In Nurturing Parenting, as I’ve mentioned, there is an emphasis on parents being able to recognize and meet our own needs so that we can do the same for our children. Hopefully by now this is a familiar concept (though I can attest that it doesn’t get any easier with repetition).
There’s more. In the class, we talk about the several areas in which we (as parents, humans, etc) have needs. They are categorized as follows:
Physical. Self explanatory, I would hope. Includes all the things you imagine keep you alive; things that feel good, ya da ya da.
Emotional. Knowing the feelings, feeling the feelings, expressing them in an appropriate and legal way.
Social. Interacting with people; making connections; communicating. I suck at this.
Intellectual. Learning things, developing skills. If reading books covered it, I would win this pie piece. Just don’t ask me how to change a tire.
All of the above tend to have a lot of buy-in with our parents. No disputing their importance or their practical value. But from there it gets a little tricky.
Creative. Some people wonder out loud why this is a category. The most common story is this (perhaps you’ve heard it. Perhaps you’ve said it!): “I can’t do any of that creative stuff.” Or, “I can’t even draw stick figures.” Or, “Trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing.” This is where I start whacking people with (rhetorical) rolled up newspapers.
First of all, none of that is true. It’s just that you don’t think it’s important enough to do it. Or to practice. Then, I point out all the ways in which you probably are meeting (or attempting to meet) your creative needs. What about that story you told at work about your last fishing trip? What about that casserole thing you made last Thursday?
Spiritual. Again, a lot of people have trouble with this one. Sometimes it’s for the same reason that stuff about a higher power in the Twelve-Step programs can bother folks. Look, the takeaway is that whatever higher power it is that you land on, it’s important that it’s not you. The same rule applies to meeting your needs. Your mom and your dad couldn’t do it for you, and you can’t do it by yourself. The spiritual need is the need to plug into something other than our ego. “I go to church” is the automatic answer, and probably that helps.
But what about going fishin’? I am being completely serious. Solitude works to meet this need. So does silence. Taking a walk, outside, without your cell phone, can check all the boxes. Easy peasy. Except it never is.
So it has to become important.
Crucially, this array of needs is not a hierarchy; some are not more important than others. Rather, it’s a wheel. It needs some inflation all around in order to turn properly.
Which of these needs are you meeting on a regular basis? Which need some work? Most importantly, which don’t you want to think about?
Start with those.