Why being kind to ourselves right now is so important
"People first concern themselves with meeting their basic needs; only afterwards, do they pursue any higher needs." - Abdolkarim Soroush
This is a very difficult time for all of us. Many of us are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones, our safety and our financial security. Basically - we have got to a point - where many of us are very afraid for our basic survival... and what kicks in when our safety and life are under threat - anxiety. So if you are feeling particularly anxious right now, that is completely understandable. You may also be thinking - “this is the perfect opportunity to write that book/ take up painting/ think about what I really want for my life” - and yes that is great if it is something you can do - but don’t feel guilty if those things just don’t feel important right now. Again -that is completely understandable - when we are worried about our basic needs being met, it can become really difficult to start focusing on creative pursuits and grander plans for our life.
Maslow sets out our hierarchy of needs as follows:
It is only when the basic needs (at the bottom of the pyramid) of having enough water, food, sleep shelter etc. are met, that we can then focus on the next level of needs. So we then focus on whether we feel safe and our needs for employment, personal security etc are met. Only once these needs are met - can we then move on to focus on needs higher up in that hierarchy - such as looking for fulfilment, pursuing creative interests and feeling connection.
In these difficult times, we are all very focused on ensuring the needs in the first two layers of the pyramid above are met. So if you are feeling a lack of professional motivation or are just not focused on those creative pursuits/grander life plans right now (despite having lots of time to focus on these things) don’t beat yourself up too much.
As the need for food and adequate nourishment has also come under the spotlight (as evidenced by the empty supermarket shelves) - you may have noticed that your relationship with food has also come to the forefront of your mind. Many of my clients have told me that they have noticed themselves eating more when stressed and anxious; that they are finding it difficult to stop snacking/emotional eating when they find themselves trapped at home all day; or that they are more prone to obsessing over food/calories/over-eating with much less to focus on or to distract themselves with. The health pandemic we are currently dealing with is very serious and scary -and unfortunately, I have noticed that this current climate can exacerbate eating disorders and issues around food too - with more time at home and more time to focus on/obsess over food choices.
So this is just a gentle reminder at this time - whether you are feeling anxious, or struggling with your relationship with food - to be kind to yourself and to speak to yourself gently and compassionately, as you would speak to a good friend. Try not to beat yourself up - over your food choices/body or over not wanting to embark on big projects or pursue creative interests right now. This is a tough time - and you are doing the best you can - you are stronger than you think - and together we will all get through this in time.
“What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” Henry David Thoreau