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What It Means When Something “Serves Us”

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I talk often about focusing our attention on the things that serve us and letting go of the things that don’t.

For instance, in this post, I wrote: “There’s so much freedom in relinquishing the beliefs, behaviors, habits, objects, stories and people that don’t serve us.”

In this post, I said: “…saying no gives us the time, space and energy to say yes to what truly nourishes and serves us.”

But what does this really mean?

Because if you’ve spent years spinning negative self-statements, neglecting your self-care and letting people into your life that only sink your self-worth and spike judgment and body bashing, you may have no idea.

I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even think I could choose something that served me, whatever this meant. I didn’t realize I had the permission to pick something positive. I didn’t have to believe my own mean thoughts. (Thankfully, we don’t.)

So what does it mean when something actually serves us?

I came across a great question in Jen Louden’s beautiful post that spoke to one side of this: “Is this story generating the future I want?”

I love this! It’s a specific — and beautifully simple — question we can ask ourselves. A question that also reminds us that we can create stories that support and empower us.

Here are other questions to consider when contemplating if something, such as a story, behavior, belief or person, serves you:

  • Will this help me take better care of myself?
  • Will this give me more time to devote to the activities I enjoy?
  • Will I learn something valuable?
  • Does this fuel and support my needs?
  • Does it reflect and respect my priorities?
  • Does this build genuine respect for my body?
  • Does it help me feel good about myself?
  • Will this lead to a healthier relationship with myself, with my world?
  • Does this build self-acceptance?
  • Does this boost my energy?
  • Does this excite me?
  • Does it make me happy?
  • Does it make me feel fulfilled?
  • Does this cultivate self-compassion?
  • Is this a gesture of kindness?
  • Would I suggest the person I love most on this planet do the same?
  • Would I say this to the person I love most on this planet?
  • Will this help me grow as an individual, in a compassionate way?
  • Does this empower me?
  • Does this inspire me?
  • Does it feed me mentally?
  • Does it feed me emotionally?
  • Does it feed me spiritually?
  • Does it feed me physically?
  • Will I enjoy the process?

We may not have much practice with picking stories, habits and people that serve us. It may not come automatically or naturally. But asking ourselves questions like the ones above and reminding ourselves that we can make intentional supportive choices are helpful ways to start the process.

What questions arise for you when thinking of the word “serve”?

“Is this story generating the future I want?”
What It Means When Something “Serves Us”

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2014). What It Means When Something “Serves Us”. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 9, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Sep 2014
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