Self-Care Might Be a Bar Too High
I’ve been using the phrase ‘self-care’ for years. It’s increasingly become the easiest short-hand for saying, “Hey, I’m prioritizing MY needs, for once.” It’s become common-place, and with that, probably a tad overused. It’s thrown around like an easy catchphrase and the remedy for every problem. Tired? Self-care. Burnt-out? Self-care. Grieving? Self-care.
But, over the last year or so, the phrase has really started to irk me. “Self-care…” Somehow, it feels like a burden. Images of yoga class and long bubble baths frankly make me annoyed. More to-dos to add to the list I already feel guilty about not getting through.
So, on my quest for better language, I’ve landed for now, at self-love. Let me explain why.
Loving yourself is hard work. In fact, sometimes it feels f–king impossible. The world is constantly sending us a million messages that are anything but loving, in fact, they can be downright hateful. Blatant injustice, racism, sexism, all of the ‘isms and phobias, mainstream beauty standards, state violence, and the list goes on. It leaves any human being feeling unworthy, disconnected, angry, terrified, and exhausted. Especially over the last few months, everything is heightened as awareness of our broken systems continue to level up.
If this is our current reality, how can we possibly be expected to add ‘self-care’ items to an ever-growing to-do list? No thank you.
At the same time, I’m reminded of Audre Lorde’s quote (one of my all-time favorites): “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
And it’s true. We must keep ourselves alive and healthy if we are to live to fight, and to love, another day.
So, how about the language of self-love? IMHO, it’s a term that accurately and energetically describes the process of just being, throughout all of the ups and downs. Love yourself when things are going well, love yourself when things are going badly.
And yeah, it’s going to be really hard sometimes to look in the mirror (literally or metaphorically) and not attack what you see. Self-love is an ongoing journey of getting to know yourself, looking inward and seeing what comes up, and then being willing to embrace it with your whole heart. Even the messy sh-t.
Sometimes loving yourself means setting boundaries. Sometimes loving yourself means giving yourself permission to act out. We love children even when they’re ‘misbehaving’. Can’t we give ourselves that same gift of unconditional love?
Say to yourself, “No matter what, I will always be there for you.”
Again, self-love is not about doing, it’s about being.
So, on the precipice of the holidays and New Year, let’s all practice some self-love. Let’s give ourselves the permission to do whatever we need to do in any given moment, and do it with the same compassion we would show our very best friend.
Let me know what you think about all of this. And who knows, maybe a year from now all of this won’t feel right either. And if that happens, I will try my best to love myself through that journey, as well.