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Self-Care: A Philosophy

  • Posted on January 4, 2013 at 9:00 AM

The development of a worldview and a belief system is one of the most important of our lives. This usually occurs from some default process—an accumulation of what we learn at home, at school, among our family and friends, and from the entertainment we consume—and influences our decisions for the rest of our lives. Once our worldviews and belief systems are formed, they tend to be difficult to change. When we live our lives in conflict with our beliefs, we experience internal dissonance that causes stress and we’re not always consciously aware of why this is happening.

My worldview and belief system, rather my priorities as they are formed by my worldview and belief system, look something like this:

Extended Family
Household Management


I do not put this forth as something that is “correct,” but (with minor fluctuations based on urgency) this is how I prioritize my life. The dot-dot-dot represents minor things that, while not essentially priorities, tend to be considered before I think of myself and my own needs. Self-care is something I rate, as per my worldview and belief system, as a rather low priority.

I’ve resisted the wise and reasonable counsel that has warned me—for years—that this series of priorities doesn’t work. I’ve talked about it with family and friends. I’ve read the testimony of my fellow parents of children with special needs who have posted about their own struggles with self-care. I’ve read about it in countless books, from nonfiction to fiction. In short, I’m far from the only who has been taught to regard self-care as an act of selfishness and to regard selfishness as an undesirable trait. I’m also far from the only one who has figured out that regarding self-care in that way doesn’t really work.

On the one hand, there’s that old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, then ain’t nobody happy.” Despite the deplorable grammar, the saying rings true. As a caregiver, our moods and emotions impact (either positively or negatively) those we take care of. Of course, the same could be said of either parent, regardless of their role (caregiver/financial provider/both), and could be said of those who are being taken care of, too. In a family, the moods and emotions of each individual family member affects the family unit as a whole. Therefore, if the goal is to provide one’s family with a happy, stable, healthy home environment, then it is important to meet the needs of every member of the family.

However, this brings us back to the difficulty of changing someone’s worldview and belief system, even when that someone is yourself. While it’s easier to change one’s own worldview and belief system than it is to force someone else to change theirs, it can still be an immense struggle to change what you believe, even when you have a reason not to believe it any longer.

For me, it has to do with the holistic nature of the way my mind works. Learning something that throws my ideas out of balance—that proves that something I’ve held as true isn’t true after all—creates a need to have a true replacement that fits with everything else before I can have a stable whole once again. Something as fundamental as the essential nature of my priorities is intertwined with just about everything else I know and think. In order to reassess and reassert my priorities, I need a whole philosophy that incorporates the new information.

I’m still working on that. For the next while, that is what my self-care posts will be about