I would like to take this opportunity to persuade those who think self-care is selfish to a new way of thinking. My opinion is that self-care is one of the most selfless things a person can do. I have found that I am a better person when I take care of myself.
I have found a pattern when it comes to men and self-care. They don’t seem to take good care of themselves at all. I have to say the exception to my anecdotal evidence is my dad who I would say is very aware of what he needs to function optimally. I’m not sure what it is about men that they don’t think they need to take care of themselves. I should say before I dive into this topic, not all men are abhorrent when it comes to self-care. I have not done a comprehensive and scientific study on the subject. I am simply pontificating on my own experiences with men in my life. If you identify as male and take good care of yourself, this rant is not referring to you.
I would like to start by defining self-care. I define self-care as doing things that help one feel well in the long run. It can look different for everyone and not everyone has access to practicing the same habits I do. For me, self-care looks like eating foods that help me feel well, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and exercising in a way I find enjoyable. I would also add to this list tending to my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It’s taken me a long time to get my priorities in order. I don’t know it all and I’m still learning. What astounds me is that men don’t seem interested in learning about self-care.
I cannot count the number of times where I’ve been interacted with a gentleman and they aren’t feeling well. They might be in pain, agitated, or just not in a god mood. I will ask “What’s going on?” in hopes that there’s something I can do to help them feel better. The answers range from “I slept five hours last night” to “I haven’t been to the doctor despite needing to” and my favorite “ I just didn’t feel like it”. These are not men who cannot afford and or cannot take care of themselves. These are men with resources and the time to do so. After I hear a response like what I described above, I might say “Oh, I’m sorry. I hope you’re able to sleep/go to the doctor/feel better soon”. I’m then met with a shrug of the shoulders and a response of “ It’s fine”.
The only thing is that it’s not fine. Men have shorter life expectancies for many reasons and one of them is that they don’t practice self-care. Is it fine that people have to live without fathers, sons, friends, uncles, grandfathers, and others because self-care was neglected? Engaging in the habits I mentioned above actively shortens life expectancy. If you don’t go to the doctor, how will you know if you have prostate cancer? If you’re sleeping very little, your body can’t heal. I used to feel angry about this and I dug deeper into the anger. I discovered that beneath the anger was deep sadness. When the men in my life don’t take care of themselves, I feel sad. It saddens me because I know they’re hurting. I also know that the lack of self-care means less time with them in the short and long term. It took me a long time to realize that if someone doesn’t take care of themselves even after you beg them to, it’s a reflection on them, not me. I used to think it was a judgment of whether or not I was good enough for them to be motivated to care for themselves. Now I know that a lack of self-care reflects something going on internally with that person. I know this because I decided to take care of myself because it was important to me, not because of anyone else.
I hope that the men in my life and in general will decide that they are worth being well.
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