Giving Yourself What You Need
The Gift of the Present
The first step in the art of loving yourself is to figure out what you need from you, right now. Not tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. Likewise, don't waste time thinking about what you needed years ago, and never got. Most likely, you'll be thinking about the people in your past that let you down. The past is a ghost town and there is nothing there for you anymore. You may also be thinking about people in the future who could give you what you want or need. The future doesn't exist, yet, so there is nothing for you there, either.
What is it that you are looking for? For most of us, we are looking for some thing, person, or situation to alleviate or eliminate a nagging sense of fear. This is often a fear of the unknown, which has roots in the future. Focusing on the unknown, the future, keeps us out of our present where what is known is right in front of us! If the future can create worry or fear, what can be created in the present?
The present is a place of safety and security. It's also a place of empowerment because can we can exercise the power of choice right now. For example, right now I am typing this blog. I am thinking about the words I am choosing and I am highly focused on what I am doing right now. I'm not thinking about what I did yesterday or what I'm going to do later. Because I'm able to block out all non-existent past and future realities, I am able to be highly focused on what I am doing. I find this state of focus and concentration very empowering and rewarding.
Think about an activity or project that you became absorbed in. I think you will agree that it was a pleasant feeling that boosted your self-confidence. We all need self-confidence, right? The idea that the present is an avenue towards meeting that need is very enlightening! We often put the responsibility for feeling good about ourselves, for getting our needs met, on material things, people or situations.
When we do this, we are living in the future, in a place of unknown, in a place of fear. The fear is about not knowing when or if that need will get met. That is what the fear is about, not knowing. Nobody can know, or have control over, the future. The only place we can know or control is the present, right here and now.
Let me summarize my point this way; the unknown = future = lack of control = fear. The known = present = control through choice = security. Having a choice is one of the most empowering tools people can give themselves. Having a choice allows us to meet our own needs. Believe me, if you can learn to meet your own needs, your sense of security will grow exponentially!
Meeting Your Own Needs
We can't meet our own needs unless we know what they are. Knowing what our needs are sounds pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, most of this "knowing" is unconscious, or out of our awareness. All that we are unaware of is also unknown, and remember that the "unknown" is a place of fear. So, figuring out what we need will take some soul-searching. Soul-searching is a challenging, often painful but beautiful journey nonetheless, towards knowing.
It can be daunting, but here is how I started my journey towards knowing what I need. I asked myself what gifts or tools have been given to me naturally, at birth? Well, here they are true and simple: My five senses: vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. These five "gifts" are anchors to the present. Sometimes, I'll focus on one at a time. For example, I'll ask myself, "What are the most beautiful sights I've ever seen?"
I can come up with a million of those! I love the sight of leaves turning color in the fall. I love to look at art. I love how the night sky looks on a cloudless night especially when there is a harvest moon, or a field of sunflowers waving to me as I drive by. I love looking at a sleeping baby. More personally, seeing the city of Pittsburgh on the other side of the Fort Pitt Tunnel eastbound, at night, is an amazing vision!
Then, I'll move on to my sense of hearing. "What are the most beautiful sounds I've ever heard?" Of course there is endless, beautifully energizing or calming music. I can also get lost in the rhythmic sound of the ocean. Once, after paying close attention, I could recognize a distinct pattern of the wind in the mountains of Sedona, AZ almost as if Mother Nature were inhaling and exhaling! And I can't even describe what a contagious laugh will do to me...
When I focus on the gift of smell, I truly know I am blessed. Cooking with spices, the perfume of flowers in my garden and the scent of peppermint in the conditioner I put in my hair are some of my favorites. When I was a child, I used to plop myself down in the middle of a bed of mums my mother planted outside the kitchen window. What a healing gift the sense of smell can be!
The first note of gratitude that comes to mind when I think about having a sense of taste, is for chocolate. To be fair, Mother Earth has given us scores of trees and bushes that bear the sweetest fruit for the picking. The taste of a tall glass of lemonade or iced tea on a hot summer day is easy to cherish. It's not hard to take the sense of taste for granted, though.
Finally, what would life be like if we couldn't feel the sensation of a hug? Or the feeling of the sun warming our face, or a breeze cooling our skin? The gift of touch is the gateway to feelings of love. We can connect to the love for ourselves when we allow extra time to stand under a warm shower on a cold day. We can feel the energy of the earth when we dig our hands in the soil, or throw clay on a pottery wheel.
The gift of these five senses, inherent at birth, exist to bring joy into our lives. They are so easily taken for granted that we've forgotten how to give them our attention. If we were to give these five senses our attention, we would be living in the present. Within our five senses lie the realm of safety and security. We can meet our need for safety and security through our five senses.
Here's an exercise to get you started on discovering the power that lies within to feeling safe and secure. This exercise is meant to teach you about how to meet your own needs. In a journal or on a piece of paper write down each of the five senses:
Sight Sound Smell Taste Touch
Over the course of five days, choose one sense for each day, focusing your attention on noticing as many things related to that sense, and write them in your journal under each of the above headings. After five days, notice if there is any shift in your thoughts, emotions, or mood. Enjoy your discovery!