Self Care Isn’t Necessarily Selfish

Comedian Steven Wright said, “I bought some batteries. But they weren’t included. So I had to buy ’em again.”
As you laugh at that, draw this truth from it. Joy, like batteries, will wear out, need some recharging. Likewise with hope. We’re called to care for others, but also ourselves.

Escape. Retreat to the places — and the souls — that bring you joy. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. Doing so recharges us all to serve humanity. To answer our highest calling.

And, yes, souls can become an oasis.  Remember a conversation, maybe lasting only a moment or two, that renewed you, pulled your heart to its feet again, just as you needed it?  Our lives are made of relationships.

Which brings me to this.  If any relationship in your life is toxic, flee it.  Go, now.  Escape.    No one is called to live under the tyranny of another.  Nation building revolutions are made of people fed up with such a way of life.  Individuals are called to the same force of revolution — a true evolution.  Each of us is a sovereign individual.  We’re not made for repression.  We’re made for liberty. 

Which brings this whole thing full circle, around to the truth that caring for yourself is liberating not only to you, but to those who surround you.  As a writer and a journalist, I meet up with countless stories of people who tried to give themselves a proverbial hug and shoulder much more weight than an individual can take.  It has a way not only of shortening lives, but stunting the legacy of a human life, and often worse.  Too often police end up working dreadful domestic crimes when people refuse to retreat and care for themselves. 

In the wake of the suicide of a friend we shared, a speaker and blogger, Erin Weed, blogged out a mighty eloquent caveat about the violence people inflict on themselves.  Think about those words.  Let the expression “self violence” stand before you, then filter your recent thoughts through it.   Stunning, isn’t it, how often we convince ourselves that we can’t achieve some great thing?  It’s easy to slip, indoctrinated, into the pessimism others have about themselves, letting it go viral to ourselves.  To carry burdens of relentless guilt, self-loathing, self-doubt, even hatred, is a form of violence against our own spirits.  Too often self violence erupts in the kind of violence that makes the worst news.

In She-Rain, I plunge every reader deep into this reality.  I call my protagonist, and many of the people around him, “the chronically underestimated.”  They take to heart dreadful and truly filthy words that make them feel like human trash.  From childhood, they become commiters of self violence.  These people, born to the middle of nowhere, consider themselves less than nothing.  Self care is a thought as distant as the stars.

Yet even a slight encouragement transforms one of them, who transforms another.  In She-Rain, people so easily underestimated defy self violence.  They allow themselves to believe in themselves.  Doing so, they begin to carry themselves well, off to a new shore, a place of retreat, renewal, from which a thriving life goes vertical.  Such a life forms a tower others may climb.  It becomes a retreat all its own, a cathedral of love, true sanctuary, a place of peace, fit for the spirit of God.  Often, only from your well-lived, well-cared-for life can others see the best of their own.  You, well cared for, become another’s sanctuary.

Self care, always selfish?  Nonsense.  Try it. To borrow that simpler and more joyous little metaphor,  see if it doesn’t turn you into Steven Wright’s set of batteries included — empowered to outshine the dark.

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3 Responses to “Self Care Isn’t Necessarily Selfish”

  1. ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS…so very profound and beautiful. I needed this message Michael. Bless you,

  2. heartwritten Says:

    As always, Michael, I am astonished at the beauty and truth in your words. This one speaks to me, ever so loudly. I have been extremely guilty of lacking “self care”. I am working each day to care more for the one who is trying to help others. I’m learning that if I can’t take the time to care for myself, I may develop the inability to help another.

    May God’s unparalleled wisdom and love continue to speak through you and be driven deeply into the hearts and souls of those who are ready and willing to listen. “Take care, Michael!” 🙂

  3. Ladies, thank you!! Cheers to your finest times ahead!

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