For a variety of reasons, I have been rather focused on the difficulties and importance of taking care of yourself. Ultimately, we are responsible for what we eat and what we do, what we think and what we feel, and being good to yourself requires a knowledge and a practice of what is right. Knowledge is easy to talk about, and anyone who really wants to know more about how to live the right way can find many resources that will help provide information that is lacking. If you need to know what exercises one can do–there are many videos and books that can help out, and much free advice that others can give. The same is true with diet and moods and thought process.
But the hard part is practicing. To be honest, most of us are not by nature good to ourselves. We are anxious, we worry when there is nothing dangerous or threatening, we lose sleep over stupid things, we eat the wrong way, and do not take care of our bodies or hearts or minds or spirit. We run ourselves into the ground and then complain to God, or complain to and about others, when we feel bad. Certainly, we can all stand to be better to others, but we have to be good to ourselves, because we ought to know ourselves, and our limits, better than anyone else. And if we take care of ourselves well, we learn better not only how to take care of others, but also to let others know how they need to take care of us.
I am reminded about this in one of the students I have to deal with on a regular basis. She is an immensely intelligent young woman, but not very good at putting that knowledge into practice. As I have watched her struggle (or not) to drink enough water, to keep her moods under control, to eat the right foods (and not eat the wrong ones), I recognize that I could probably stand to do a bit better in these areas myself. When we see others, we often see mirrors of our own behavior and how that appears to others, and sometimes that is not a pretty picture or the way we really want to be or appear.
The more that is asked of someone, the better that person has to be at keeping a close eye on all aspects of life, making sure that one’s example is a good one to model. This is something I am very attentive to myself, and very sensitive about concerning others also. What I find is that leadership opportunities are not about power–rather they are tests of your character, exposing weaknesses you never knew you had and forcing you to deal with them promptly and completely, and also opportunities to demonstrate love and concern for others. We can only take care of others if we first take care of ourselves, though sometimes we can help ourselves by helping others, if we are wise and careful. But, obviously, that is a big if. I know it is something I work on all the time myself, struggling to get better. Perhaps someday I will know it well enough to teach others.