Self-care can't be selfish.
With so much going on in the world, sometimes talking about skincare or self-care can feel a little off. As someone who believes very much in the power of taking care of yourself as a means to a better world - I do see that the obsession with self (within the self-care movement) can have its downfalls. Can it truly be self-care if we are ignoring the needs of the world around us? Or are we being naive to the nuances that exist?
I find that the gravitation towards the self-care movement can be a means of seeking control. We think that if we control ourselves, we control our destiny, and therefore control the world around us. Of course, this isn't totally true, and most of us know this. While our proactive behaviors make a big difference in how we live our lives, there are still plenty of variables that aren't in our hands.
I suppose someone could make the argument that ignoring everything is the best way to take care of yourself. I definitely understand this point of view. "Protecting your energy". In the world of anything and everything all of the time, there is plenty that should be ignored. Within all things there is a fair amount of balance that has to take place in order to function, but the key word is balance. And that balance comes from both in and outside of ourselves.
Our relationship to self is very important and dictates so much of how we see the world. Certainly mental, physical and emotional health is how we are able to deal with anything. It's how we are able to make positive changes in our lives and the world around us. If we haven't taken care of ourselves, we aren't much good to the rest of the world. This is true.
But what is the next step? What goes beyond self-care?
I like to think that self-care can be a means of caring. Empathy activation. It can be an opportunity to tune in and be proactive in the world around you and outside of you. Too many people live in this space of denial and are caught up in their own world. Either victims to circumstance, or totally unconscious of anything that is happening around them. On one hand, we do need our bubbles to survive. But on the other hand, they can hold us back from a greater understanding of the world around us.
Within a world that gets increasingly more complex as it gets increasingly smaller, the ability to relate to those around you is going to become more important. How might we accomplish this? Maybe we build our strength, our health, and our intuition with caring for ourselves so that we can take it out into the world with grace, kindness and character. So that we can relate to others in a way that feels compassionate and understanding and acknowledges the many roads we all walk down. To be compassionate towards others and relate to the world in a more inclusive way.
I find there to be a certain rigidity to the self-care movement that feels out of line with its intention. Too many rituals and routines are needed to function as a happy and productive person in the world. Sure, you should have some, but how many? Is there a way that we can care for ourselves with a little more ease, and a few less rules?
The world needs more people that are open, loving, and willing to connect with each other. We need more people that are less focused on themselves, and more focused on making the world a better place. Taking energy offline, out of our daily routines, out of a selfish mindset, and being proactive in a way that makes a difference. Finding love for each other at home, and in our communities.
I’m not saying that we all don't need to take time to care for ourselves. Health is such an important part of a life well lived, and within that comes the balance.
Maybe we should just call it care.