Frankly, I’m confused by the concept of self-care. As a man, I have experienced self-care to be a frightening venture. Partners become threatened by it. Family members have scoffed. The large and looming message a man hears in today’s world is: If you take care of yourself you will be punished, lose relationships, and die a selfless, narcissistic, asshole.
Guys, self-care is the most absent, yet essentially important thing you can do to improve your life. It is here that we fail most in our commitment, and ignoring self-care is an unfortunate by-product of our culture.
Let us declare, we will:
- Love ourselves without condition. No matter what shade of thought or emotion enters our internal tide. We will lust, we will plot revenge, and we will face sledgehammering guilt, yet we will meet it with love as a Spartan meets his opponent in battle.
- Make decisions for our health. Rather than chew our nails or our lips, we will drop whatever we feel is our duty, and make good, nourishing food, take naps, book appointments with our naturopath, buy insoles, get STI’s checked, and exercise.
- Delete the abominable “shoulds” from our thoughts and words. There is nothing a man “should” do, but take care of his dreams and his health. Out of this fulfillment, the world will provide all else to bestow his excess affection and vitality upon.
- Rush to our own aid. If we are feeling lonely and unloved, we will seek first the power of solitude. In this silence, with our breath, we will quest for that which cannot be explained—the mystery of our existence—until the Sun rises with clear light from our confusion. If this does not work we will seek out the company of other men, our second greatest resource. There we will talk about how we struggle to with our long-term relationships and less frequent sex, our guilt for our wandering eye, the intense need and illusion around what freedom really means, our closet addictions, and our secret contempt for the careers we are in but do not love.
- We will take delight in our own self care. I will look at beautiful things. I will take pleasure because it is my birthright, not something to feel guilty about. I will eat my food and orgasm as if the whole world is watching, because we are not ashamed of pleasure.
- After working on a project, hobby, or idea, we will start our own business, write a book, and create a way for our pleasure to become vocation. By caring for our dreams, we will become conscious entrepreneurs, fathers, friends, and citizens.
- We will declare what we want and what we don’t like, for it is out of these two rivers, we are led back to Eden. We will first practice with validating friends and comrades, then, little by little, branch out. We will honor those who try to castrate us for having likes and dislikes, for they temper our will in the direction of our paradise. We will step boldly past them, and celebrate our victories.
- We will find new ways to have fun that do not involve drinking or chasing sexual partners. We will calm our anxiety in the pleasure obtained from a good walk, rest, meditation, reading, good friendship, and the remedial passage of time. We will take holidays and book massages.
- We will promise ourselves the delights of new experiences, either mentally, physically, relationally, or spiritually. In this way we connect to our mythological foundation as seekers of new worlds. We honor the fact that experiences are strong determinants of health, and that new adventure is the best immunization against depression and stagnation.
That’s it. Taking care of yourself may seem like a tall order, but once you start, you’ll begin to realize huge benefits, among them other people taking better care of you, too.