The last few weeks I’ve been mulling over the idea of needs and the impact they have on the choices we make.
Five years into the journey of motherhood, here are a few statements about needs I’m beginning to know to be true.
First, needs are important, including mine.
Second, no one’s needs are more important than anyone else’s.
Third, when our needs aren’t met, it shows up in our behavior.
Needs weren’t on my mind until a few weeks ago when they were discussed in parenting course I’m taking. Since then, I’ve been wrestling with the idea that my needs are as important as my son’s, my husband’s, my friends,’ my clients,’ and everyone else’s needs.
For most of my life, I’ve felt guilty about meeting my needs, especially when I saw them in conflict with someone else’s. I thought ignoring my needs was a necessary part of being in service to others.
At work, I’d strive to meet the needs and preferences of my boss and the organization I worked for. I prided myself on always saying yes and bending myself for what the role required.
For almost 20 years, I’ve anticipated my husband’s needs—from the early days when we were dating to life now as parents.
In friendships, I’ve deferred to friends’ preferences for where we went and what we did, once again making myself flexible to meet their needs.
When I had my son, I continued this trend. I’ve applied myself ardently to meeting and anticipating his needs, wants, and interests.
But being a mom has changed one thing.
I’ve felt more depleted than ever before meeting others’ needs. I only recently began to understand that meeting needs is a balancing act.
I’ve seen when kids’ needs aren’t met, it’s reflected in their behavior. And, truth be told, when my needs aren’t met—for my daily meditation and hike, for example—my behavior is definitely different. My responses are less generous and more strained. I have less room for what shows up in life.
Most of us know what it feels like to do something that brings us joy and fills us up.
Afterward, we have energy to listen to others, to care for them, and to creatively solve problems. Life is easier to navigate.
When we’re depleted, we do the opposite. We focus on the negative, have less room for others’ strong feelings, and problems seem unsolvable.
So, what do you need to feel alive, energized, and so filled up, so that you live from a place of love and care?
How can you meet that need in a small way every day?
I can’t help but wonder if we could change the world just by showing care for ourselves while at the same time serving others.
Joanna Zaremba is a mom and wife, a nature lover, a writer, a photographer, and a movement and mindfulness teacher. She has lived in the Cheyenne Cañon neighborhood since 2012. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column was originally printed in the Cheyenne Edition newspaper.