Self-Care: What is it and why should I care? Part 2 of 2

Self-Care: What is it and why should I care? Part 2 of 2

Self-Care: What is it and why should I care?

By: Makena Lengquist, MA, PLPC, LPC, NCC

To deconstruct self-care, I will address these questions in two parts:
Part One: What is Self-Care?
Part Two: Why is Self-Care Important?

Welcome to Part Two. Why is self-care so important?

As humans, we have a need to feel worthy and important. Having positive self-esteem creates an internal sense of our worth and importance. However, we will face challenges throughout life. Self-care is a way to enhance our self-esteem, therefore protecting us.

Self-Esteem

We all have a degree of self-esteem that acts as a protective shield serving us by creating an anxiety buffer (Pyszczynski, 2004). Having positive self-esteem helps lower our level of anxiety because it protects us from negative or challenging social interactions. Self-esteem is the feeling when you are a valuable contributor to the world and the sense that your life has value and meaning (Pyszczynski, 2004). If you feel that you have inherent value and you bring something meaningful to your relationships or your work, then you will be less likely to feel anxiety. Having positive self-esteem leads to other positive psychological consequences like being more able to cope with emotional stressors, more effective behavioral functioning, and feeling like you are capable (Pyszczynski, 2004). Positive self-esteem improves your mental, emotional, and behavioral capabilities too.

Self-Esteem is about living your values.

Self-esteem results from your own assessment regarding the extent to which you feel you are living up to internalized cultural values (Pyszczynski, 2004). What self-esteem boils down to is your own feelings about how well you are living within your own values.

There are psychological adaptations that combat social threats, many of which are defensive strategies in nature (Sherman, 2006). When we feel personally attacked, we tend to become defensive about our actions and decisions. We want to prove that what we did was right. If we were right then we are fine, but if we were wrong our self-esteem, our self-worth, our sense of self becomes threatened.

Let’s look at another way to maintain self-esteem without having to go on the defensive.

Using self-affirmations and other sources of self-integrity fulfil the need to protect our sense of self in the face of a threat without having to resort to defensive strategies (Sherman, 2006). If we have a way to reassure ourselves that we can still be a good person even when we make mistakes, then we can experience more self-assurance. Having self-affirmations can stop us from going into a defensive mode (Sherman, 2006).

Self-affirmations not only protect people’s cognitive responses to information and events that feel threatening, but also people’s psychological adaptations and behavior (Sherman, 2006). This means that self-affirmations help us respond to threatening situations in a healthier manner. Self-affirmations actually make us think and act in a healthier way overall.

Self-Care and Self-Esteem are internally linked.

Self-care is a way to establish rhythms and routines to take care of yourself in a protective and healthy manner so that life doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Self-care can protect and maintain your self-esteem internally, so you don’t feel as affected when you have a less than desirable interaction with a co-worker, boss, partner, friend, etc. Self-care can protect your self-esteem when you feel like life is piling on more than you can carry. Self-affirmations are a way to remind you of your worth and remind you of your values.

Self-care is about you taking care of yourself in a loving way. If you feel peaceful and valuable internally then external factors will not cause you as much anxiety or threaten your self-esteem as much. You can take care of yourself so that the world doesn’t have as much power over you.

Self-care creates peace within yourself regardless of what the world is doing around you.

References

  1. Pyszczynski, T, Greenberg, J, Solomon, S, Arndt, J, Schimel, J. (2004) Why do people need self-esteem? A theoretical and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 130(3), 435-468. American Psychological Association.
  2. Sherman, D. K., & Cohen, G. L. (2006). The psychology of self-defense: Self-affirmation theory. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.) Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 38, 183-242. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
About the Author:

Makena Lengquist is a client-centered counselor who works with adults and
teens on anxiety and relational issues. She is an avid reader, baker, and dog
lover, with a natural desire to learn.

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