As humans we are naturally social beings and we mostly exist in relation to other humans, be it within a country, a region, a city, a village, a relationship. Consequently, depending on the culture we have experienced it is not so unusual for many of us to have heard the phrases ‘you need to put others first’, ‘you are too self-absorbed or self-centred' or ‘you always think of yourself’.
This idea of needing to prioritise other people’s needs before our own, has quite possibly come from an internalised concept in that we all exist as part of a larger working mechanism. That for a community to function we all need to play our part, and to support one another, to be of service, to be active pieces for the collective ‘machine’ to work.
What happens when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, sad, unsafe? When we don’t attend to our own needs, to our own individual ‘mechanisms’, how are we expected to contribute towards the collective machine?
As a dance movement psychotherapist, I spend a lot of time noticing my body, the rhythm of my breathing, the movement patterns I have developed over time. They all tell their own story, and the story can often change from time to time depending on my past and present experiences. When we don’t give ourselves time and space to listen to ourselves more whether it is through eating, drinking more water, going for a run, dancing around the living room, meditating, sleeping - and so many more wonderful things we can do to nourish our bodies – we can feel more disconnected and disengaged from ourselves.
It’s okay to give ourselves permission to feel our feelings, to acknowledge our thoughts, to connect with our bodies. It is okay to say no. It is okay to focus on our self-care.
You have the power to give yourself permission to attend to your own needs.
Listen to your body, it knows what it needs and it asks for it.
Kelly Androna, Registered Dance Movement Psychotherapist, currently Creative Arts Psychotherapist for the NHS, also member of Superpow! portfolio.