Yes, I said it and I’ll say it again. Self-care is harming you.
What is Self-Care?
First of all, we need to define this thing that I am claiming does damage to you.
According to the self-care forum,
“self care is about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them”
This probably doesn’t sound like a bad thing and that’s because it isn’t. But as someone who only became accustomed to the term about a year ago, I have to admit that this isn’t what I was initially made to believe.
Self-care seems to be the new big thing. As bloggers and influencers continue to exploit mental health issues for hits (yeah I said this too, don’t @ me), the definition of self-care becomes unclear and in some cases misleading. Just like with Cultural Appropriation, once social media grabs a hold of something ‘new’, it twists and turns it until nobody understands it anymore so that ‘fake deep’ Twitter can have their supposedly intellectually stimulating arguments. But I’ve clarified the true meaning for you, so what’s the problem?
Self-Care is Harming You
The problem is that ignorance when coupled with confusion leads to stupidity. I’ve noticed that there are a lazy few that are using self-care as an excuse to avoid challenges and ultimately progression. The lazy few I noticed this amongst was myself. Yes, me, Tisha: I am the ignorant and confused person that is stunting my own growth based on the definition I chose for self-care.
To make life easier for myself, here is how I defined self-care:
“recognising what takes you out of your ‘happy place’ and avoiding it at all costs”
If watching the news would make me angry, I didn’t watch it.
If talking to or about a certain person brought up unwanted feelings, I ended the conversation.
If the company of certain people made me comfortable, I stayed in isolation.
These all seem like fairly reasonable things to do right? But when self-care meant refusing to step out of my comfort zone, my self-care was harming me.
There have been several serious life decisions I have had to make that I haven’t even bothered thinking about because of my misconstrued understanding of self-care. Great opportunities have passed by due to fear because the challenge made me uncomfortable and so self-care said no. I was using self-care as an excuse for my laziness.
Self-care doesn’t mean Stagnation
Based on my definition, anything that made me slightly nervous was unnecessary. I believed that anything that would cause me stress or sleepless nights wasn’t worth the wahala*. But this isn’t true! A friend of mine introduced me to a quote (as she often does) many years ago:
“Life begins outside of your comfort zone”
*Wahala: Nigerian pidgin for difficulty
I’ve mentioned a few times before that my placement year served as a good rest for me: an opportunity to be stress-free. But there were also many times during this period that I felt too comfortable and as though I wasn’t developing. You don’t need to be stressed 100% of the time in order to grow- this isn’t what I’m suggesting. True self-care is definitely important and making time for yourself and your needs is what this means. But when we’re too comfortable, too emotionally stable and sometimes too happy, we find that we aren’t growing, we aren’t pushed and we aren’t really living. To me, living is a process where you strive for the best. This will automatically incur seasons of struggle to prepare you for better things!
A reader once reminded me that emotional stability means ups and downs. We need the downs in order to have the ups; otherwise, it’s a straight line: it’s stagnant.
Self-care means Strength
My self-development journey was once referred to as a quest for happiness. But four years on this is no longer the case. I don’t just want to be a happy person. I want to be a successful person. In order to do this, I need to learn and accept that sometimes life will be hard on me and sometimes this struggle will last a very long period. But it will make me tough, it will make me strong and it will push me out of my comfort zone and force me to grow. I can’t pass up on such opportunities for the sake of self-care. If anything, self-care is encouraging this: progression is my need and I need to step out to meet it!
So this post is for anyone, who like myself, was hiding behind the definition that made life easier.
Be bold, take on life’s challenges and learn how to manage stress when it comes because avoiding it completely won’t help to make you any more successful!
Don’t overdose on your self-care!
“Cole (coal) under pressure, what that make? Diamonds” – J Cole, Return of Simba
All the best,