Finding time to be productive starts with taking care of yourself. And taking care of yourself starts with knowing what you need.
And going a step deeper, here’s where it all starts:
Knowing what you need begins with finding time to listen to yourself!
And believe it or not, knowing what you need doesn’t come naturally for us adults. There are tangled thickets of old messages, beliefs and learned behaviors that get in the way.
That’s why it’s so important to build an authentic dialogue with yourself, so that you can ask about what you need, listen to the answer than comes, and then address it in whatever way seems appropriate.
Think about a good friend who is going through some challenges. I am guessing that you might want to be helpful in some way; but you wouldn’t assume that you knew what he or she needed. You would probably ask.
And that’s what is so helpful to do with yourself, as well. When you are stuck on a project, say … feeling irritable or antsy or restless … that’s a point where you can offer yourself some help.
So, stop what you are doing and ask yourself some open-ended questions:
- What am I feeling right now?
- What do I need?
This is a simple, straightforward dialogue. The more you do it, the more easily the answers will come – and they may surprise you!
Now that you have some information, you also need to respond. Do this (always) from an adult and caring place (NOT from a critical place). In some cases, you will be able to immediately give yourself what you need (a brief walk outside, for example). Or you might make an ‘appointment’ with yourself for later. (And be SURE to follow through on this – it builds your trust in yourself.)
In some cases, what you want may not be possible or advisable. Say you are working on a deadline and are tired and what you really want is to get to bed, but if you do you will disappoint lots of people. In this case, you can’t give yourself what you want, but you can respond from a calm, adult place (as you would with a friend). And perhaps there is something else you can give yourself that would help.
Often, the simple fact of feeling heard, seen, and acknowledged is refreshing and nourishing. Indeed, this kind of honest dialogue with yourself can blossom and grow into an ever-deepening self-knowledge that will nourish you in unimagined ways.© Copyright 2012 Paula Eder, Ph.D.