As I reflect on self-care there are three keys to being effective in self-care: self-knowledge, boundaries and intentionality. Over the next several blogs I will be talking about each of these factors.
There are certainly other key factors in effective self-care, however I have found these to be the most essential three. We cannot care for ourselves effectively if we do not know who we really are, our strengths, weaknesses, temptations and victories. Boundaries are not easy and very unpopular but are an essential aspect of love and of self-care. You cannot care for yourself without setting boundaries. Self-care also does not happen without being intentional. It is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural.
Self knowledge is critical. Self-knowledge is the essential tool for leaders. It is the hammer, the screwdriver, the wrench, the pliers, the toolbox and more. Meaningful, consistent, self-care cannot happen without self-knowledge. Just as you cannot care for another person well without knowing them and what they need, you cannot care for yourself without knowing yourself well.
To do self care in an effective way, we need to know our God-given personality. We need to know how our history, life, upbringing and environment has shaped us. We should celebrate who we are, even in the midst of our sins, weaknesses and shortcomings. We are all beloved children of God and have been given gifts that are a double-edge sword. Our personality will have its assets and its liabilities, yet we look at ourselves with grace, with the same love that God has for us.
We need to know our strengths and abilities. We cannot be good at everything. Often, especial lying within Christianity, we focus on our weaknesses, which is a great mistake. Rather, our primary (not sole) focus should be on our strengths, the things God has created us to do well, the gifts that God has given us, the education, abilities and skills we have obtained by the grace of God.
We also must know our weaknesses, triggers and blind spots without focusing on them. We will always have them and while some of them may change and others may not, they will always exist because we are imperfect. Even our strengths are a double-edge sword that have a downside. Instead of focusing on these things, we should know and name them. Our main goal with our weaknesses, triggers and blind spots is to manage them with the help of God and others.
Without self-knowledge we cannot do self-care in an effective way on a regular basis. Its often easier to evaluate others than to look in a mirror and be honest with ourselves, yet our greatest health and ministry comes when we know ourself well.