit is your greatest and greatest responsibility. It’s about listening to your soul’s needs and then honoring them.” ~ Kristi Ling

There’s something I haven’t told many people yet. I kept it to myself because it clashed with my “identity” and the image I was hoping to project (hello, ego!).

I have been creating content and working in the fields of spirituality and personal development for a number of years. While I don’t aspire to become like Buddha, there is a part of me (let’s call it my spiritual ego) that expects certain things from me, such as being in peace, contentment, and well regulated emotionally most of the time stay. After all, isn’t that what daily meditation is supposed to do?

Well, last year I didn’t feel as content or peaceful. I felt quite depressed and meditating rarely made me feel better.

So I turned to wine. I drank a few glasses of wine (sometimes three or even four) most nights to forget how bored and miserable I was.

“I’m a cheater,” I kept thinking as I sipped on the red liquid.

I’ve tried other things (besides wine) to feel better that have helped, like keeping a gratitude journal and spending more time in nature. Although these things improved my mood, there was still a void in me that not even gratitude could fill.

Reading an article on humanistic psychology and the use of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in therapy made me realize the real cause of my “crying habit”: unmet needs.

“What do I really need?” I started to ask myself every time the impulse to pour a glass of wine came.

At first I gave in to the wine, probably out of habit. But eventually, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a guide, I was able to identify which of my needs were not being met and what actions I needed to take to meet them.

“This is true self-care,” I thought.

I realized that there is more to a self-care plan than a checklist downloaded from Pinterest. It requires taking a life inventory, identifying our unmet needs, and taking the right actions to meet them.

Simply put, a bubble bath is not the best solution for all or every problem.

I want to share with you my new approach to self-care, which aims to meet our deepest needs rather than provide ephemeral comfort.

Step 1: Become aware of your unmet needs.

The first step is awareness. Although it is not necessary to use Maslow’s pyramid of needs to identify what we want, it does provide a helpful framework to guide our reasoning.

I recommend going through each level of the pyramid and taking the time to reflect on your life. A great way to do this is through journaling.

Below are some reflection questions for each category of needs to help you identify what’s missing in your life that may be preventing you from being successful.

physiological needs

These include basic physical needs such as eating, drinking and sleeping. Self-care at this level involves resting and fueling our bodies with the right fuel and nutrients to function optimally. You might ask:

Am I eating enough whole and nutritious food to nourish my body? Do I feel rested when I wake up in the morning? On a scale of 0-10, how high is my energy level most of the time?

Although most of us have no problem feeding ourselves, a lack of rest and nutrients is fairly common. For example, after some blood tests, I found that my iron levels were too low, which explained my low energy. After taking supplements for a few weeks I felt better.

security and security needs

Security includes income and job security, health and the environment in which we live. Questions you might ask yourself are:

Do I have enough financial resources to feed myself and feel comfortable? Do I often feel stressed and anxious? Do I have tools to help me relax? How is my physical, mental and spiritual health? Overall, do I feel safe? societal needs

These are the needs for love, acceptance, and belonging, which include friendships, romantic love and intimacy, and family life.

The emptiness I’ve felt over the past two or three years has mostly come from unmet needs in that category. Several people I knew moved away and my relationship with a partner ended. Also, after a year of isolation, I forgot how to connect with people and the idea of ​​socializing almost scared me (although that’s what I needed most).

Here are a few questions you could ask yourself to uncover unmet needs in this category:

Are there people around me I can count on? Do I feel accepted and supported by the people around me? Do I regularly contact and connect with people or do I often feel lonely? Overall, are my relationships satisfactory to me? needs appreciation

These are the needs for appreciation and respect, which include healthy self-esteem and feelings of being valued.

I worked hard to improve my self-esteem in my 20’s and early 30’s, but I can still remember the devastating effects low self-esteem had on my quality of life when I was younger. Self-esteem needs are the foundation of healthy relationships, taking care of our bodies, and pursuing our goals and dreams.

Questions you might ask yourself are:

Do I feel valued at work, at home, and in my circle of friends? Is my self-talk mostly positive or negative? Do I think I have good qualities? Do others appreciate these qualities? Overall, am I comfortable at work, at home, and in social circles? needs of self-actualization

Maslow defined self-actualization as “realizing our potential”. This includes feeling a purpose and growing and evolving as a person.

For most of my life I have had “purpose anxiety”. Today, living my purpose is one of the most important aspects of my life and what sustains me during difficult times.

Doing what we love and using our gifts for a vision we care about fuels us to overcome challenges.

You might ask:

Do I feel like my life has meaning and purpose? Does my work fulfill me? Am I using my skills and natural strengths in a way that I enjoy? Am I constantly growing and developing? needs for self-transcendence

Self-transcendence is about feeling connected to others and all of life and acting accordingly. At this level we have a desire for contribution, service and impact. The need for spiritual practice and connection with a higher power are also part of self-transcendence.

Questions you might ask yourself are:

Do I have a positive influence on others and the world? Do I feel connected to others, nature and maybe a higher power? Am I satisfied with my spiritual practice and/or the legacy I am leaving? leisure needs

I added this category to the list because I believe play is another important aspect of our well-being.

A lack of fun and laughter can have a negative impact on our mental health — at least that’s what I’ve experienced in the last few years. Aside from unmet social needs, my biggest dissatisfaction was lack of play. I had gotten too serious and had forgotten how to have fun. I couldn’t even remember the last time I laughed.

Questions you might ask yourself are:

Do I have fun at work, at home and in my free time? How often do I laugh? Step 2: Identify what needs your immediate attention.

After going through these questions, I rated each category of needs on a scale of 0 to 10, assigning 10 to the areas that required my attention the most. For me, these were leisure and social needs.

This meant that doubling up on my meditation practice or a daily green smoothie probably wouldn’t be enough to break my “wine habit.” Or rather, they weren’t what I really needed.

I needed to have more fun, laugh and play. I needed to connect more with people, have deep and meaningful conversations, and expand my social circle.

Once you’ve identified which of your needs aren’t being met, you’re ready to develop solutions.

Step 3: Think about how you can fill unmet needs.

Once we know what’s “over,” we can find ways to improve the situation.

“How can I have more fun?” I asked myself.

I’ve been thinking about the times I’ve had the most fun in the past and writing them down. I also wrote down any other ideas that came to my mind, from watching funny dog ​​videos to going to a comedy show. I made a list of ways to have more fun in my journal and made an effort to do at least a few each week.

Step 4: Choose a small action and plan it.

After brainstorming, it’s time to take action. I recommend picking and planning at least one idea from your list.

A few weeks ago I decided to do a Kundalini Yoga class followed by dinner with the teacher and classmates. It was an opportunity to meet new people.

I knew that as an introvert, the risk of canceling at the last minute was high. So I immediately bought the ticket and planned the course in my planner. I’m glad I did; I met new people, laughed and had interesting conversations.

Self-care activities are more likely to take place when we plan them.

. . .

I could wrap up this article with one question: “What do you really need?”

Taking the time to take stock of life, identify our unmet needs, and then take action to meet them—that is proper self-care.

The difficulty is that sometimes we don’t even know what we need! I find Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs a helpful tool to guide our self-reflection.

I hope it can help you too.

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