As Australia begins its plunge into an unforgiving lockdown, we must brace ourselves for the barrage of self-help gurus ready to ‘heal our souls’.
I’ll begin by prefacing that this is not a discredit to self-care, especially during such a trying time of isolation. On the contrary, consistent sleeping patterns, exercise, food, sunlight, and other healthy routines should be celebrated. Let’s begin.
During another seemingly endless scroll on the social platforms, there appeared to be a staggering amount of sparkly, Pinterest Board self-help quotes reemerging. I mean, it makes sense. Australian’s have once again been left to find purpose in between four walls, with future work and plans left in limbo. Unfortunately, however, there’s a certain brand of self-care on social media right now that’s so rudimentary, so oversimplified, so unhelpful, and yet so viral. Let’s count down some of the most cringe-worthy ‘self-help’ quotes out there.
Mistake #1 – Be happy, or else
The age-old Disney brainwash known as “Happiness is the meaning of life” contaminates plenty of shareable self-care advice online. The truth is, your soul can’t be nourished all the time. We have to make room for feelings other than happiness because feeling sad is an important part of growth. Not to mention, not all necessary things are nourishing.
I’m not sure if this is just my hyper-cynicism, but I’m pretty sure that 90% of motivational/self-help authors are just grifters who are weaponizing optimism
— vinny (@notvinny_) January 21, 2021
Mistake #2 – If you set your mind to anything, you can achieve it
Another unhelpful slice from the misguided self-care epidemic. The idea of working hard to achieve a goal is sound, but life doesn’t guarantee anything. Your context, circumstance, and also plain, dumb luck all play a significant role in whether you reach your dreams. It’s not just your output of work. An emerging wave of burnout culture (Gary Vee, Elon Musk) is getting glamorised, and it’s not necessarily the best path to healthy headspace. If Anonymous calls you out, you’re probably doing something wrong.
Mistake #3 – Romanticised gibberish
This indie subculture of self-care avoids the ‘care’ part altogether. Take the above example. It ties up nonsensical truisms in a trippy, naturist picture in an attempt to be perceived as deep or woke. The moon doesn’t know who you’re in love with, and even if it did, how would that help you? For fucks sake.
Mistake #4 – Overkill
It’s true that no matter what you do in life, someone will find a problem with it. However, proving people wrong out of spite isn’t the purest of motivations. Also, this quote is entirely skipping over any aspect of self-care. It’s suggesting that the only thing in the way of your work ethic is yourself – when we know that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s like the quote has jumped all the steps and assumes you know (and are compelled to do) exactly what you need to do to be better.
Mistake #5 – When self-care becomes self-ish
One of the greatest gifts of life is… giving gifts. Science has shown countless times that helping others is good for you, both physically and mentally, so why do so many self-care “guru’s”get wrapped up in the idea that self-care is only about you. Yes, sometimes, you have to put yourself first, but giving should be seen as a tool of healing, not always as an energy sap and a waste of time.