When you ignore yourself

Acknowledge your needs.

So many of us are used to placing other people’s needs and desires before our own. We’ve been conditioned that way through our family culture and our cultural norms. 

To allow ourselves to consider different ways of being, we first need to become aware of what we are doing automatically, without thinking about it. When we become aware of our automatic responses, we can then slow down and choose on purpose. 

And first, we have to know what the other options and choices are for us. We can start by asking some questions:

  • What is my automatic response to this type of situation?
  • Why do I respond this way?
  • What do I think will happen if I don’t respond the way I always do?
  • Am I willing to feel uncomfortable and do something different?  

Then we can decide what we want to explore doing instead. Some options could be:

  • “I want to think about it and get back to you tomorrow by noon.”
  • “I had plans for that time already, but I know this is important to you. Let’s see what can work for both of us.”
  • “This is urgent and I’m willing to focus my time on this instead of what I had planned.”
  • “This isn’t urgent, even though I used to make it urgent, and I want to focus on what I had planned instead.”

One thing that really made a difference for me, even though it may seem small: I used to put off going to the bathroom at work until it became urgent. Our bodies let us know when it’s urgent! But I wasn’t being very nice to my body or myself when I waited until I urgently needed to pee. It’s like I was my body’s warden and not allowing it to pee until it became an emergency. Now, when I need to pee, I go to the bathroom as soon as I feel it; or I plan ahead of time to pee before a meeting so it doesn’t become urgent. This lets my body know it can trust me to take care of its needs.

It may seem small, but it started to change things for me. I started to become aware of my own needs and asked myself, “Where else in my life am I ignoring myself by not taking care of my needs until they become urgent?”

Your turn: How do you want to respond on purpose? What might you need to change in order to recognize and acknowledge your needs more? Where in your life are you ignoring yourself by not taking care of your needs until they become urgent?

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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

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