Questions We Don’t Like to Ask

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To be radical about self-care, I suggest starting with a radical inventory of your life. I have a tool that I hope will help you take this first step.

Instructions for use:

OPTION #1—a quick check: pick two of these questions that get under your skin or catch your attention. Resolve now to spend the next ten minutes thinking about what radical self-care decision would address these two questions.

OPTION #2—a thorough check: set aside two hours in the next week to sit down with pen and paper and think through this inventory in a meaningful way. Spend one and half hours on the questions and then half an hour on a plan for radical self-care.

  • Caring for your soul: How would you evaluate your stress level? Are you having enough fun? Do you spend time with replenishing people in your life? Are relationships in your immediate circle growing or shrinking in intimacy and satisfaction? Have you ignored an emotional issue or block that needs attention? Has something changed in your life that you haven’t sufficiently processed? Have you dismissed a hunch that counseling might be a good idea?
  • Caring for your body: Are you healthy? Do you sleep well and long enough? Do you eat mindlessly or in reaction to stress? Drink too much alcohol or depend on too much caffeine? Do you need to lose or gain weight? Are you exercising enough? Have you ignored routine physical checks or post-poned medical tests?
  • Caring for your spirit: Are you engaging in renewing spiritual practices? Do you observe a Sabbath or take a day off? Do you have a sense that you are growing and/or learning spiritually? Is there spiritual unrest in you or do you sense God’s press to pay attention to something? Is there any way you consistently recognize that you are living outside a spiritual conviction you hold? Do you feel your spirit is expanding or shrinking?
  • Caring for your mind: What new topic or skill have you learned about lately? What curiosity has been provoked in your life of late? Do you spend enough time with people who stimulate your thinking? How are you experiencing development and encouragement in your field of expertise (whether that is your vocational, a hobby, or if your main area of expertise is in the home)? What have you read or watched that has stimulated thought for you of late?

Using this or some other inventory on a quarterly basis could be life changing. But only if one is determined to RESPOND to the answers. Word of warning: do not try to change too much at once. Listen to your gut: you will know which things need immediate attention.

Are you willing to start with a radical inventory to catalyze radical self-care in your life?

6 Comments

  1. Does anyone honestly have time to address all those areas? For me, kind hard to do when your entire days get sucked away by 16hr work days and ridiculous, incessant client demands.

    1. Of course not, she even cautions against trying to change too much at once. But I think the point that she makes is to pick one or two and work on them. Once the change has taken place, to the point that you no longer think about the issue because it has become common place in your lifestyle, then address another issue.

      I know for me, as a pastor, I often get caught up in other people’s issues. Not that I take on their problems but there is a level of commitment. The old adage is “Who ministers to the minister?” Janice has certainly given me things to think about, or at least keep in check.

    2. Matt, I’m curious about your situation. Do you work 5 days/week doing 16 hours? Working at an agency? To be direct about it, “ridiculous, incessant client demands” makes it sound like you are pretty bitter about the situation you are in and you feel you don’t have a choice in the matter. Is that accurate? It also sounds like you conceive of the problem as something external to you. Again, I don’t know the details of your situation, but I find it helpful to always remind myself that the enemy is inside – whether I’m frustrated with my wife, my clients, or something else. You have to find a way to experience your clients differently than you do now, or else it is unlikely your work with them will be effective. More internal locus of control.
      Commenting like this on my part is a lame way to interact over something like this, but obviously I don’t have any other means at this point. My apologies if it feels like adding insult to injury.

  2. This dialogue reveals how difficult it is to prioritize self-care. There have been many times in my life when I could not conceive of taking space to evaluate much less DO anything about it. I suppose that is what feels radical about the whole enterprise. I say we keep pressing into this tension and find a way to do this kind of reflection.

  3. What a helpful and empowering post, Janice! I think that you must be very good at what you do. :). While the inventory is challenging, the questions themselves force as level of awareness reflection that can get under your skin even someone doesn’t carve out the time for deeper thought and reflection. I find that in the midst of a full lifez reflective time does exist when we don’t expect it. For me its those solitary car rides and the morning shower!

  4. I find that as a sense of ‘dis-ease’ rises and with it tension, I will go through a quick check inventory. It helps me to ‘check out’ to ‘check in’ occasionally!

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