"When we self-regulate well, we are better able to control the trajectory of our emotional lives and resulting actions based on our values and sense of purpose."
-Amy Leigh Mercree
With the new year inspiring all part of our lives, it's important to address this idea of 'self-care' that is so widely preached. Self-care, simply defined, is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress. However, these lines have seemed to be blurred to a significant extent lately.
Our society has taken a few steps back in the treatment of our fellow peers lately. Whether it's the force of authoritarian violence, neo-nazi rallies, objectification of women, or denial of human rights to various non-dominant groups-- there is no denying that America has some strides to make. But how?
How, in such an individualistic society, do we learn that depending on people is a vulnerable strength rather than a weakness? In a country that places emphasis on being self-made, we are trained to believe that any form of codependency makes one weaker. So, we practice "self-care". We cut off those confrontational friends that try to change our life plans. We toss the relationships that don't support us in every decision we make. We quit jobs that make us unhappy after three weeks. We label everything as "toxic" when in reality it's just something that has denied us of that American instant gratification we crave so innately.
Relationships, whether friendships, intimate connections, or professional careers are not a singular commitment. So many apathetic actions are cloaked under this blanket of "self-care". There is a limit between watching out for your mental health and using it as an underlying excuse to hurt those around you. Just because you are troubled for a short period doesn't always mean that the person is "toxic" to you. Sometimes, it serves as an indicator that this relationship is worth working through and working for.
Now, I am a huge proponent for taking care of yourself in daily activities! Through a life of mindfulness and meditation, memories with good friends, and hobbies that fulfill you, it is still important to check in with yourself and see what attitudes need to be managed. But instead of making rash decisions and dropping everyone around you in your life, take these feelings inwards and work on yourself. If you feel a relationship not working, ask yourself whether its a conflict of interest or ideology, maybe even a miscommunication--instead of breaking things off and insisting you're an "independent woman" who was "being held back". There is pride in working through issues, but only if you allow yourself to be codependent.
This is by far my greatest struggle in life. The second things go wrong in a relationship, I just convince myself that I am independent--I was on my own before and I can sure as hell do it again! I convince myself that the other person just wasn't "the one" or that "if my friendships are meant to be, they'll just...be?" I'm here to tell you that I understand what it's like being an independent person trying to let people in. But please, just don't use your inability to transparently work through issues as "self-care."