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The Value of Checking In

Updated: Jul 2

Learning to explore and navigate our inner experience is an essential component of healing. Tuning in helps us understand our emotional and relational needs. It helps us know where our boundaries are or where we need them. It helps us understand our past and current experiences. It helps us make meaning in our lives. It helps us develop our sense of self. When we can learn how to check in with curiosity, we can make self-discoveries that can deepen our healing and help us understand ourselves better. There are many ways we can check in:

A graphic of the different ways we can check in, including mentally, physically, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually.

Yet it can feel challenging turning inward, especially if we feel wary of or scared of what we might discover. As complex trauma survivors, we often have many negative core beliefs around emotions, and our inner critics can make it quite difficult to check in. Sometimes we need a little guidance, some structure, and a reminder that our inner experiences are information rather than an indicator of our worth and value.

Here is one model I use for checking in that invites us to consider our inner experiences on a spectrum - what we are feeling closest to today. I'll invite you to start your check in by practicing emotional consent: ask yourself if you have the capacity to check in today or ask yourself if checking in would feel supportive. Once you've determined if checking in would be helpful today, you can turn inward using the following questions:

Today I'm feeling closer to:

  • The Past

  • The Present

  • The Future

  • All Over The Place

Today I'm feeling closer to:

  • Hyper-arousal

  • Window of Tolerance

  • Hypo-arousal

  • Shutdown & Dissociated

Today I'm feeling closer to:

  • Uncomfortable feelings

  • Comfortable feelings

  • Mixed feelings

  • Numbing feelings

Today I'm feeling closer to:

  • Outside of my body

  • Near my body

  • Inside my body

  • What body??

Today I'm feeling closer to:

  • Open

  • Guarded

  • Becoming Guarded

  • Becoming Open

Today I need:

  • Gentleness

  • Bravery

  • Connection

  • Reassurance

Today I need to hear:

  • It's okay to take it slow.

  • It's okay to not have it all figured out.

  • It's okay to ask for what I need.

  • It's okay to explore my feelings.

Today I can support myself by:

  • Journaling my feelings for 5 minutes.

  • Making myself a nourishing meal.

  • Going on a mindful walk.

  • Asking a trusted person for a 20 second hug.

Taking a couple minutes every day or every couple of days to check in is one way we can befriend our inner world. Rather than assessing our emotions and inner experiences as "good' or "bad", we practice seeking understanding by gathering information. When we stay curious, we can get to know ourselves, which allows us to take steps towards our needs and what we want from life.

Reflection Questions:

  1. How was it to check in? What did you discover?

  2. What can you acknowledge and validate today?

  3. What connections did you make mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.?

Resources That Could Help:

  1. FREE Resource: Tuning In Guide - I created a free guide that uses this format to help you create a daily or every couple of days check in practice. This guide introduces self-discovery and how we can practice healing curiosity.

  2. Ready to deepen your check in practice? I'd suggest Name It to Tame It - a guide that teaches you how to navigate and understand your inner landscape. This guide helps you understand your emotions and the messages they are bringing. ($4)

  3. The Emotion Regulation Bundle - This bundle includes Name It to Tame It, but also includes the Emotions Life Raft, for navigating trauma triggers, and Befriending the Body Written Somatic Guide, which includes 20 somatic practices for nervous systems regulation. ($15)

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I always found it interesting when you would ask if anyone wanted to do a check-in and my brain would immediately go “Nope!” It was always a good signal that I might need to pay attention to something.

Sara Aird
Sara Aird
Jun 13
Replying to

I hear you. There are parts of me that are often like, “Nope!” or “Let’s pass on that.” It usually makes me curious, like hmmmmm I bet something’s up. 😏

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