If you feel you’re living life on autopilot, remember the only thing you have control over is how you feel in the moment. So narrowing in on self-care and a regular check-in practice will help you enjoy your journey in the moment to feel centered and engaged in your life.
Here we’ll explore some check-in techniques and a list of 7 essential questions you can use to examine what you think and feel and how it’s driving your behavior.
You Are Fine Porcelain
The other day I was listening to an episode of The Purple Palace by one of my favorite YouTube creators Shayna Klee. She said something which resonated with me about self-care.
Shayna told the story about an heirloom cup and saucer set she was carefully placed in her tiny Parisian apartment. She was gentle when handling them, regarding the pieces as special, and realized she doesn’t always treat herself carefully.
Do you treat yourself as precious and fine, or more roughly like a discarded old pot? Unfortunately, self-care is often one of the last things some of us do.
No matter the state of your porcelain self (mine has some scratches and a chip here and there), so long as you’re still in one piece, there is a reason for feeling contentment and hopeful, too.
The Benefits of a Personal Check-in Practice
Self-care came to mind the other day when I interviewed sexual health and wellness coach Leah Ackerman for an episode of The Delicious Story about the subject of gossip.
My initial mindset and personal shame about my gossiping past reflected the behavior as a weakness of character. However, with some research, a broader understanding of gossip emerged.
At its core, gossip, specifically the malicious kind, can reflect a lack of self-care in the gossiper – and those who listen as well. When someone doesn’t take care of themselves, they are more likely to behave negatively.
The primary role of a regular check-in practice is to focus inward and recognize what is going on with your thoughts and feelings first. By understanding and giving yourself validation, you’ll behave from a place of stronger emotional health.
Tools for the practice of checking in can include deep breathing techniques, quiet meditation exercises, and a variety of journaling styles. The essence of each option is to make it a point to spend quiet quality time with yourself for reflection and relaxation.
7 Questions for Your Check-in
Your thoughts and feelings are neither bad nor good, but simply of the moment. Objective personal insights might take effort and humility to cultivate. Here is a rundown on 7 essential questions that can help you connect with you in the present.
- How do you feel right now? Identify the physiological sense of your feelings in the immediate. Consider descriptors such as tired, rested, full, hungry, warm, cold. From there, check to see if you have cognitive emotions that rise to the surface, such as energized, relaxed, lonely or alert.
- Sit with the feeling. Acknowledge the feeling and give it its due. When we feel sad or anxious, the knee-jerk response is to “resolve” a feeling. But without judgment, allow yourself to note the feeling and recognize it is transient, too.
- What is happening in your immediate moments? Right now is all that is certain. The past has gone, and you don’t know how the future will play out. What can you focus on in the immediate? Look at your surroundings and note them as they are, different from a moment ago. Do and view your usual “routine” things as if they are fresh and require your full attention. Wash the dishes, fold your clothes, dust a surface as if they need your full attention. What can you discover in the seemingly mundane?
- What thoughts lead to your current feelings? The thoughts that race through our heads are habits we don’t realize are bogging us down. We may feel, “I’m not happy in crowds,” or “I don’t do well at meeting people.” Negative thoughts can be flipped. Focus your attention on what you do well and rephrase the thought. “I enjoy one-on-one interactions.” “I like meeting people at small social events.”
- What self-talk can I embrace to provide me comfort in this moment? What words speak to you right now that are true and kind? What can you feel grateful for at this moment? “I’m enough just as you are right now,” would be one example. “I’m warm. I’m rested,” might be another.
- What brings you contentment? I’ve never found the constant talk of the pursuit of happiness or joy approachable. Although I appreciate moments of joy, and indeed celebrate feeling happy, these feelings generally seem short-term. But the pursuit of contentment seems like a feeling of being whole and at peace. Contentment is like sitting in a warm and sunshine-filled room. When and how do you feel contentment? What can you do to bring more contentment into your day?
- What are your “only-ifs”? What are the contingencies for your future that subconsciously dissuade you from realizing contentment in the present? “As soon as” thoughts often are examples. “As soon as I finish this degree, I’ll be happy with my life.” “As soon as I reach this career goal, I’ll feel good about myself.” “As soon as I find that right person, I’ll be fulfilled.” There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but if they drive you to the point of not appreciating the journey, then they are overpowering the experience of your present.
Take Care of Yourself
We are each a precious piece of porcelain equally deserving of care. Of course, the world isn’t just or equal. The reality of suffering is all around us and mostly out of our control. Your power rests in how you care for you, and your self-care will determine what you send out to others.
By adopting a personal check-in practice, you provide yourself the self-care benefits that allow you to shine within and exude light outward!