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  • Michelle Gallagher

Is it Self-care or Toxic Individualism?

Self-care is a concept and marketing buzz word used heavily in the wellness industry. In recent years it's being touted as critical to our entire well-being since depression and anxiety are on the rise. Self-care is a practice of taking care of one's physical, emotional, and mental well-being through various methods or habits which can include hygiene, nutrition and seeking/getting mental and medical care when needed. If you're spending time in nature, maintaining a regular sleep routine or expressing gratitude it is said that you are practicing self-care. But it can look and feel different for everyone. Since it's a broad wellness concept there is room for much interpretation.

Self-care to me, includes genuine love of self and making decisions based from that place. There's little discussion however regarding how we can and sometimes do, misinterpret self-care and instead act from a place of selfishness or self-indulgence, employing toxic individualism. Toxic individualism by definition is a refusal to examine one's belief system when presented with evidence that you may be wrong. That's the generic definition you'll find if you Google it. Some believe it may have been born of our need to be capable and self-reliant. However, it's extremely ego based; everyone is an island, and we don't need to care about anyone else. It's all about me not we. And often in that regard, it can mimic self-care. I'm taking care of me, drawing boundaries and extremes for my wellness, etc. Self-care however is healing and includes both love of self and community. It's "the me & we", that moves the collective forward, for the greater good. When we put care into ourselves, others by proxy will heal. But toxic individualism doesn't entertain the slightest personal inconvenience for the sake of the greater we. And this was particularly palpable during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Self-care is healing. It feels like and includes empathy and love even when they are the harder choice.

Lately, I'm finding toxic individualism to mimic self-care. For example, in setting boundaries toxic individualism will ghost, ending all communication without justification or warning. (Color me guilty BTW under the guise of self-care) Big picture though, there is no room for healing on anyone's part without honest communication. Is there? I've also witnessed individuals sharing memes about being victims of narcissists as if they weren't the ones actually perpetrating harm. Oh! The agony and the irony! I've experienced spiritual and wellness leaders preaching on live streams one thing then not delivering in terms of overall care of the individual or community. And, capitalistic patriarchy wears a wellness overcoat, reveals shiny hanging trinkets underneath and tries to convince you that indeed self-care needs expensive accoutrements in order to even achieve the damn thing.

There's much discussion to be had about the crossover of interpretation and conceptualization of self-care and toxic individualism, where both come from and why they are so prevalent across our entire culture, political, spiritual, wellness, economical - now. If each of us has light and dark, an angel & devil within us, then we are capable of both self-care and toxic individualism, no? Can self-care exist without toxic individualism?


BTW, are you also at the point where everything you see, hear & know, is a paradox in this simulation that we are living in? Let's discuss. Leave a comment or shoot me an email. I'm here for it.

Leaving you with some artistic love from my kiddo.

XOXO

M

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