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This post is Week Two in the Embracing Self-Care Community Blogging Project Series. Check out the Introduction post here.
I am the ABSOLUTE master of procrastination and dreamy thoughts with no follow-through. No joke. I am the ultimate winner in that department. I’ll prove it to you… later, after I surf the ‘net, clean my baseboards, organize my closet, create a new brownie recipe and watch 6 episodes of Jimmy Fallon clips on Youtube, despite having a pressing deadline for something due in 24 hours.
I’ll be straight up with you here: the concept of talking about ‘knowing yourself’ as a form of self-care in this series was my idea, and I have a major love-hate relationship happening with this topic.
You wanna know why?
Because what I – as a head-in-the-clouds dreamy idealist INFP (my MBTI type) – really need, is some SELF-DISCIPLINE.
That is no fun.
I adore dreaming and scheming up new ideas, but when it comes to doing the hard work of follow-through, suddenly the idea loses its excitement and then womp, womp, womp… I move on. It has taken me thirty years, but I now realize that I am all but hopeless in the self-discipline department. It’s just not a natural part of my personality. The end result is a whack of constant stress that hinders my ability to be the best version of myself that I can be.
So what I’ve come to realize about myself on this journey of conscious self-care, is that the whole concept of caring for myself so that I can care for others actually starts right down deep in the middle of me, in the core of who I am, and my place in life. My personality and my life circumstances totally dictate what effective self-care looks like for me specifically.
The thing is: if I don’t know what I need, on a specific and personal level, then I simply cannot come to a full place of understanding on how to be my best self. I wind up guilt-ridden and stressed out for the ways in which I’m a perceived failure, when in reality most things simply come back to an expression of the personality with which you’ve been gifted, and the ways in which that plays out in your life in positive or negative ways (being aware of this can help you know how to avoid the negative pitfalls).
In addition to knowing your personality, you also need to take into account your life circumstances. Do you have young kids and are constantly sleep-deprived? You may need to be careful to go to bed early enough so that you’re rested well enough to keep Grumpy Yelly Mom away. Do you have a really stressful job? You’ll need to fiercely guard the margin in your life to just decompress on something totally unrelated to work, like a good book or TV show. Are you one of those families that’s always on the go from one activity to the next? You’ll all probably benefit from intentionally planning in some low-key, low-commitment weekends once in a while.
Knowing yourself is not a self-centred, naval-gazing thing – it’s a wise move for anyone wishing to be more at peace with themselves and their role in the world around them.
And it looks differently for different people, of course. So the important thing is to discover exactly what makes YOU tick. What is your personality type? What are your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to living the life that you want?
I am flat out in love with the MBTI – it’s the gold standard in personality testing, and it’s sheer brilliance makes me jump up and down excited (nerd alert, hello!) every time I learn another little detail about myself that makes SO MUCH SENSE. Take a free, shortened version of the test online, here. And here’s another version that I love.
I also have recently become intrigued by the Enneagram. A fellow blogger, Leigh Kramer, has written about it extensively. It is utterly fascinating to me, and I’d love to learn more about it. Here’s her main post about it. She also wrote about the enneagram and blogging, and here’s a little peek inside my blogging brain (according to which type I *think* that I am).
I am in introvert, which really teaches me a lot about what I need to recharge my energies and be on top of my game. I need quiet time. In a cave in the mountains beyond all human contact except for my computer with internet, preferably. Although, I’ll settle for my desk in my room with the door shut.
If I don’t get a little bit of that – I start to go bonkers within a few days. This is also an area of danger for me, as I can easily slip in to sabotaging my next day by staying up late drinking in that glorious silence after everyone has gone to sleep. I have to be careful here.
Another thing that I’ve learned that I need is to pay attention to how I feel about a task. By the way: Chris is the opposite – he’s an ESFJ – and thinks this is ridiculous… which is exactly my point! We all have different needs! Anyway, here’s what I mean:
My friend Megan is hugely into the MBTI stuff also, and she always has brilliant little nuggets of wisdom to share whenever we chat about this stuff. She said this a few months ago, regarding the INFP/ENFP types:
“One of our inferior functions is Introverted Sensing. This is the function that allows us to ENJOY organizing systems and making schedules, It is the function that, in any type, desires predictability and patterns. It is the function that allows us to work really well within routines. SO! What this means is we CAN form new habits and we CAN create routines we look forward to! The biggest hurdle is our feelings about getting to the point of forming that new habit.
For example, the laundry thing. If you would have suggested that to me a few months ago, I would have laughed and said I’d never follow through on it. But guess what? I powered through the discomfort for a few weeks and now I am SO PROUD OF MYSELF for doing it, that my pride in sticking with it is the feeeeeeeeeling I need to keep going with it.
We have a hard time going where emotion does not lead us. If we can do the hard work of forming a new habit/routine/schedule/whatever, eventually the feeeeelings will follow and be there to keep us motivated.”
That’s exactly me, right there. Maybe you’re an INFP or ENFP like me, or Megan. Or maybe you’re the opposite and you think this is hokey, like my hubby. My point is – know who you are and what drives you so that you can care for yourself in a way that makes you love your life and the people in it more effectively, freely, and rewardingly.
So. Where does this leave me? Well – super encouraged, for one. I know that the biggest need I have in caring for myself is to stop letting myself get trapped in my negative cycles of procrastination, overwhelm, and lack of discipline.
I need some flexible structure in my life because I simply cannot afford to let myself slip under that surface down into the murky waters of overwhelm and procrastination. Because it doesn’t come naturally to me, I must work to make it happen.
So I need to do 3 things here:
1. Pay attention to my feelings about the task and find a way to make it fun/rewarding.
2. Force myself to push through the not-at-all fun or rewarding part at the beginning, and focus on how good it will feel to get ‘er done.
3. Come up with some new systems, routines, tricks, and hacks for creating more self-discipline in my life.
I’ve gotten started on these goals with these tools:
Top left, clockwise: the new and beautiful Ricci Family Routine (which I can share here in more detail if there’s interest), the new task management system I found that I love, called Trello, a tool for time-tracking that I’d like to try out, called Rescue Time, and a free ebook from Jennifer at Conversiondiary.com that I got when I preordered her new memoir.
What do you need for self-care? Do you know?
Have you written about self-care and/or knowing who you are? Link up your posts here so we can share the love!
Next week we’ll be chatting about Embracing Self-Care: Health and Spirituality, so get your wheels churning on that topic, and be ready to link up your posts next week. Let’s learn and grow together, shall we?