In celebration of my upcoming book, Selfcarefully, I’m sharing five of my favorite sections throughout December. (Read more about how I wrote this book on metro rides and with lots of support here.)
In this next essay, I discuss how easily we can get confused about our self-care when we try to practice it within a consumerist society. Unless we live off the grid, our lives are bombarded by daily advertising messages telling us that the answer to our problems is to buy more stuff.
And yet, we know in our hearts that real self-care has to go deeper than things we can purchase. I believer it’s an immense act of self-care to critique the system that tells us we are never enough, and realize that we can be resilient and joyful without buying a single thing.
If this message of anti-consumerist self-care resonates with you, please preorder your copy of Selfcarefully by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign.
Thanks for reading and I’ll look forward to sharing the next section soon!
Self-care and Consumerism
I often feel confused about how to practice self-care in a culture that equates worth with productivity and buying power. It’s not surprising that my clients and I put too much pressure on ourselves to do more. Nor is it surprising that we buy lots of things that seem like self-care (gym memberships, protein powder, ten different shades of lipstick, etc.)—yet they don’t ever really work.
Consumerism sells the problems and the solutions in one. When I watch commercial TV, I see enticing ads of happy families eating pizza together followed by monthly diet-food subscription plans. They tell us we should be happy all the time (just for the record, no human should be happy all the time), and if we aren’t, there’s something we can buy to make us happier. When that doesn't work, we buy more and more of both the problems and the solutions.
Try as we might, it's hard to escape this influence. The idea that we can buy our way to happiness is woven into our cultural fabric. Without even realizing it, we've placed time, money, and emotional energy into filling the empty places inside of ourselves with stuff that doesn’t work. We lose faith in ourselves.
I’ve found that it helps to talk about our self-care struggles in a community. When we’re honest and vulnerable enough to share our experience of always feeling behind (scarcity!), we see that we aren't alone. What felt like a character defect now feels like a common problem. Bravely, we can support each other to experiment with different solutions—like buying less and listening to ourselves more. We begin to find some real self-care traction (abundance!).
When we feel like we are failing, we must consider that we live in a culture that profits from us feeling like failures. We can make this influence conscious—and we can consciously choose to practice self-care, anyway. When enough of us believe that a different way is both possible and necessary, we will begin to create a culture founded on the truth that we are already enough.