By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
It’s important to know what you genuinely need.
Many people find it challenging to get clear about what they actually need. Making sure that your needs are being met is part of having a happy, contented life. Needs can come in all sizes, from the mandatory life-threatening needs for food and shelter to the transient ones like tickets to Friday’s concert. One way to improve your mental health is to get clear on what you need and find ways to prioritize those needs.
Learn the difference between wants and needs.
Have you ever thought, “I need a new car?” If the car you have isn’t running and you depend on it for getting to and from work and grocery shopping, then yes, you may genuinely need a new car. But be careful here. What you may need is to get the vehicle you have fixed.
On the other hand, if you’re telling yourself that you need a new car because yours is a whole year old and your neighbor just got a brand-new luxury model, the truth is that it is a want, not a need. Learning the difference between what you need and what you want can take a lot of stress off your life, particularly in the financial area.
Your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations help you determine your needs.
In deciding what you truly need, you must deal with three separate sources of information. It’s tempting to believe that whatever you think – that must be true. But the more you examine and test your thoughts, the more you may come to understand that just because you think it doesn’t make it true. It’s useful to continually re-examine your thoughts to determine if they are logical and if there’s evidence for that thought. A lot of people believe things simply because they would like them to be true.
Feelings can be a useful source of information. It’s dangerous to dismiss your feelings as unimportant. Nerve cells don’t exist solely in the brain. There are scattered throughout the body. They collect information about how the body is functioning, and they also send signals to the muscles and body parts, telling them to prepare for action.
If you’ve ever thought that someone is a pain in the neck, reach up and feel your neck muscles. Chances are they are tight. Does someone make you sick to your stomach? This is your nervous system telling you to beware of that person. Learn to use the information your feelings are giving you but don’t let them take over running your life. Sometimes your feelings are not helpful. Just because something scares you doesn’t mean it is dangerous.
Please don’t ignore your physical body. It is a source of information about what you really need. You will function better, both physically and emotionally, if you take good care of your body. Your body has many ways to tell you that you are hungry and need to eat. Just be sure you’re eating because the body needs fuel, not because you’re using food as a drug and becoming an emotional eater. Many people confuse thirst with hunger or even emotions. Drinking enough water to hydrate your body is a need. Listen to your body when it tells you that you need to sleep. Getting adequate rest will help you think more clearly and function more efficiently.
Allocate time for determining your needs.
Life can be overwhelming at times. We run from one problem to another, all the while hours, days, months, and years are slipping away. Periodically we need to take a break and examine the life we are living. Identifying what you need and don’t need in your life is an essential part of that periodic review. Are you doing a lot of things that are not benefiting your life?
Get clear on your values and whether your actions are helping you achieve goals consistent with those values. If you know what you need and want out of life, this can guide the way you will spend your time, your money, and your effort.
Do a daily review of your progress toward meeting your needs.
If your life hasn’t been meeting your needs, getting clear on those needs is only the first step. Next, each day you should be taking some action, however small, that is leading you in the direction of a fulfilled life. Doing a daily review just before going to bed can help you see whether your efforts are producing the results you want. After doing your daily review, make sure to forgive yourself for any shortcomings and decide that you’ll begin your efforts again tomorrow.
Ask yourself what you are grateful for.
If you only look at the things that are lacking in your life, you will get a very distorted picture. Painful and unpleasant things have a way of taking over our minds. Make sure you spend time paying attention to the positive things that happen. Ask yourself repeatedly, what are you grateful for? If you’re having trouble making up that list, talk with your support system or a professional. Often, we don’t notice the things we’re grateful for until we lose them. Practicing gratitude has positive mental health benefits that will help you through the tough times.
Ask yourself, what am I doing that I wish I could stop doing?
Have you ever said you needed to find more time to do things? The idea that you can find time is an illusion. Each week we have precisely one hundred and sixty-eight hours. There’s no way you’re going to find any more. The way you free up more time for the things that matter is to stop spending some of those hours on things that are not benefiting you. If you find it difficult to get your needs met, especially your self-care needs, a first step is eliminating all the things you’re doing that are not benefiting you.
Make friends with your feelings.
Learn to recognize when you are feeling something and what it is that you’re feeling. Learn your feeling’s names and remember that emotions come in intensities. Think of feelings as cues for action. You don’t have to let them control you, but you should learn to listen to what they’re telling you.
Pay attention to the things you’re telling yourself.
Self-talk is powerful. If you tell yourself negative statements, you undermine your efforts. Positive self-talk can be a powerful motivator. If you’re telling yourself that you can’t, then you won’t be able to. People who tell themselves that they can achieve more. When using self-talk, it is especially important not to lie to yourself. If your brain thinks you are lying, it will create failure.
Make self-assessment a regular habit.
You can’t figure out where to go unless you know where you’re at. At regular intervals, do a self-assessment. How have you been feeling, and what thoughts have been occupying your mind? How are you spending your time? You need to be patient with yourself. Change frequently happens gradually. But if you’re not moving in the right direction, you either need to change what you’re doing or change your goal.
Is the life you’re living meeting your needs? If not, what action will you take to get those needs met? If something in this post started you thinking, please leave a comment below or feel free to use the contact me form.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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