Why is self-care a dirty word? Rewiring our reactions and interpretation of self-care

Why is self-care a dirty word?

Rewiring our reactions and interpretation of self-care

I’m thinking out loud here in this blog post. Why? Because that helps with processing and it opens up a dialogue based on others’ perspectives. Subsequently, I encourage a dialogue here. A curiosity if you like.

I was recently offered a small contract for some work that on initial sell to me excited me. After initial yes, then asking more questions I realised the position wasn’t for me. Actually, my gut told me. Our second brain as some people call it. I tuned into my intuition that was telling me something wasn’t right. And indeed, the more I investigated the more I discovered it wasn’t right for me right now. But I’m telling you this story not about the opportunity or the use of my strength of awareness. I share as when I said "thank you but no thank you" the reaction I received did two things. Firstly, it confirmed I made the right decision. And secondly, it affirmed in me a significant problem we have in the workplace, perhaps even our community, and that is, why is self-care a dirty word?

In my decision to not take on this contract I was heavily aware of my belief in wellbeing and the intention of doing no harm. No harm to others or myself. A part of this are practices, belief, rituals, routines and habits connected to energy, boundaries, awareness of dynamics and culture, leadership, possibilities for growth, and opportunities to support others to grow. All this underpins the actual work. But integral to the work. And significantly influenced by care, and this includes self-care.

I believe so much in this.

It oozes out of me in conversation, what I read, what I’m inspired by, who I engage with, what I learn about, how I inquire, what I am curious about and what I believe in.

So, my "thank you but no thank you” conversation included the notion of care and self-care in my decision. Of course, I articulated this. It came from a space of hard work, a curiosity to the bigger picture and the place of self-care. BUT I think I poked the bear! The reaction was not was I expecting. In a raised voice I was told "I was selfish for this decision”. I guess in a funny way this was an indication of disappointment in my decision. Perhaps not the words or volume I would use (cue warning alarms and a solid ah ha moment that indeed my decision was the correct one, but let’s put this to the side as this is not the focus of this post). What I find intriguing is the assumption that care and self-care are selfish. And indeed, that we have moved to a place where we actually say this to people and use it against them, rather than inquire to find out more.

Is making the right decision for you right now really selfish?

Is showing care and compassion for yourself selfish?

Is being aware of your need to care for yourself that much of an issue to others?

Do we resent those who enact self-care?

I thought perhaps we had moved forward in our notions of self-care and that indeed we require care for our self in order to care for others. Maybe not? Or does this reveal that we have a division in our community where there are those who value self-care (and who in themselves maybe grappling with the tilt towards this way of being but are nonetheless beginning to flourish with their explorations) and those who see self-care as selfish (perhaps driven by not getting what they want, blurring of boundaries, power, and or all combinations these things and perhaps other things that we may not be aware of).

So, my questions to you is why is self-care a dirty word? And isn’t it time we rewire our reactions and interpretation of self-care?

What do you think?