I realize this is heretical for a coach to say, but I have a bone to pick with “self care.”
For a long time, I was dutifully checking all the “self care” boxes: eating healthily, going to therapy, taking walks, journaling, acupuncture, the whole nine yards.
I was also resentful the whole time.
I was carrying so much stress that just keeping myself functioning with all these self-care tools was a full time (but revenue-negative) job in itself.
I was mad at my body and mind for feeling the way they did.
I felt broken for being so exhausted all the time, and like I didn’t deserve the cushy self care interventions I was forcing myself to.
So I spent my therapy sessions, chiropractic visits, walks, etc tallying the costs and berating myself for even needing those things in the first place.
I allowed myself no sense of relief, receptivity or enjoyment of the things that were supposed to be lifting me up. They just made me more busy and tired.
But I just kept pushing myself to do more and more in the hopes that it would “fix” me.
Needless to say, this was hardly a restorative experience.
The worst part? I thought if I could just keep going to more appointments and doing more breathing exercises, I would be able to survive the toxic situations I was in, and not have to do the harder thing – actually change the situations.
I’m not suggesting that taking good care of yourself isn’t important. It’s absolutely essential.
But the concept of “self care” has been co-opted in too many situations. It’s a really convenient way to:
Exhausted because your employer is asking you to do 3 full time jobs for the salary of 1? It’s your fault for not using the meditation app subscription your company so generously paid for.
Overwhelmed because you’re having to carry all the family medical caretaking responsibilities alone, on top of everything else? If you just scheduled a massage for yourself, you’d get over it.
Feel unworthy and unlovable? Those extra workouts will at least make you better to look at.
It took a lot of deprogramming for me to get out of the frantic, self-blaming, consumerist approach to “self care” that kept me treading water in unsustainable situations.
Here’s what I ask myself now before I push myself to check another “self care” box:
This litmus test has saved me lots of time, money, and energy since I started using it. It’s also led to unexpected, creative alternatives that I actually enjoy and that recharge my batteries.
What’s your self care regimen? How does it hold up to that litmus test?
What do you want to stop doing? What do you want to start doing?