The 5 A’s Every Adult Needs
How to start giving yourself what you seek from others.
We all have those moments when we look in the mirror and wonder where the days go. All the face masks and overnight eye creams in the world is never going to solve what your body already knows. And your body is a direct reflection of what is happening on the inside. Something is missing. Your emotions come next. Moody and erratic, you seek validation elsewhere only to come up empty-handed.
You can’t get what you need from others when they don’t have it. You have to get it from yourself. You need attention. You need to feel appreciated and loved. You need to know what you are doing in your life and work is the best you can do. You need a healthy, loving touch.
Attention, affirmation, appreciation, approval, and affection. These 5 A’s are not only essential to healthy child development but also a lifelong need in an adult’s life. And unlike a child who has parents responsible for giving these essential elements for psychological growth and wellness, adults have to turn inward.
Attention comes in the form of self-care. Self-care is not pampering. Self-care is the daily practice of what is right for your body and mind in the pursuit of development and lifelong growth as a human being. It could include eating healthy meals or reading a book.
Affirmation means telling yourself you are successful in your own definition. Focusing on a small goal will help with this. Consistently turning inward as you build upon completing the goal with phrases like “I have this” and “I can do this” will help you enjoy the journey to get to that goal. Trust yourself to complete the goal, because no one else but you can do it.
Appreciation is a process. Not many of us are taught how to self-appreciate. It just may take some time and practice to get into a groove. Be thankful for your body. Be grateful for your skills and abilities. You also need to recognize your weaknesses and not see them as negative. Weakness is an opportunity for growth. A great way to appreciate yourself is to begin a self-appreciation journal. Begin with a simple task that you completed. For example, because I live in NYC, I would record “I boarded the train at 8:04.” And after that, I would write “I am grateful for my attention to being on time, because of this I was able to catch the first train and my commute wasn’t rushed.”
Approval is always going to be one of the hardest. Especially if you have spent a lifetime listening to disapproval from family and in your work life. Seeking approval from others is a major block in growth as an adult. Figure out the motive behind wanting others to like you. Once you figure out the motive, you can start addressing the emotions behind the motive and unraveling yourself from that need to have approval from others. Be confident that you and only you can give you the approval you seek.
Affection is my favorite of the 5 A’s. Affection is the action byproduct of self-love. Affection can come in the form of daily rituals of touch. We all have routines that involve touch. Even in simple acts like combing your hair or putting on moisturizer can be an opportunity to give affection to yourself. As you do these activities take a moment to slow down and connect with your body. Become aware of how your fingers feel on your skin. When showering, instead of rushing through, slow down enough to take time to wash each body part individually. This is not about getting clean. It is about re-connecting with your body.
Practicing the 5 A’s is just that, a practice. If you have never given yourself the essential attention, affirmation, appreciation, approval, and affection it will take time. Be patient with yourself in this process.
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Tracy Barbour is a trauma-informed, mental health first aid certified Change and Transformation Coach based in New York City and New Jersey focused on helping you make the transition from surviving to thriving in your life, career, and business.