Self-Care as an Act of Resistance
Jan 7, 2021
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Audre Lorde
“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.”--bell hooks
I am guessing that you are very familiar with the term self-care. It’s common, mainstream language today.
It’s important to understand where this idea came from and how it’s now being appropriated and sold to us as fancy retreats and spa days. Now, don’t get me wrong I love myself a retreat and I would not say no to a spa day if I was offered it. But, this is indulgent self-care. I’m talking about the radical idea that both Audre Lorde and bell hooks spoke of.
The need to care for ourselves as an act of defiance in a society that is designed with systems that are not meant to care for the collective. Systems that are designed to keep us so overwhelmed and exhausted that we easily burn-out. And when we are burnt out we cannot create the change we wish to see in the world.
And let us not forget that when many of these systems were created the majority of us were expected to care for the few without complaint and with little or no compensation. Slavery is the most extreme example of this. But, also the labor of women who had no other choice but to stay home and care for the home and family while men went to work and had access to capital and power in ways women never did. Or in the case of those with wealth, many of the domestic chores were done by slaves or low paid black and brown women. Today many of the low wage jobs that are overwhelmingly held by women, BIPOC, refugees, and immigrants in our country are caretaking jobs. If you have a loved one in a long-term care facility take a look around. Who is caring for your loved one? Do you know what they are being paid? Is it a living wage?
I could go on for many pages about how the Patriarchy, White Supremacy, Capitalism, Colonialism, and Individualism are slowly killing all of us (including White men), but I won’t. You are spared. Perhaps someday we will have the systems in place that remove the need for us to engage in self-preservation practices so that we come out of the womb thriving regardless of our social location and identities.
Loving and caring for ourselves is necessary for us to stay engaged and on the path towards becoming the truest, highest expression of who we are. Loving and caring for our bodies supports our wellbeing. Behaviors, rituals, and daily habits that keep us healthy and thriving are an act of resistance.
Capitalism and the wellness-industrial-complex have led us to believe that if we are not thriving it is not only our fault, but also our sole responsibility to rectify.
Here is the both/and. These systems are not going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, you may be reading this and not feel a need to dismantle them at all. But, I challenge you to be truthful with yourself about the culture we live in. It is not designed to take care of all of us. We are witnessing this in amplified ways right now.
So, in addition to working our asses off to create a beloved community, one where everyone is free to live their own self-determined path, we must take care of ourselves. We must commit to practices of self-care everyday.
Commit to your rituals. Commit to your dailiy habits. Commit to hitting your reset button. It is a radical act of resistance.
For me there are 6 pillars of my daily self-care:
When I can commit to these practices (and they look a little different everyday) as my non-negotiables, I show up with more clarity, purpose, and energy. This is how I build resilience in my whole body everyday so that I can thrive. So that I can show up for the people in my life. So that I can continue to do the work.
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