But isn’t self care…. selfish?
I certainly hope so! It’s about time.
Here’s the deal. If you don’t respect yourself, how can you expect others to respect you? If putting your needs first will disrupt your family system or work situation, then it’s time to pay attention to the system.
In addition to our nurturing natures that put others first (see more about this here), we are pressured by cultural norms to always be giving, to always be self-sacrificing, and to always put other’s needs ahead of our own.
Our modern culture values men and devalues women. Well, for now, anyway. I believe this paradigm is changing.
Cultural “norms” are not normal
Humans have been around for a long time. There are many cave paintings dating 25,000 to 30.000 years in the past. When you look closely, the paintings are about hunting, finding food, and perhaps (probably likely) invoking the spirits for continued sustenance.
What you won’t find there is a blueprint for gender inequality. None. That concept evolved in only the last 5,000 years or so. A mere blip in the timeline of humanity.
For example, archaeological evidence from Çatalhöyük, Turkey, one of the first known human settlements, dating from ~9500 to ~7500 BCE, reveals that society as aggressively egalitarian. Though there is the suggestion of gender roles, there is no indication of hierarchy. Men and women consumed the same diet with no evidence of separation of labor or space.
Then, alongside the rise of agricultural surplus, came unequal distribution of wealth and the class systems that are so destructive to women. It’s like testosterone went into overdrive when there was something to defend – domination became the norm.
But we’re done with that now. Women, especially Western women, no longer require a “protector” or “provider.” Men are learning they have nurturing instincts and are capable parents of infants. They are willing and able to cook a meal for themselves. The tide is turning.
Look, it took ~5,000 years to get to where we are now; it won’t happen overnight. But when we become more egalitarian, and I hope it’s soon, everyone will benefit. (C’mon guys, won’t you feel relieved when the pressure to be a “manly man” is off? You can ease up on the constant comparing!)
Over the centuries, the way women could survive was to capitalize on their capacity for nurturing but it was always outer-directed. You were to take care of your man and take care of your children. In. That. Order. There was also the option to escape by buying into the Madonna/whore model, either becoming untouchably chaste or allowing the abusive behavior to define you.
But you didn’t take care of yourself.
Self-care is the ultimate self-respect. Tuning in to your needs first will ensure that you are fully present for yourself and others. You also serve as a role model for younger women who feel the intense pressure to put others needs ahead of their own.
Is self-care selfish? What do you think?