THOUGHT WORK IS A FEMINIST ACT
We hear a lot about self-care these days. But what is real self-care?
The feminist poet Audre Lorde wrote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
I’m pretty sure she wasn’t talking about spa days. Bubble baths and champagne are great, but neither radically transform your life or make you more capable of accomplishing your goals and creating the life you want. Managing your mental and emotional life is what produces real self-preservation—and real self-actualization. Whether you want to change the personal, the political, or both, it all starts in managing your mind.
This is why I always teach that investing in your mental and emotional health is a vital feminist issue. (And to be clear, I’m not just talking about financial investment. Obviously, as a coach, I think paying for coaching is a good way to do this, but you can do a lot of this work on your own. It just requires investing your time and energy.)
When you think about it, there is enormous social pressure on women to not take their thoughts and feelings seriously. Women are constantly being taught they’re too emotional, overreactive, and that they’re basically big balls of feelings. The implication is that feelings are unimportant compared to rational logic, which is assumed to belong to men. Women are essentially gas-lit by society constantly, which treats us differently while telling us that it isn’t doing so—and then when we object, we’re told we’re imagining things and need to calm down or “snap out of it.”
Psychological studies show that when women express the same sentiment as men, women are judged to be more emotional, less rational, and less believable. It’s no wonder we tend to second-guess ourselves and “white knuckle” our way through our emotions. We’re taught that taking our thoughts and feelings seriously is frivolous.
And then to soothe our anxious, fearful, guilty, weary souls, we are sold material solutions. We are encouraged to prioritize the wrong things, focusing on material purchases or physical indulgences as the way to “treat ourselves” or make ourselves “feel better.” None of it works long-term. And all the while, we undervalue our mental health and settle for chronic and harmful levels of anxiety, guilt, and shame. We’ll spend thousands of dollars a year on the physical upkeep that helps us conform to society’s beauty norms, but we won’t invest that same amount in improving our internal lives. And it’s not because we’re shallow or vain. It’s because society has taught us that what matters is how we look to others, not how we feel to ourselves.
Your feelings creating your daily experience of the world would be enough reason to care about them, but they do so much more. They’re responsible for everything in your life. Managing your emotional life makes you a better partner, a better parent, a better friend, a better worker, and it makes you better for yourself. Knowing how to create the emotions you want to feel, on purpose, so you can act how you want, is truly the secret to life.
Nothing could be less frivolous. Nothing could be less silly. Nothing could be less of a waste of time. It’s the best investment you can make, because it solves every problem in your life.
And not for nothing, but when you eliminate all the self-doubt, fear, dread, guilt, worry, and anxiety—not to mention the amount of time you spend thinking about the size of your thighs—you have so much more energy, not only to accomplish your own goals, but to be of service to others.
This is why taking control of your mental and emotional life is truly an act of feminist liberation.
If I have a 2018 wish for you, it’s this: Take yourself seriously. Take your life seriously. Take your emotional world seriously. Spend the time and energy to learn how to manage your emotional life, because it determines everything else that happens to you. Your daily experience of life matters. What you were meant to create in the world matters. Learning to manage your emotional life is the secret to creating your own liberation.
If you want to liberate yourself from self-doubt, insecurity, anxiety, and fear, you should check out the Clutch. You can learn more here.