June 3, 2019

4 things that build self-integrity

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What damages self-integrity?

Burnout damaged my self-integrity. A fault line appeared in my foundations. A divide came into view between my actions and values. Like Paul in Romans 7:18 the longings to do what is right are within me, but will-power is not enough to accomplish it.

My love for people and desire to engage with them was overtaken by the need to isolate. This came to my attention during the time my GP was telling me that I was approaching burnout. On one occasion when my family came over I went to my room to watch a program on my iPad. I love my family and we are healthily enmeshed. Time with them is now a key replenisher. But then I found I was isolating. What I valued and what I was doing was different. Self-integrity is strong where values and actions align.

How healthy are your key relationships?

The damage to self-integrity impacts self-esteem and self-worth. This gap made me feel bad. I did not realise I was sick and that withdrawal from people was a preservation response.

One of my key values is longevity of relationships—enduring friendships that have stood through the issues of life. I value friends who help each other in need, and at times carry each other to help secure their well-being.

However, in emotional depletion I became less aware of what was happening in others and what effect my emotions were having on them. In blindness to my own pain, I withdrew from the symptoms I felt from their pain. To my regret, this caused some long term friendships to break.

Reflect on your values and your actions. Identify any gaps. Think about why there are gaps. What trusted safe relationship do you have where you can chat about this?

Repair of Self-Integrity

Don’t despair. As indicated by Romans 7 you are not the first to wrestle with this. I am convinced that God is our help here.

Firstly, if you are in acute burnout you will need to rest. We are designed to need rest. Our bodies will tell us if we listen, when we need to withdraw. A good sleep pattern is an essential foundation for strong self-integrity.

Secondly, spend time thinking about who you are and also who and what is most important to you. I found great comfort and peace in this thought. Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.[a] I found healing for my soul as I read this every day for over 2 years like this, “Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that he has lavished on Don! He has called Don and made Don his very own beloved child.” Find a passage that builds your identity and read it first thing every day.

Thirdly, build your ability in self-awareness and self-reflection. Read or reread my previous blogs on these topics. You are building the ability to see what is happening within you and in those you encounter, and also to see why is this happening. A mentor is key to developing this insight. You may find yourself needing to apologise for your actions that have impacted others. This is a freeing process because there is great power in an apology.

Fourthly, having worked on the above, you will discover your resilience is strengthened. Then you are better able to exercise self-control and tackle some of the places where your values and actions are different. See my blog Self-control Eating.

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