Missed the first post in the series on Self Care? Check it out here:
What is Self Care? Stop Surviving, Start Thriving – Part 1
I am jumping into this week feeling more rested than usual after a relaxing weekend camping with my husband and daughter. For me there is nothing like getting out in nature to refresh my perspective on life! While I thoroughly enjoyed our short time away, I returned with a new appreciation for air conditioning, comfy beds, and NOT sharing a small space sleeping with a wiggly toddler!
Before we dive into today’s topic, let’s review the definition of self care that was introduced in last week’s post:
- Recognizing that you have a need.
- Discovering what that need is.
- Taking responsibility for making sure that need is met.
The Principle of Creating Space is the place where you give yourself space to recognize a need and then discover what that need is and how to respond to it. It sets the stage for the journey into what self care is to you in the present moment. It’s the foundation that you will return to in the cycle of self care. What constitutes self care in your life is an ever changing application depending on your current needs. Before we delve more into ways of creating space, let’s explore the topic of needs.
RECOGNIZE THAT YOU HAVE A NEED
Human need. It’s an interesting dichotomy, isn’t it? Our culture focuses so highly on perfection from airbrushed bodies in magazines to presenting the perfect snapshot of a person’s life on social media. You’re expected to be the perfect businessperson, the perfect husband, the perfect mom, the perfect friend, or the perfect current: fill-in-the-blank. Perfection demands a standard that is unreachable if you have a need. The perspective that often follows is: having a need equals being weak. Weakness is a natural part of human life; it is part of what makes us human instead of a robot with all the personality and charisma of a computer. Think about it this way, do you judge yourself for needing to eat? Nutrition is a necessary part of life, not a weakness that needs to be eradicated. Other needs are the same. Give yourself permission to embrace the real you complete with your strengths, weaknesses, and needs! Be in the pursuit of excellence, not perfection. Excellence can only be achieved through recognizing and meeting needs.
Needs, like people, are unique. They will look like different things at different times to different people. Some of those needs can be:
…a need for rest
…a need for alone time
…a need for human interaction
…a need for stability
…a need for spiritual connection
…a need for physical nourishment
…a need for________________
…a need for coffee (the struggle is real folks!)
Does adding coffee to the list seem a little facetious in the middle of many other seemingly more important needs? Maybe so, but read on!
PRACTICAL STEPS TO CREATE SPACE
The practical steps below are ways that you can learn to hear the inner need, respond to the feeling of need, and create a space of safety for that need to be met.
- Schedule Time
Start by consciously setting aside time for yourself. I usually aim for about half an hour but if that feels overwhelming start with 15 minutes. Don’t sell yourself short by thinking that you will just happen to find time in your day. If you’re like me, just happening to find time was what got me to where I was in the first place! I recommend planning time first thing in the morning regardless if you are a morning person or not. Your goal is to establish a precedence that you are giving your best and freshest moments of the day to self care before the busyness of the day takes over. By taking care of yourself you will be able to give your best to those around you. As you learn to hear and respond to your inner need you may find the time changes, but this is a great way to establish a habit.
- Eliminate Distractions
Turn off your phone and step away from your computer! Find a separate room away from people or get outside in nature; whatever you need to eliminate distractions. I get up early in the morning before my husband and daughter are awake and my clients (at least those in this time zone!) are not even contacting me yet. This way I can avoid the mental distraction of wondering what messages I’m missing.
- Be Present
Being present is about being mindful and living in the moment. When I first started the practice of self care I had no idea what I needed. I would literally sit on my back deck in the early mornings with an empty journal and a cup of coffee and just stare at the tree line in our back yard. The coffee because it was something I knew I needed. The journal because I was hoping that I would miraculously realize my needs, write a list, and return to my normal program with a functional outline to apply. But it wasn’t that east! Initially I had nothing to say and not one action item to add to my list. After a few days of this, I started noticing the way the early mist shimmered when the sun hit, the smell of the jasmine bushes that were blooming by the fence, the way the air felt as the sun warmed it. I was no longer stuck on the events of yesterday or my schedule later that day. I started being present. When I learned to be present I began to rest in that space, and in the space that the rest created I learned to ask questions and listen for answers. The voice of my inner needs that I had unconsciously shut down for so long had a lot to say when we became re-acquainted!
- Write it Down
One of the best tools that I have found for creating space to discover and respond to needs has been journaling. I learned the concept of this type of journaling from Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way”. This book had huge impact on my life and is one that I highly recommend. She starts every day with what she calls the Morning Pages which she defines as:
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages… They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.” – http://juliacameronlive.com/
After you have written your pages read back over them and use a highlighter or pen to underline needs that you find. Morning pages become both the question and the answer. Sometimes they sound silly or trite and I’m glad no one else is reading them! Sometimes they are about owning a feeling or need by putting it down in words on the page. Some days you will have what feels like a huge revelation staring back at you from the pages as I did earlier this week. Often when I first sit down to write them I’ll have a need that I feel but can’t quite put a finger on. By the time I’m done the answer is suddenly on page and I can take steps large or small to begin meeting those needs.
The point is to make a commitment to acknowledge and respond to any need that came up, no matter how large or small. What are some of the needs that came up in your list? Come back next week for the next principle of self care as a creative entrepreneur!