Sacrificing Your Basic Needs
As a Self-Compassion based psychologist, I see a lot of people, who meet their very basic needs (e.g,. food, rest, sleep, connection, family, and exercise) inconsistently to attain material goods or status. Despite people being aware of this unhelpful exchange, they remain susceptible to its offerings. My younger brother used to say, “If you want to hide something well, then hide it in the open. People never look there.” He was right then, and he is certainly right now.
We all want to be someone, and do well for ourselves. The social pressure, alone, is enough to get people to willingly turn over their basic needs. In fact, most of them do so enthusiastically with mottos and creeds that match this tattooed all over their social media interactions, in their conversations, on the clothes they wear to the gym, fashion accessories, and even bumper stickers. Stuff like “The grind never stops,” “Make it or die trying,” “Work now. Sleep never,” and “If you don’t sacrifice for what you want, what you want becomes the sacrifice.”
The problem with sacrificing your basic needs is that they impact your health. Sleep deprivation, poor nutrition, and persistent, unyielding stress can lead to gastrointestinal issues, emotional dysregulation, obesity, and in some cases, can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression. Maintaining this lifestyle often requires supplements that make these problems worse over time, such as energy drinks. The body and mind can only take so much stress.
Finding A Healthy Balance
You need a healthy balance of maintaining your basic needs, and doing something with your life that is meaningful, sustaining, and allows you access to positive, affirming people. You can work hard. Heck, you can work very hard, but if you are determined to ask a lot of your body, then you must be equally determined to take very good care of it, which includes recognizing your limitations, and responding with self-compassion. No matter how much more riveting it might seem to try to sprint to the finish, you cannot achieve wealth, long-term life-giving relationships, and the freedom to live as you would like by doing so. As any sprinter would, you can run really fast for a short time until your body gives, and literally forces you to rest until it can recover.
A Self-Compassion Motto To Ensure Daily Fulfillment Of Our Basic Needs
A really forward thinking and motivated 8 year old once asked me how he could get to a world where people took good care of themselves, and still lived in a fulfilling way. Both his parents worked very hard, and his heart was heavy from watching them come home so many days too tired to enjoy any of the things that they took pleasure in. 8-year-olds require directness, so I told him that you can’t, that we are stuck with this world, but that we can accept that we are exposed to certain pressures that don’t help us, and then be really creative and passionate about how we can take really good care of ourselves and others.
We came up with our own motto to help him remember how to practice this particular flavor of self-compassion: “Today is ok. Let’s take care of ourselves, and make it great.” Just hearing it makes me feel better. Whatever today is for you, it is ok. In other words, it is enough, but take a look at what you need to fulfill your basic needs to make it great because let’s be honest, you would settle for good, but you really want great. Great is just better.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 230. In The Books.