At times when everything seems to be going wrong in our lives and there’s no help in sight – what should you do? Take a long bubble bath or perhaps some deep breaths? But do these small actions really magically transform the world to seem like a better place again? As if! Countless self-love tips are simply nonsense! An opinion piece.
When it’s all just too much
There are days when excessive demands, self-doubt and insecurities are written all over my face. I feel as if I’m stumbling through life, and have no real control over anything. Those are the days when I get to hear suggestions such as: “Just take some time out or treat yourself – maybe take a bubble bath or buy yourself something nice.” Any hatred I may have harbored for myself until this point is now projected onto the advice giver. I know it’s not their fault, but their well-intentioned advice is often nothing more than just that – well intentioned.
You go, girl!
#Self-love is en vogue. Instagram is full of images promoting the hashtag. These photos usually portray women relaxing, taking hot bubble baths; women who have apparently escaped the worries of the daily grind. I’d love to meet the smiling single mom living on minimum wage who enjoys a bubble bath after she’s finished the housekeeping. Admittedly, it’s an extreme example, but not an isolated case either. We all face challenges which push us to our personal limits. Society’s reaction includes calendar slogans to make us persevere – and naturally we comply.
Work-life balance my ass!
Colorful Instagram profiles of so-called “power women” managing their lives with grace and style suggest that anything is possible. Work, life, children – don’t worry, we’ll manage it somehow! We pressure each other to excel, but that’s unnecessary and harmful. What we need are financially feasible plans for child-care and usable models for working parents – among other solutions to the problems of our busy, modern lives.
What really helps? Active support.
Most of us are well adapted to soothing our souls, but when life overwhelms us sometimes we need a little extra help. This can take on different forms. Recently I helped a friend who was struggling with the chaos of her household chores. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call or a helping hand to organize a few things an overwhelmed friend may be unable to cope with at the time. Active support is significantly more effective than empty words. A child who falls down needs consoling, but a helpless adult needs hands-on support.
Being realistic also helps
I would never dare suggest that motivational phrases or advice don’t help, but let’s try to keep them realistic. “All will be well” just doesn’t cut it most of the time. Sometimes things get worse before they get better and then everything turns out differently. Presenting the illusion of an ideal world doesn’t seem fair on the person suffering. A sincere assessment of the situation or a realistic search for a solution may be less consoling, but it’s twice as useful.
Self-love versus reality
I believe that the urge to love oneself at all times is dishonest. Sometimes I don’t like myself for a perfectly valid reason. I make mistakes, behave unreasonably, set the wrong priorities or am simply lazy – in short, I behave like a normal human being. We should write off perfectionism and the search for the ideal accomplishment, because they burden us. I’m not entirely sure if there is such a thing as a balance between self-loathing and self-love, but I’d like to practice it. Unconditional self-love is a hypocritical illusion I don’t care to indulge in. So let me suggest this as a counter to the cure-everything bubble bath: a cold shower, or even spending ten minutes in an empty bathtub. Just see what happens.