Wednesday, November 30

Take care with so much self-care

we live hyperconnected and hyperstimulated (digital stimuli, the others already know each one). We are constantly receiving information through multiple channels. Book presentations, interesting courses, weekend getaways, songs, vacation photos of I don’t know who. And these new channels are wonderful for broadcasting. That’s what social networks are for, to make us visible, to publicize our work, our concerns, our lives, and if we are happy with our body, to show it to the world. For that we are worth it.

The exaltation of the self has become a permanent and omnipresent activity, promoted by social networks, although they are not the only elements involved. We have gone from meeting for coffee with four friends to airing what is happening to us via Instagram or Facebook, waiting for the people we have as ‘friends’ to validate what we show. We feed, more and more, on the digital approval of what we do. Fresh food for our ego. It seems to me that the digital environment makes self-centeredness much easier. And it is not the same as selfishness, although they are family; in fact there is the typology of egocentric egoism.

I think there is a very thin border between this selfishness and self-care, between increasing self-esteem and valuing what we are, think and feel with considering that we have to preserve our well-being at all costs, even if that means not taking into account the other people. They tell us that you have to love yourself, pamper yourself, treat yourself, not judge yourself, take hot baths (whoever is lucky enough to have a bathtub) and do mindfulness. That way we will be better and we will be able to offer the best of ourselves to the world. They tell us that it’s good to be selfish, although selfishness is defined as an excessive interest in oneself, without caring for other people. This does not seem to affect those of us who have been socialized as women much, since our natural tendency has always been to care for and be more aware of the environment than of ourselves. In fact, when we have tried to set aside a little time and energy, many of us have been called ‘selfish’.

But now something peculiar is happening. We live in a sentimental dance that oscillates between the interior, the intimate, and the exterior, the collective, the social. In this dance we have to take the right steps so as not to lose the balance between what is ours and what is foreign. What is ours and what is not? What should we tolerate from others and what should we put limits on for our own good? Identifying the elements of our lives that cause us discomfort or do not bring us positive sensations is great, but in that ‘I take care of myself’ sometimes we lose perspective of the vital circumstances of other people, of understanding attitudes or behaviors, although we would never do the same, of empathize with someone who has had a different life story to ours. Where do we put the border when the person in front of me is racialized, when he has crossed an ocean, when he has been a victim of sexist violence, of sexual abuse, when he lives with his family with barely 400 euros a month, when he works 14 hours a day to charge the minimum wage? How much to put self-care in interactions when the others, of which we are or have been many, do not even have the possibility of considering what this self-esteem thing is because they are (logically) focused on surviving?

Sometimes we lose the perspective that there are people with whom we interact who have had a life path totally different from ours due to different structural injustices and, therefore, are going to maintain a different relationship with certain emotions such as anger, rage, sadness, frustration or despondency. I’m not saying that you have to justify any behavior based on people’s complicated experiences, but I do believe that it is possible to put aside that omnipresent self-care a little and exercise understanding, empathy, support and generosity. Even though they’re hurting us? Obviously not. If the objective towards which the discomfort is focused is me, then we are talking about something else.

Since the importance of mental health began to spread some time ago, it seems that going to therapy is widespread and that it should be necessary and affordable for all. Yes, psychological therapy helps a lot, there is no doubt, it offers you tools and resources that your friends are not going to know how to offer you. But it also helps to think, reflect, make an effort to understand. Take time to stop and analyze situations. Debating, arguing with others also opens up exuberant paths for you.

I think that in this path of self-care sometimes we forget something important. “Become the best version of you”, tells us the so-called positive psychology. But the best version of you never blooms only from you, but it is together with the community where it sprouts. And, besides, the best version of you for what? Aren’t we beings tending towards the collective? What use is a search for individualistic happiness to me if those close to me live daily with a malaise rooted in the social? Perhaps everything would be easier if, instead of focusing all the time on the absolute and predatory Self, we tried to be the best version of ourselves by interacting with the world and with others. Sow, water and take care to get a harvest but, above all, to share it. That way there will be no storm that can spoil it.