Is it self-care or self-sabotage?

Self-care is probably one of the top 10 words/phrases of current times that is tossed around without any real thought behind it. People literally call anything self-care nowadays—from washing their face to going to the mall and everything in-between. Self-care has become one of those buzz-words that has been thrown around so much that now it kind of irritates me when I hear it.

There is one reason in particular: a lot of the time, people use it as a justification for their mediocrity. Self-care comes in many forms but none of them should include being stagnant in life because you don’t feel like showing up for yourself or others. Self-care is supposed to be a form of self-improvement, but there are a ton of people using self-care as a form of self-sabotage–and they might not even realize it!

Here’s what I mean:

It’s easier to say we took a 3-hour nap mid-day “in the name of self-care” rather than to admit it was because we were procrastinating on the things that we need to do for ourselves to move the needle, such as studying or working on a project. When you’re trying to eat healthier, it’s easier to indulge and eat crappy food all day long and tell everyone it’s fine because it’s “self-care” than to admit that we’ve strayed from our goals just a little. We will do anything to take the blame off of ourselves for our imperfect moments. 

It’s just ironic to me because in my eyes, self-care is a tool we should use to focus on ourselves in the midst of caring for others— and yet what we end up using it for is to avoid our highest selves. Our highest selves who want better than mediocre. We use self-care as an excuse to stay comfortable and to “not be so hard on ourselves.”

The problem begins to materialize when we weren’t hard on ourselves to begin with and still find it necessary to put a face mask on and watch Netflix for 5 hours. We no longer need to be exhausted from being our best selves to justify our naps, our indulgences, or our hiding from the world. We just call it self-care and keep on keeping on. 

Now, the issue in and of itself is not watching Netflix for 5 hours, but rather it’s calling watching Netflix for 5 hours self-care when really it’s self-sabotage in the form of laziness, indifference, procrastination, avoidance, etcetera. In other words, why can’t we just call things what they are? 

Also, “self-care” is more than just bubble baths and rainbows. It’s showing up for yourself so that you can show up in your own life and for others. Making sure your cup is full so you can fill the cups around you. Sometimes, self-care is ugly and not Instagram-worthy but from that ugliness comes beauty and growth. Just what the world needed.

Self-care looks different depending on the situation. Sometimes self-care is checking your bank accounts to ensure financial stability, sometimes it’s lying around doing nothing because you’ve run yourself exhausted from the week. Maybe it’s saying no to plans with friends because you’ve got to get up early the next day.

Self-sabotage always looks like letting yourself down. Always. It’s knowing you have more productive and fruitful things to do and not doing them for no reason other than that you don’t want to or don’t feel like it. It’s telling yourself you’re going to do something and then not doing it. It’s not checking your bank account and spending frivolously. It’s lying around doing nothing after a day of doing nothing. It’s choosing to go out with friends even though you have an early morning, and then wondering where you went wrong the next day when you didn’t get out of bed.

It’s a fine line, really. So how do we know which we’re to partake in? We’ve got to ask ourselves: “how is my future self going to feel about this decision?”. When all is said and done, if your future self feels energized and full, you’ve done your self-care. If your future self feels disappointed and annoyed, you’ve self-sabotaged. You’ve just got to be conscious in your decision-making.

Remember that life is full of choices and that the easier, effortless choice is always the one that’s most attractive. But it isn’t always the one that moves things along for us. It feels so much better to stay snuggled up on the couch than to get up and go to the gym or do a home workout. But staying snuggled up day after day isn’t going to get you closer to your goals. It’s self-sabotage. It’s choosing not to show up for yourself despite your aspirations that keep making their way to the forefront of your mind.

To be clear, I’m all about self-care, when done right. If you need a break from all of the demands of life, take a break. If you need that doughnut after weeks of eating healthy, eat the doughnut. If you need a new pair of shoes because you’ve worn your old ones into the ground, buy some new shoes. If you want to take a bubblebath because you’ve had a long day and bubblebaths make you happy, take a bubblebath (and don’t forget the bath bomb!).

I’m all about doing what’s best for you (i.e., self-care). And, I’m writing this because I can sometimes find myself in ruts where days or weeks have gone by and all I’ll have to show for it is new clothes, a mani-pedi, having finished the whole ‘Jane the Virgin’ series, a stomach full of Chick-fil-A, and no progress on my projects and/or life goals. Obviously, those things in the absence of fulfillment/accomplishment are not what’s best for me, and I know you would probably agree for yourself.

TL;DR: It’s very easy to ride the waves of self-sabotage disguised as self-care without even realizing it. When deciding on whether or not to laze around, ask yourself how you’ll feel about lazing around later on. Moral of the story: don’t take breaks unless you really need them.

Always take care of yourself, and realize that sometimes taking care of yourself involves doing the difficult, icky things that no one wants to do. What are some forms of self-care that you partake in? Are they really self-care, or do they sometimes show up later as having been self-sabotage? Let’s chat down in the comments!

xx,
Melina Renee

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A visionary who will change the world.

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