Self Care Series: The Problem with Putting It All on You

There's something powerful in knowing that you can help yourself by taking good care of your own well-being. You have some agency in all of this - you don't have to succumb to the whims of fate. You can take action. Those actions can help. You're not helpless, or hopeless.

At the right stage of a healing path, making a really specific action plan for self-care is exactly the thing to do.

At the wrong time, or from the wrong person, or if said too much - the suggestion that you'd feel better if you'd just take care of yourself can be profoundly invalidating.

The thing is, the message of self-care is that you are the one responsible for your well-being. What's beneath that - if we're not careful - can be the message that you are the one to blame for your suffering.

There are so very many factors that influence an individual's well-being. A great way to understand these factors is learning more about Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory of human development. Essentially, individual development doesn't occur in a vacuum - it occurs when people interact with their communities - from the microsystem level (e.g., a family) to the macrosystem level (e.g., cultural influences).

An individual has a great deal of power in responding to difficulties in their development. Self-care can give you agency at times you might otherwise feel powerless. But as recently pointed out in a viral tweet quoting community organizer Nikita Valerio, if we want people to thrive, our communities also need to care for those individuals and their development.

It's not all on you.