Note: This guest post comes from Warrior Mom® Conference speaker Ali Kozoll. While she wrote it thinking of all of the many conference attendees soon joining us in Atlanta on October 14th and 15th, we hope this “Needs List” is a self care tool all Warrior Moms will find useful as we learn together how to better advocate for ourselves. Thanks again to our generous sponsors, who make the conference and all we do here at Postpartum Progress possible!
As an anxious and deeply emotional person I get overwhelmed quite easily, so for someone to ask me to take time to figure out what I need makes me want to cry-laugh while hiding underneath the covers of my bed. And though I initially resisted this practice the first few times I tried it, I’ve found I make it through my events in a much healthier manner than before I made this a habit.
What is a Needs List?
A needs list is just what it sounds like: a list of needs, made with intention. You can use this list any time you find yourself preparing for an emotionally-based occasion, which, let’s be real, could be any day of the week. I offer this tool to you now in anticipation of our Warrior Mom® Conference, which I understand will be a wonderfully rich and beautifully emotional weekend of connection, discovery, kinship, and healing. Making a Needs List will set you up to feel as prepared, supported and whole as possible during a potentially emotionally charged (even if in a good way) weekend or event.
Before you begin, set aside 15-30 minutes to spend with yourself to build this list. Start by asking yourself the following question…
“What do I need to feel full, whole and taken care of?”
Now, if you’re anything like me, that question alone causes anxiety. But never fear, we’re going to break it down more simply in order to cultivate the possibility of fulfilling our own needs. Sometimes the process of admitting we actually have needs or the concept of getting our needs met can bring up a well of emotion, so if it does, please know that you are not alone. Allow any and all emotions that may arise to flow through you and out. You might feel grief, anxiety, skepticism, anger or any combination of myriad emotions (Remember my resistance to this process? Yeah, that was anger). Breathe with it, sigh it out, or perhaps put a pen to paper and write about it. However you choose, vent it out. This way you’re clearing the cobwebs in the way of creating your Needs List.
What is a Need?
Needs are simple things that feel doable and not overwhelming. If anything on your list does feel overwhelming or anxiety-producing, it is not a need. It may be a want and/or potentially unnecessary for this list. The things on this list are for YOU. This is not to be confused with a “to-do” list and it is not a list of things you need to do for others.
The Needs List Journaling Page
Next, you’re going to break down the main question into three areas of focus. You’re going to fulfill the needs of your Mind, your Body and your Heart by answering these questions.
“What does my Mind need to feel full, whole, and taken care of?”
“What does my Body needs to feel full, whole, and taken care of?”
“What does my Heart need to feel full, whole, and taken care of?”
For each section, write down your answers for before, during & after the event. As you will see in the examples, it is important for you to be as specific as possible. Vagueness keeps things more abstract, whereas being specific grounds each item on your list.
Download the free Warrior Mom® Conference Needs List journaling page here and let the examples be only a guide as you explore what your mental, physical, and emotional needs are as we get closer to the Warrior Mom® Conference. Your personal needs will be different. Your goal is to have at least one thing in each section.
The fourth and final step in this process is perhaps the most important…
Share your list with someone you trust will support you (ie: hold you accountable). Find another Warrior Mom to share your list with, perhaps, or a loved one at home who knows who you are planning to take care of yourself and will support you in doing so. Your ‘needs advocate’ could be your partner, another family member, a close friend, or even your therapist.
Because I frequently travel for work leading emotionally charged events, I always make my Needs List leading up to my departure, and so I hope you will find this helpful. You can try it before the Warrior Mom® Conference and then use it moving forward to prepare for things like big outings, family holidays or anything that feels potentially draining or emotionally exhausting. I won’t lie to you. It takes constant commitment, this self-love, but in the words of Oscar Wilde “To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”. And who doesn’t want that?
Remember, no stress. This is not a task to accomplish, this is a radical commitment to your own well being. You can fulfill your own needs, mama, and you deserve it.