Self-care is like flogging a dead horse

Photo by Jeremy Bishopon Unsplash

Not that I like flogging horses, dead or alive. I am more for leading them, gently, for directing them without the use of force. I am more for letting them feel and sense where I want them to go.

When it comes to self-care, you might think I am selfish. I tend to work hard. And my body will ask me to slow down and rest when I ought to. I can listen, or I can ignore the signs. I prefer listening. That means I stop, recover, and slow down when I need to, no matter what. At that point, I say no to any demands and requests that would interfere with my recovery. For the sake of me, I can not budge. Maybe it is not so selfish after all.

So what is the problem with self-care? It is good when I learn to look after myself as an individual. It is not wrong when I take responsibility for how I feel. There is maturity in that, don’t you agree?

Let me tell you what is wrong with it.

Self-care has become a thing only because well-being, slowing down to feel, taking adequate rest, and tuning in to what resonates is alien to most, including standing up for what we believe in and sharing our emotional range and expression. Not rocking the boat and fitting in tends to be the norm, at the cost of sanity, health and well-being.

Fitting in is a valid survival strategy, no doubt. But is it serving me, fitting into a system that at its heart does not care? It seems more like a trauma response, not securing survival at all.


Self-care is marketed and sold to me in the context of a society that does not support well-being. On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence that it supports exploitation and the depletion of resources. And I am supposed to be okay with that.

Isolation, division, discontent, misdirection and disconnection make me buy into self-care as a way out. If only I sort myself out, then I am going to be happy.

Self-care, therefore, covers up issues that have to do with a non-sustainable construct rather than with me as a flawed individual. It might turn me into a better functioning person but does not go to the root of the problem. Much like pain medication that makes me numb and takes away the motivation for change. If I can not feel the pain, why would I withdraw my hand from the burning stove?

But here is the thing. I noticed that my well-being depends on your well-being also. I am not partial and indifferent to see you suffering and struggling. I can not be well when you are not because your state of being is affecting me.
I can feel you once I begin to feel myself. I cry when you cry, I laugh when you laugh, and you laugh when I do. Therefore, it is in my self-interest for you to be well. I can not live without people I care for and cherish. I can not live without the people I share disagreements with and who challenge me. I can not live without community.

The only way to protect me from that is to go into isolation, disconnection and distraction. And that seems to be the mode of default in our society, to disconnect.

For me, self-care extends way beyond myself and includes you. So what do I call it now?

Wolfgang Lee musings

One Comment

  1. I like that you are “putting yourself out there” Peter – I will make time to explore earlier musings – thank you 🙏❤️
    Doug x

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