Giovanni Da Udini detail of”Ceres” 1518
This is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving. In doing so, we are encouraged to give thanks to what we have as well as the friends and family present in our lives. Important and good things. But I find that there is a missing piece. The piece of self-gratitude.
Yes it is a coined phrase but an important one. It means that we recognize what our true needs are and are able to provide deeply for ourselves. This becomes especially critical in this busy and upcoming season when we are trying to please so many people. It is all too easy to lose sight of our real needs.
The word “need” is defined as an essential requirement. We all require oxygen, it is non negotiable. Additional basic needs such as shelter, food, and sleep are also a part of our non negotiable needs. Those needs differ from person to person, but it is our job to understand what OUR needs specifically are. If you need 8-9 hours of sleep then that is your basic requirement. It isn’t negotiable. Anything less and you will perform with a deficit physically, emotionally and mentally. You will never be your best or vibrant self. Exercise is another realm in which we all have needs. We know we need it, most of us live very sedentary lives. I do better with stretch and being physically active rather than going to a gym. In the spring, summer and fall months my life is incredibly active. But in winter when snow prevents a lot of physical activity (other than snow shoveling which is great exercise!), I find that working out to Miranda Esmonde White Essentrics tapes is a physical source of well being and strength. For others a gym energizes them. Some people thrive on aerobics while others do best with weights, yoga, ballet or dance. We are all different in what works for us but we all share this basic need to really use and care for our bodies properly. Yet finding the time is another story for so many of us.
Food is an enormous issue for so many people and yet another critical way in which we can truly care for ourselves.. We know what is good for us but we continue to eat foods that whittle away our sense of vibrancy. Foods that are processed end up being a default because they are considered quick and easy. Yet foods on the run will never bring us to our highest potential. If you do best with a wheat or dairy free diet than that is your requirement. And it is up to you how much you are willing to invest in and love yourself.
Then there are the enormously important things like love, community, joy and pleasure. How much pleasure do you need in your life? What kind of pleasure suits you? Most people are so removed from our concept of true pleasure and joy. It took me years to be able to grant myself the permission to engage in real pleasure.
Identifying and acting on what your essential requirements are will bring you great joy. The ultimate act of self-love is acting on what your unique requirements are. Learning what your stress tolerance is and letting go of excess stress is self-love. Saying No to what no longer works in your life is self-love. Saying Yes to what works in your life is self-love. Knowing what foods provide the best energy for your body and eating those foods is self- love. Developing awareness for what works and doesn’t work in your life, your relationships, your social world, your sleep habits, your diet, what pleasures fill you and so much more, all enables you to make empowering decisions. These decisions allow us to act with kindness and integrity to ourselves. It is then that we cultivate our well-being. We become much less dependent on others when we can provide for ourselves as well as teach those around us, who love us, what we really need. This is self appreciation. When we make the changes that reflect our “real” needs, our self-love cup runneth over. And that provides an endless stream of nourishment, well-being and gratitude. We become balanced and strong in many avenues of our lives.
I invite you to give thanks for YOU and all that you are. Imagine what your life would feel like if you gave yourself the things you truly require. Imagine what our world would be like if we all felt nourished!
Happy Thanksgiving !