I’ve said this before many times, but that’s because I think it’s so important: Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all relationships. It’s the foundation of everything. Part of this relationship involves having a dialogue with ourselves. It involves identifying our needs and responding to them. Because this is also the foundation for a fulfilling life.
And this is where questions can help. Today, I’m sharing questions you can contemplate regularly to take compassionate care of yourself.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
Because questions are powerful. For instance, take this excellent question therapist and Psych Central blogger Kelly Higdon, LMFT, asks her clients: “Let’s imagine we are done working together, you look back and say ‘this was the best investment of my time, energy and money,’ what needs to happen in order for you to be able to say that?”
Her question is based on this question from coach Dan Sullivan: “If we were having this discussion 3 years from today, and you were looking back over those 3 years, what has to have happened in your life both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”
Questions give us clarity. They help us discover our needs, dreams and desires. They help us make decisions. They help us learn about ourselves and move forward in our lives.
You’ll often see self-care divided into four parts: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. I’ve written about one psychologist who divides self-care into seven parts: physical; emotional; spiritual; intellectual; social; relational; and safety and security.
You can use whatever definition make sense for you. For instance, you might like the idea of seven parts of self-care, because you appreciate getting more specific. Or four parts might be plenty. Or you might create your own categories — the great thing about self-care is that it’s personal. It’s based on what’s important for you, on what genuinely supports and serves you.
OK, without further ado, here are questions that might help you identify or clarify your needs:
- How do I feel about how I’m currently taking care of myself?
- Where do I feel fulfilled (in the different categories I’ve picked or created)?
- Where do I feel empty or starved (in the different categories I’ve picked or created)?
- Where would I like to invest my time and energy (both of which are finite; i.e., precious resources)?
- What are the top three activities that bring me calm? How can I incorporate them into my weekend, week or month?
- What are the top three activities that bring me joy? How can I incorporate them into my weekend, week or month?
- What activities, beliefs and behaviors am I saying yes to that I’d actually like to let go?
- What activities, beliefs and behaviors am I saying no to that I’d actually like to adopt?
- What boundaries do I need to set to protect my time and myself?
- At the end of each day what do I wish I had done? (This question isn’t about being more “efficient” or “productive.” Rather, it’s about the fun, fulfilling, interesting, meaningful, awe-inspiring, wonderful things you wish you got a chance to do.)
Please remember that you don’t need to earn self-care. You don’t need to lose X number of pounds to finally deserve to ask yourself what you need and then respond to it; to finally earn respect from yourself and others; to finally use your voice and speak up for your dreams. You don’t need to complete a certain project, certain reps at the gym or your entire to-do list to participate in calming, joyful activities.
All you have to do is be yourself. Exactly as you are. At any weight. Any shape. Any size. Any productivity level. Any accomplishment. Any day.