Self-Care: The Great Debate

Self-Care: The Great Debate

“The Voice of Self-Care Wisdom” vs. “The Voice of the Work”

Wisdom: “Stop denying. Listen to the wisdom of your body. Begin to freely admit the
stresses and pressures that reveal themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Work: “Work until the physical pain forces you into unconsciousness.”

Wisdom: “Avoid isolation. Don't do everything alone! Develop or renew relationships
with friends and loved ones. Closeness not only brings new insights, but also can be an
antidote for agitation and depression.”
Work: “Shut your office door and lock it from the inside so no one will distract
you. They are just trying to keep you from catching up on your paperwork.”

Wisdom: “Change your circumstances. If your job, your relationship, a situation, or a
person is dragging you under, try to change your circumstance, or if necessary, leave.”
Work: “If you feel something is dragging you down, suppress those thoughts.
Try drinking more coffee.”

Wisdom: “Pinpoint those areas that are creating difficulties for you and work towards
alleviating that pressure.”
Work: “Increase intensity. Work harder. The harder you work the more people
you can help! If you find yourself working at a relaxed pace and enjoying your
work, you probably need closer supervision.”

Wisdom: “Stop over-nurturing. If you routinely take on other people's problems and
responsibilities, learn to gracefully disengage. Try to get some nurturing for yourself.”
Work: “Attempt to be everything to all people. You exist to solve other people’s
problems. Perhaps you haven't thoroughly read your job description.”

Wisdom: “Learn to say No. This will help diminish intensity by speaking up for yourself.
This means refusing additional requests or demands on your time or emotions.”
Work: “Never say no to anything. It shows weakness, and makes you look like a
slacker. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do by working late today.”

Wisdom: “Begin to back off and detach. Learn to delegate, not only at work, but also at
home and with friends. In this case, detachment means rescuing yourself for yourself.”
Work: “Delegating is a bad idea. If you want it done right, do it yourself.”

Wisdom: “Reassess your values. Try to sort out the meaningful values from the
temporary and fleeting, the essential from the nonessential. You'll conserve energy and
time, and begin to feel more centered.”
Work: “Reflecting on such things is not only selfish but a waste of time. We will
send you a memo explaining how to prioritize your values. Until then, if someone
questions your priorities, tell them you are not able to comment and refer them to
Personnel. It will be taken care of.”

Wisdom: “Learn to pace yourself. Try to take life in moderation. You only have so much
energy available. Decide on what is wanted and needed in your life, then begin to
balance work with love, pleasure, and relaxation.”
Work: “A balanced life is a myth perpetuated by so-called self-care experts trying
to make a buck! They’re just trying to undermine your commitment to your work.
Don’t be fooled by this.”

Wisdom: “Take care of your body. Don't skip meals, abuse yourself with rigid diets,
disregard your need for sleep, or break your medical appointments. Take care of
yourself nutritionally.”
Work: “Yeah, whatever. Your body serves your mind; your mind serves the
agency. Push the mind and the body will follow. Drink Mountain Dew.”

Wisdom: “Diminish worry and anxiety. Try to keep worrying to a minimum, it changes
nothing. You'll have a better grip on your situation if you spend less time worrying and
more time taking care of your real needs.”
Work: “If you're not worrying about work, you must not be very committed to it.
We may have to find someone else who is.”

Wisdom: “Keep your sense of humor. Begin to bring joy and happy moments into your
life. Very few people suffer burnout when they're having fun.”
Work: “So, you think your work is funny? We'll discuss this with you at a special
meeting on Friday, at 6:00 P.M. Be there!”

(Adapted from Massachusetts Institute of Technology web site at

Smiling does a body good

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