We have all kinds of needs. Our main needs are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual—and it’s important to care for all of them. The best way to do that is to explore and examine. It’s to get curious. It’s to constantly ask ourselves questions. Big questions like What soothes my soul? and basic questions like Am I thirsty right now?
Because, as Janet Conner beautifully writes in her book Writing Down Your Soul: How to Activate and Listen to the Extraordinary Voice Within, “Questions are the Mars Explorers of your psyche, flying out from your conscious mind to probe the vast vaults of information available in your subconscious mind and beyond.” Which is why today, I’m sharing some examples of questions (and answers) we can ask ourselves to fulfill our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
Physical Needs: What boosts your energy? Maybe it’s a dance class or getting out your hula hoop. What calms you? Maybe it’s stretching or meditating. Maybe it’s releasing your nervous energy with a run. What helps to ease the tension in your body? Maybe it’s getting a massage or rubbing your neck. What are your physical boundaries? Maybe it’s not surrounding yourself with certain people, because they engage in toxic behavior. Maybe it’s saying no often. What nourishes your body? Are you thirsty or hungry? Are you tired? Maybe you start following a bedtime routine and strive to fall asleep an hour earlier than usual. How do you want to feel physically?
Mental Needs: What inspires you? Maybe it’s reading certain books or listening to certain podcasts. Maybe it’s waking up in the morning knowing you’ll be setting time aside to pursue an essential passion for you. What challenges you? Maybe it’s doing massive puzzles with your family or learning a new language or the ins and outs of our vast solar system. What ignites your creativity? Maybe it’s reading about creativity, and getting out your crayons. Maybe it’s having a small space dedicated solely to your crafts. Maybe it’s making everything in your life into a creative conundrum—and finding creative solutions.
Emotional Needs: What do you need to feel today? Maybe it’s the sadness that’s been circling your heart lately. Maybe it’s a sharp sense of anger that just surfaced. How can you express this healthfully? Maybe you name and acknowledge your heartache. Maybe you sit with it, without judging yourself or thinking you shouldn’t be sad because it’s the holidays, and like a good person, you’re supposed to be happy. Maybe you tell your partner that you’re angry, in a clear and compassionate way. How can you be honest about how you’re doing, and what you need emotionally? Maybe you journal every night, and see it as your safe space to spill anything and everything that comes to mind.
Spiritual Needs: What soothes your soul? What does your soul need? Maybe it’s reading and rereading the same meaningful prayer. Maybe it’s going to synagogue every week. Maybe it’s taking daily walks in the park and remaining in awe of Mother Nature. Maybe it’s finally forgiving yourself for making a bad decision. How do you even think of your soul? What is sacred to you? How can you reconnect to a higher power, as you see and interpret it?
Our needs change all the time. Which is why it’s important to check in with ourselves regularly, and to ask questions like the above. You can even create your own list of questions—a kind of checklist or cheat sheet of quick questions to explore, to see how you can meet your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
I know that sometimes we think of our needs as a hassle. But try to think of them—and the act of meeting them—as an opportunity, even as a privilege. Because it is. We are complex creatures who have distinct, sometimes loud, needs. And we have the interesting, exciting, creative task of fulfilling them.