The Self-Care Trap How To Actually Care for Yourself on Your Journey to Improving

Don’t fall for the propaganda

The following is an excerpt of my book — Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement

The Happiness Dichotomy

There are two types of happiness, memory happiness, and experiential happiness.

Problems Self-Care Can’t Solve

Life is hard. Inherently tragic. Regardless of who you are, you’re oppressed, experiencing hardship, and “the man” is holding you down in one way or another. Whether the blame is placed on the glorification of status, beauty standards, societal expectations, or other people in your life, the moral of the story is the same:

The Root Causes That Make You Feel Bad in the First Place

Fake self-care is the classic form of “treating the symptoms without addressing the diagnosis.” Pain meds will ease your pain if you’re terminally ill, but you’ll still die without a cure. You can ease dissatisfaction and discontentment with “self-care,” but it doesn’t address the reasons why you feel you need self-care in the first place.

The Underlying Sense of “Not Being Good Enough”

Yes, you can place partial blame on the arbitrary measures of success we all abide by, the standards society sets, and the media that turns our insecurity into profit. But there’s a more potent source of not feeling good enough, one that does way more damage than those listed above.

The “Outward Success” Problem

I get why people tell you not to focus on outward success. Ambition can harm you, too. You can chase after the wrong goals and waste your time building up your status instead of developing a sense of meaning.

The Money Incentive

First, self-care makes money because there are products to fill that void. What, do you think Dove tells you to take a calm bubble bath with their products because they care about you? It’s just an inverted version of the “exacerbate your insecurity with beauty standards” strategy.

The Conditioning Incentive

If the self-care industry were truly about wellness, meaning that it helped you take care of yourself and become your best self, I’d be all for it. In reality, the gear that keeps the wheel turning is the idea that you’re helpless.

  • It’s not your fault — Few people sell the measured message of “circumstances do get in the way, but they’re not a death sentence.” No, it’s easier to sell you the idea that nothing’s your fault, nor will anything change. Might as well dive into nihilistic bliss and comfort.
  • You’re oppressed and helpless — Sure, you live in the wealthiest period of human history and have access to infinite amounts of free education and resources, but you’re fucked, and life is just too hard. Here, come to our meditation retreat to alleviate your anxiety. That’ll be $1,997.

The Ego Incentive

All marketers, copywriters, and persuaders know that playing to your ego is the best way to sell you, especially if they’re trying to sell you bullshit. The idea that you’re helpless, weak, burned out, unjustly unsuccessful, and deserving of a better life all speak to your ego.

What You’d Do If You Really Cared for Yourself

If you really cared for yourself, you’d do everything in your power to live a better life. You’d work hard, challenge yourself, face fear, and turn pain into triumph. Why? Because true self-care comes from doing things that are hard. You don’t become healthier physically from a lack of action. You put yourself through a positive form of stress like exercise.

Self-Care Should Be a Reward

When you care for yourself as a reward for doing the hard work it takes to improve your life, you enjoy it with a guilt-free sense of accomplishment. You can relax because you genuinely believe you deserve to relax.

Self-Care Cures the Diagnosis

In the book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson, one of the rules is “Treat yourself like you’re someone worth caring for.” The author uses the example of people taking medication. If you have someone you care for who needs medication, like your pet or child, you never miss a dose. But often, people care less for themselves. They’ll miss taking their meds or ruin their health. He cites the statistic that a surprisingly large number of people fail to take anti-rejection medication after getting transplants!

What This Means for You

However you feel about what I’ve written is how you feel about it. So how do you feel about what I’ve said? Do you take issue with it? If so, why? Because you think I’m wrong or because deep down you know I’m right?

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