Schedule in Your NeedsJanuary 25, 2023
Systemic ResilienceFebruary 8, 2023
Taking care of yourself can be simple, pour a glass of water and then actually drink it. Many times, this requires no communication with anyone else. Other times though your need will interfere with someone else’s want. You pour a glass of water and then you are interrupted. It is at these times that you have to speak up for yourself.
This blog series started with you paying attention to your needs by asking about yourself in the third person, “what does _________________ (insert your name here) need?” The following blogs asked how you make room for those needs in your physical space and your schedule. As you become more aware of your needs there will be times that you need to speak up for them. Are you comfortable communicating your needs to others?
I am not referring to long impassioned conversations, I am suggesting simple statements based on your need. What about that glass of water? “I can help you once I’ve had a few minutes to drink this water and go over my calendar.” “Right now, I need to drink this water and head out for my workout, I will get back to you in an hour.” “Hang on, let me get a water bottle and we can go.” This requires you to keep your need in mind, to consider the incoming request, and to prioritize. That water is your need – it deserves just as much attention as anyone else’s need or want. Letting people know about your need is vital.
People can’t read your mind. A friend of mine was not used to including her needs in her day. It took some encouragement for her to start to name her needs out loud. She was surprised to find that the most common response was, “oh, ok.” Other times she found she was setting the example, people’s response was “Good idea, I need to do that too.” If you are not used to advocating for yourself you may find yourself explaining, in more detail than is needed, why you need to meet this need. My suggestion is to state your needs simply and consistently.
But I have children! This calls for even simpler and more consistent messaging. “Sorry, I can’t play right now, I need to… eat my food… use the bathroom… drink my coffee.” Or, “I will help you after I …” Sometimes kids will solve their own problems while you are taking care of yourself. What if you are in an argument? Even more important to stop and tune into yourself! “Whew, hang on. I am way more upset than I want to be. I need to calm down and then we can talk.” (When my daughter was a teen that conversation shortened to “do you want to talk to me while I am in this mood?” That was our signal to separate, calm down and reengage after everyone’s basic needs were met.)
What if your needs are being eclipsed by a difficult stage in life – your child is a newborn, your spouse is recovering from surgery, you are on a deadline at work? These are times when it is hard to squeeze in the most basic of your needs, and yet they are still important. You can get by for a while on bare minimum, but it is not a workable long-term strategy. If the difficult stage goes on for very long, asking for help is vital.
It is your first responsibility to take care of yourself. I hope that you have gotten into the habit of checking in with yourself. As you work to fit your needs into your space and your schedule there will be times when you must speak up for them. This process: check in with yourself, have what you need at hand, make time for you, and let people know creates a more nurturing environment for you to be you. The world needs this. We need you, the helpers, healers, and advocates of this world, to be healthy and whole. Make it a habit to speak up for yourself. It is vital.
Laura A. Gaines