One of the major things for sustained emotional health is a developed and growing self-awareness.
All of us have some awareness and some blindness of who we are.
The Johari Window technique gives insight to this. Some areas of our life are visible to others and ourselves. We have a secrete area where things are hidden from others. We have areas we can’t see but others can see. And then there is the “God-only-knows area”, invisible to both others and us.
During long road trips when our children were young, we played the game, “I can see something that you can’t see and it starts with…” A lot of fun and a great passer of the time. It is amazing how you can build awareness playing this game. Similarly, through focus, you can build emotional and physical self-awareness. It is only as we build awareness that we begin to see our blindness.
Becoming aware of what is happening physically helps us to recognise the depth of what is happening emotionally. Physical reactions like hands shaking under duress, or dry mouth, feeling fatigued, are helpful indicators if we pay attention to them.
2 failures of blindness of self.
When a leader has limited self-awareness they fail to recognise or give space to emotions and their related physical reactions.
During the time of recovery from burnout, with help from my mentor, I came to see that my practice was to give little space for recognising or processing emotions. I thought I was self-aware but I was blind to self. Just prior to my 40th birthday, my young sister (32yrs old) tragically died. Rosanne had given birth 5 days earlier to her third child.
My last conversation was her calling to let me know they called him Timothy (my middle name). We were very close, and I felt the loss deeply, yet hardly recognised or talked about it. Few people knew how I was really doing. Rosanne was one of the young people who made a decision to follow Jesus the first time I gave a public call for commitment—so special. I didn’t take time off other than to attend the funeral.
Two years prior we had planted a church, and we were in go mode. I didn’t give my self space to grieve. I didn’t know-how. In hindsight, it would have been so great to have a mentor to chat through her passing, to help unpack the grief, and thereby, begin healing.
My mentor helped me to see that blindness to emotions also leads to blindness to corresponding physical reactions. One common physical reaction to grief is tiredness. My mother-in-law told us how at 6 weeks after the passing of her husband she found it very hard to get out of bed. Nothing wrong other than the body dealing with the recent loss. Recognising the physical reaction was helpful in her processing her grief.
Healthy Christian leaders progressively develop and evaluate an accurate picture of themselves.
How can you formulate a real picture of yourself?
I hope that my transparency gives you incentive to be more transparent.
Who can help you. Find someone to chat with.