Self-Care Is About More Than “Me”

Self-Care Tip #208 – If for no other reason, get friendly with yourself simply to survive and you’ll see what that means later.

my self care reminders

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It is not unusual to think of “selfish-care” when we hear “self-care.”  I can imagine children gripping their mother’s skirts more tightly, husbands pulling their helpmate’s hands away from this influence, church-folk sniffing over rejections to service-calls or friends personalizing the way their phone doesn’t ring as much as it used to.  This is a natural response, although it is a false perception.  Think – feeling suffocated by her penance, he’s wearing a martyr’s cross or she’s giving to us from victimhood.  Those are the times we would rather not receive the gifts of time, person or anything dripping with that kind of guilt and implied debt. This kind of service comes from someone impoverished, giving on credit.

I’ve been known to say, “We can’t give what we don’t have.”  Or as Jasmine said,

You can’t give someone a ride if you’re all out of gas!

So when is self-care selfish?  To be true to what self-care is, I’d say almost never.  However, because the question comes from such an intuitive fear in any of us, “never” can’t be an entirely fair answer.  To answer it best though, we need to turn it over and go back to trying to discover why we wanted self-care first.  What brought us here?  Jacqui said it well in yesterday’s post-comments:

Ditto about ‘self-care boot camp’. I may steal that one. You’ve given me permission to be selfish if need be. It’s all about self-preservation.

Sometimes we are reduced to self-preservation.  It has an intensity to it, a survival mode of live or die, which may be appropriate to a desperate condition in life.   Many of us know what that feels like.  So in this context, self-care is in part about survival.  Alright.  But is survival a selfish need?  Are we worth that little?  Does the life in us hold value only at that level?

rejuvenation.self.care.logo

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You hear the clomping my words are making and can follow that I answer, no.  Survival has far reaching significance.  I matter.  You matter.  We have value beyond our own selves and Me booting up to live better also ripples over those same infinite number of connections.

I am confident that if for no other reason than getting friendly with yourself simply to survive, you will still see at least some of what more that means later.  Self-care is about more than Me.

Question:  When do you think self-care is selfish?  Why do you think self-care is not?  Please tell me your story.

Self-Care is For Everyone, Regardless of Circumstance

Freedom from Want (painting)

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Self-Care Tip #166 – To do self-care, believe that self-care is for you as it is for everyone.

How do we explain self-care to someone still in a deprived situation?  Deprived of freedoms the rest of us assume:  access to water, time, many choices, and so on.  Some time ago we talked about self-care being ours because we have freedom.  Because of democracy, we are free.  Because of those who fought and still fight for our rights, we are free.  Because of our essence, we are free.  We compared it to the Gettysburg Address of all things, and even when writing the blog-post, I was surprised that the correlation was so natural and right.

Carl, our dependable kind cynic, commented on the post Taking Care of Yourself is The Best Part of Your Treatment Cocktail:

Many I know can’t just do what they want to do.  Chained.  Chained by drudgery of work.  (You do not quit at the iron mill to become a poet, not in this economy.)  Chained by responsibility as family supporter.  Limited time and finances.  Limited by age or illness.  The best these people can do is try to find some brief periods of quality hobby or playtime.  Some have the tenacity to survive in spite of, as I did.  But facing the realities profoundly inhibit wellness, and depression deepens and immobilizes us on the worst days.

Many days I try to distill what self-care is and what it means, and it seems to change on me or grow another way just when I think I’ve got it.

…It is accountability for “Me” now and in the future.  It is not accountability for my past, for chaos or for the choices of others.

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…It is freedom.  Personal freedom to say, “This is my body that God gave me and I will choose to take care of it.”

…It is working hard to do what is in the best interest of “Me.”  It is knowing these things may not come easily or naturally or by chance.  Self-care does not mean doing what is selfish or not in the best interest of others.

Is everyone free?  I think we’d all agree, no, in an immediate sense such as, “Freedom from want,” or freedom from mental illness.  But perhaps we might wonder together and even agree about an eternal sense of freedom that is unchanged by circumstance.

Should everyone work hard at taking care of himself regardless of circumstance?  Yes.

Is everyone accountable to himself?  I’d say it depends in which paradigm we’re talking about.

However we answer these questions, I don’t think we really have a chance at self-care for “Me” if we don’t believe it is for everyone everywhere.

Questions: What do you say?  How do you define self-care?  What about those who are limited and chained, as Carl described?