>what is it that prevents us from self caring?

>i have not been exercising for the last five months – before that i have been a regular gym person with a personal trainer and i felt great.  every morning going to the gym was a chore but i dragged myself there and went through the rigorous routine.  at the end, i felt energetic and good.

i have also not been singing – for a long time – i have the harmonium at home – no one tells me not to. in fact friends complain and nag but i don’t.  my vocal chords have not given up on me, they still sound great when i sing, but i have, on them.

i learnt yoga, meditation and chanting and when i practice them, i feel great but i have never been able to do them continuously for even five days.

i am supposed to take some vitamins and other medication to keep up the general well being (especially at this stage of my life) and i don’t take them regularly.  the only medication i take regularly and without fail is my thyroid medication because it is otherwise i will become “fat”.

i have often not understood the nature of this resistance. this resistance of not looking after oneself, of not  being regular about keeping one’s own physical well being as a priority.

and i have seen this in so many women, younger, older, earlier generation, my generation, next generation, cutting across economic and other social classes …. very similar.  they have manifested themselves in many ways — through no regular or no medical check ups, addictions, ignoring early warning signs of impending illness, not providing enough nutrition to oneself,  demanding or seeking very little emotional nurturance .. i can go on.

it is perhaps easy to dump all of the above only to the social coding for women, to patriarchal systems, values and frames.  And to a large extent it is so, but i think that this is a fairly simplistic way of looking at this issue!

some of my own inferences about this are:

1.  perhaps partly based on some of the social psychological conditioning, some women have not learnt to value her own life as much as she values the lives and well being of her loved ones.  it is easy to look at her as the ever sacrificing mother but may be it is more than just sacrifice.  Sacrificing one’s life is a matter of giving up something which is of value, only then the sacrifice makes sense.   But here i am arguing that the question of sacrifice does not even arise as here the life is not valued much, here it is others’ lives which are of value.

2. what is valued are perhaps what some of us seek:  whether we are needed or not, whether we are desired  or not, whether we are of service or not, whether we are loved or not, whether we are important to others or not, whether, whether, whether??

3. i also believe that simultaneously in the modern urban educated class we have learnt to value our products, our competence, our intellect, our ability to create, our ability to provide for, to support, to demands and protests on behalf of the system, our ability to build; a lot of our power we have learnt to value.

4. When it comes to caring for the self, there is perhaps  a sense of shame attached –  although for me and for a lot of other women I know this concept of shame does not manifest itself when it comes to our sensual and sexual parts … taking care and embellishing ourselves come relatively easier than actually looking at ourselves as a human being who is important enough to be taken care of.  In so many of our cases, this taken care of is expected from others or it is relegated to one of the least priorities in our lives.  I wonder whether there is a fear (perhaps not even known to us) that if we do take care of ourselves fully, then we may not need anyone anymore?  is this a way of making ourselves a little more vulnerable than we actually are?  Is this our way of keeping ourselves “a little less than” to ourselves, lest we forget what we have been taught over centuries and find our own internal voice?

5. The last inference that I am making here is about being born as a woman and it is based on an ongoing discussion with a friend and some data from the lab that we have been running together for the last six years on gender.  In most of our work and also from my personal experience i see that there is a tremendous anger and resentment of having born as a woman, of being the disadvantaged one.    No doubt that given the social system and the history, this is a reality for many of us that stems from our personal life experience, but in today’s context for many women, this is not a personal reality.  For many women today, certainly in the urban education part of our society, the experienced reality is more about being treated as an equal, of having opportunities, etc, and hence it may become even more difficult to even experience this disquiet as one’s own.   During my work in corporate forums, with students from management schools, with professionals from NGO sectors,  from many conversation with women, I detect a sense of helplessness, a sense of choicelessness, and a sense of resentment and rage.  What is important and scary for me is that more often than not, this feeling is either not recognised or  denied or projected onto others and perhaps pushed deep down in our unconscious,  only to surface to propel us towards acquiring more power and prowess or towards blackmailing oneself of not being good enough in one’s own esteem or holding conventional targets like the social system, patriarchy as solely responsible for our victimhood.  

I wonder how many of the above are linked to our sense of self neglect or whether there is a link at all? whether somewhere there is a fear that if we do make ourselves as priority number one then we may actually not need anyone anymore? perhaps there is a fear of actually owning up how self sufficient and complete we are in more ways than one? is this a way of making ourselves a little more vulnerable than we actually are? Is this our way of keeping ourselves “a little less than” to ourselves, lest we forget what we have been taught over centuries and find our own internal voice? Is there a fear of losing the world that we know of as of today and being ‘home’less? i don’t have the answers …only have some guesses … what about others who read this? what do you think?

I live in Bangalore, India, and by profession, I am CEO of a consulting organization, an Organization Consultant and an Executive Coach. I write because I like writing my thoughts and reflections for me to review my life and the life as I see around myself. However, sometimes it makes sense to convey my thoughts to others and connect with others. Maybe it strikes a chord; may be it does not. My life has been my most outstanding teacher, which is why I like sharing my experiences, memories, encounters and other narratives that I build as I go along. I am interested in people, society, culture, ways of life, individual and collective narratives/stories as they lead us to discover each other as nothing else does. I also write about coaching, people's lives, culture, stories, mothering my daughter, believing in a feminine way of life, and most of all, believe that all politics starts from the self and personal convictions

3 thoughts on “>what is it that prevents us from self caring?

  1. >Ive been thinking about well being and wanting to be w e l l, quite a lot would be safer to say than saying i have consistently wanted it.While I agree and see a lot of the things you spoke about as processes that actually may contribute or create this inert space…if I take my seeking God/spirituality…I seem to have given up on this path, even just experiencing peace, contentment, well being from just centering within through meditation and watching my breath. I feel in my case there's a part of me that feels creating an environment that generates well being for my children and husband and friends is crucial but for me …there will be time for that i keep saying …very soon I shall get into a routine…i have charts and exel files and what not mapping my journey back to myself in terms of well being.I also with great discomfort wonder if I have given up on myself…as in myself for myself.That chills me.Thanks for this ….it made think..and will so..


  2. >the whether, whether point hit a chord… so di yoga and meditation… when i used to do it, i really enjoyed it, enjoyed how i felt through the day with it… and yet, nada…!as i read through the post and thought about it, i'm left with the uncomfortable question – do i value my life? what about my life do i value? in what ways do i value it?all this because of the equally uncomfortable truth that when it comes to taking care of myself, i'm just a completely lazy, indisciplined butt."sab theek toh chal raha hai; the avoidance of finding out the latter may be true""i'm loved, valued, accepted, etc. for who i am; running away from the sheer fear of hearing that some day my body shape may also determine my being accepted; the realisation as i write this, that it is true for me right now!"some self-destructive streak that remains… smoking stopped, but eating for the love of eating prevails, no exercise whatsoever continues…the equally uncomfortable feeling that is making me squirm right now… despite this, my inaction will be with me tomorrow as well…


  3. >@Vinti : there is a saying in Bengali called "gyaan paapi" i guess we all belong to that categroy – but why end in a pessimistic tone?@Dhanu: I know, I rarely do, but when i do meditation and chanting I have a feel of being cleansed. I guess you are talking about the same thing.love and hugs to both of you.


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