SELF-CARE

May 29, 2013 § 9 Comments

[image source]

my position is this – self love isn’t enough. Not even close. It is just the beginning, a fundamental beginning, but just the beginning. Loving yourself, taking care of yourself – these things are important, they are undeniably necessary – but if all we do is turn inward, if our goal is only to take care of ourselves, then we are limiting our practice and we are missing out on accountability to each other, our communities and our shared struggles and resilience. We are missing opportunities to build communities of care.

The above is an excerpt from a fantastic article on ‘Decolonizing Yoga,’ that beautifully articulates my own feelings towards a particular aspect of the health and wellness movement, and that is the limitation of the belief that we are solely responsible for our health and ‘destiny.’ To argue that this is not true at all is to undermine our efforts and the power we have over our own lives, which we do have to a degree. But to embrace it wholeheartedly and uncritically is to neglect, ignore and even reinforce the classist, racist, exclusive and oppressive powers that are in place, which undoubtedly effect peoples’ health, choices and lifestyles. I believe with all my heart that a part of being a healthy and well citizen is to reach out and help others too – and not limit that help to only those who can afford it, or who, by virtue of certain characteristics, will be readily embraced and congratulated for their efforts, whilst others remain on the margins. In short, I believe we are as accountable for others’ health and wellbeing as our own.  

If you’re interested in reading more critical perspectives on self-care, I highly recommend following this conversation that was started last year on ‘Organising Upgrade,’ which had a wonderful array of opinions and responses to this topic.

So now, the million dollar question: what do YOU think??

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§ 9 Responses to SELF-CARE

  • a says:

    healthwarning: completely lazy response, I’ve not gone and read the links yet! NONETHELESS: it strikes me that conceptualising self as being both an individual and belonging to a community dictates that we are responsible for both our own care/that of others – and that we should be able to also lean on our community (perfect world, obv). What I find difficult is the question of degree – in our culture, the scale balances towards the individual; in others, to the community (i.e. self means nothing without community). How much should we be doing for both, and how do we find that balance – is it society-dependent?

    my gosh, you’ve got me thinking about the Big Things today!

    • Natalia says:

      Ahh, the big question!! I really don’t know. And it’s so hard to know too, when we’ve been socialised in a society that so highly values the individual… So I know I can bleat on about ‘community responsibility’ ’til I’m blue in the face, but deep down, I still hold onto the belief that I am ‘unique,’ and ‘special’ to some degree – not to mention, I like my own space! 😉 BUT even though we don’t know what that perfect balance is, I do know that our current system is *definitely* out of balance, and in my own lifetime, I’ll try my best to support it tipping a little!

  • raechel says:

    I was hooked on that Organizing Upgrade article and the conversation that ensued when I saw it last year. So many important perspectives, and so excellent that people within the “health and wellness” world are coming out and proclaiming their critical relationship with the movement. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

    • Natalia says:

      It’s thanks to you that I came across that conversation!! It was SO refreshing coming across these perspectives, when up until that point, I was getting so frustrated that the wellness world seemed to be devoid of this attitude (glad I was wrong!!)

  • saaahrie says:

    Nah, I don’t think that we’re responsible for others. If everybody just takes care of themselves, everybody gets taken care of, right? That’s just good logic.
    I’m kidding. But, sadly, this statement is a quote by one of the most intelligent people, I know. And I heard variations of it soooo many times, even from fellow development helpers.

  • Lene says:

    Nicely written Tali. I think it connects well to the thoughts that communities and communication are important. Communities provide great opportunities for people including connecting (which I see as super important in a time where internet tries to substitute ‘real’ interaction, it provides support, sharing ideas, feelings, but also things such as community gardens.

  • […] of my frustration with the largely a-political stance of the health-and-wellness world (see here), but every now and again, I feel the need to reiterate the point. /minor rant over, moving […]

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