If you are like me, you have been flooded with articles and ‘worried’ stories about the possible effects on mental health of COVID-19 and all the uncertainties associated with 2020.
Some of the advisors, gloss over the impact of the losses, and suggest that we focus on gratitude. And yes, the research is fairly compelling: gratitude can heal many ills. However, it does not erase the losses, the regrets, the disappointments, and the struggles. There is no denying that gratitude’s, acts of service, movement and mindfulness, community connections, art and music will help to prevent or reduce the adverse impact of losses. These are all extremely important practices!
But I would like you to contemplate a different process that feels very personal to me and has upended all of my thinking and plans. COVID-19, and spending 2020 sheltering in place, working from home mostly, limiting my social contacts has caused me to slow down and be still. However, when the pandemic arrived, like many of you I thought it a great time to plan new projects and grow. We were advised to make the most of the ‘downtime’. I, never one to do things in moderation, wanted to do a COVID reset perfectly. I invested in an expensive coaching and personal development program, signed up for every workshop and training available; downsized my closet; began working out every day; improved my diet; and expanded and deepened my spiritual practices ( increased tithing, praying, and bible reading). If it was the ‘right thing’ I added it to my toolbox.
I am fortunate to have a job and a business that allow me to work from home. I remain grateful for that, and for all my privileges. However, what I am learning about myself—and encouraging you to reflect on—is that a perfectly designed life does not necessarily meet your needs. I have a life committed to service and purpose. Caring for others and being of service to others is my calling; but I realized I had some core needs that were not being met.
Let me tell you about my process. I had this nagging feeling of ‘blah’ and angst. Something just felt missing. So, I sat down and asked myself some questions that led to serious reflections on about my needs. I knew, that no ‘need’ can merely or simply be fulfilled by stuff, a program, a service, or a ‘thing.’ For example, if you need someone to talk to, that could be met in therapy. Or you could teach the people in your life how to listen to you. Or you could practice having real conversations with your friends, or find a mentor or coach, or find a tribe of like-minded people who would delight in listening to you.
Beyond our basic needs of food, shelter, clothing (basic stuff so you’re not naked), a safe place to stay, and some human contact, there are some other core needs. We need relationships, we need to be and feel heard, we need to feel loved and cared for, we need consistency, support, and safety (physical and emotional). We also need to know that we matter; and have power to grow and transform our lives. Upon deeper reflection I realized I had a number of unmet needs.
So, if you are open let me share my process with you. Begin by finding a quiet place and give yourself time to listen to your heart. Then ask: what is my heart’s desire? What are your top 10 needs? List them, and then identify at least five ways in which each of the top five could be met.
Now comes the hard part. Look at your list and consider how you’re currently spending your time, talents, resources, and energies. Are you living your life according to your needs? How many of your core needs are unmet? If indeed you have core needs not being met, start with your top five needs and make a plan to address them. Put the plan on paper and in your calendar. If you start this process you will be laying the groundwork to make 2021 a year of fulfillment.
More to come!