Butts, Guts, Sucks, and Tucks: Self-Care Is Different for Each of Us

Woman relaxing by waterIt can be easy to become judgmental when considering another person’s idea of self-care. As most of us can interpret, this term is broadly used to describe the ways we care for ourselves on a daily basis. As I am both a personal trainer and a psychotherapist, it tends to mean different things in both of the professions I am immersed in.

On the therapist side, it is common for us to use this term as a catch-all phrase encompassing the ways we (therapists) keep ourselves healthy and balanced in order to promote good boundaries with our clients and do strong clinical work. Therapists I know will answer this question by sharing things they do that tend to sound like: hike, read, talk to others, get supervision, cook, meditate, or do yoga.

On the personal training side, it is used in general to define how we (trainers) are keeping ourselves fit and strong in order to prove to our clients that we are what we promote in fitness and health. Trainers I know say things like: run marathons, CrossFit competitions, triathlons, eat low-carb, juice, cleanse, or do Pilates.

For other individuals and professions, self-care can mean a variety of things. The term can refer to the ways you’re caring for your body, mind, work/life balance, relationships, food planning, weight loss, sleep cycle, and spirituality, just to name a few. The term expresses how well you promote wellness and are connected to your “true self”.

You can imagine it like a very large umbrella with unlimited terminology dangling underneath. The real beauty of such an all-encompassing term is that the individualization of what it means to YOU is really all that matters. There is no wrong or right answer to the question, “What do you do for self-care?”

Not coincidentally, I have met individuals who define self-care by the ways that they take care of their self-esteem and positive body image through plastic surgery and other body modifications. These individuals can feel that they care for themselves in ways that allow for them stay young and timeless forever in the manner that truly matters to their sense of identity. Friends of mine and people who come to see me have gotten butt lifts/implants, tummy tucks, liposuction, eyelid lifts, and vein removals. In addition, I know people who swear by a myriad of various injectable potions that instantly erase the years off of their faces. If this matters to you, then I say, “Go for it!”

Why not leave room for everyone to decide for himself or herself what defines self-care to them? We can be a fairly judgmental society in many ways that are harming or shaming. I see a lot of negative press around people seeking medical professionals to make cosmetic changes. It is your body and your decision.

If there is something going on with you that causes you to feel not good enough or not your best, it can be empowering to make changes that can lead to a new, improved, vibrant self. Maybe your changes involve healthier eating, exercising, having a date night with your spouse, prioritizing sleep, or even visiting a cosmetic surgeon to discuss your butt, gut, or potential sucks and tucks. The choice should be uniquely yours and yours alone.

If you are reading this article you are already taking the first step in finding ways to improve your wellness. Taking the time to reflect on what you may need to change in order to feel better in different avenues of your life, and beginning to search for resources and ideas, is a proactive approach to moving yourself forward. This first step will already have you feeling just a little bit better as you begin to enter the “action phase” and prioritize YOU in your life.

I look forward to writing topic features on the various ways in which you can promote your own unique self-care.

© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stacey Neil, MA, LMFT, CPT, therapist in Los Gatos, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jacqueline

    Jacqueline

    April 7th, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    What I would want everyone to understand is that self love and improvement does not have to be a one size fits all approach. What works for me may not work for you and that should be fine, why do we all have to be so judgemental about those sorts of things? I know that there are all types and there will always be those who take things to the extreme and quite honestly I used to worry about all of that a whole lot but now I have to say to each his own… I will worry about myself and you worry about yours, and that way hopefully we can all work out our own little issues. I don’t need anyone judging the way that I deal with certain things because just because that might not be the answer for you, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t turn out well for me.

  • Trevor

    Trevor

    April 7th, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    I have to say that I have seen people do it both ways, through hard work at the gym and through the help of a surgeon, and I don’t think that I could tell that one group was happier than the other. But you know who they were happier than? The ones who did something are ALWAYS happier than the ones who only sit around and talk about doing something to change. The ones who actuallu are motivated to do a little something for themselves are always the ones who are the most satisfied in the end.

  • Stacy

    Stacy

    April 8th, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    I work for a cosmetic surgeon and I have seen women who are afraid to talk about the procedures that they want to have done because eevn though they know this will make them feel better about themselves, there is also this part of them that is afraid of being judged and thought of as being shallow and vain for doing it. I try to tell all of them look, this is something that you need to do for you, not anyone else, I try to stress that this may or may not be a life changer and would be better accompanied by some other changes like eating healthy and exercising, but if this is what is going to give them that jump start to get them going then I say by all means, go fo it.

  • elsa

    elsa

    April 8th, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    You must have a very intersting perspective on this given that not only do you get to see this from the side where clients are wanting to get healthy and happy physically but from the standpoint where they are also wanting to get in shape emotionally.
    That must be interesting to watch and see how the two wants and needs coincide and which tends to win out over the other, or if either desire proves to be stronger in certain types of people.

  • Brantley

    Brantley

    April 8th, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    Best.Title. Ever!!
    So Clever!!

  • Gene

    Gene

    April 9th, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    What do you say, if anything to those women who take things to the extreme? You know that they are so unhappy with themselves because they are doing eevrything in the world that they can to change who they are and how they look that it becomes downright scary. I wouldn’t even know how to approach this topic with someone, as I feel like they are already so fragile and hurt emotionally that saying something to them would damage them even more. I suppose that people with issues like this you definitely have to handle with care, because when they are already this unhappy with who they are then one little thing could really send them right over the edge.

  • Cricket Y

    Cricket Y

    April 9th, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    I am just glad that self care is becoming so important and that it is not seen anymore as being narcississtic but necessary

  • juliette

    juliette

    April 10th, 2014 at 3:47 AM

    For me it has become about finding the right balance. I want to eat right and work hard, but what’s wrong with a little cosmetic touch up here and there if I have the means to do that? I don’t think that there is anything wrong with it, no matter what anyone says. I think that all of the differing points of view could somehow be integrated.

  • Virginia P

    Virginia P

    April 11th, 2014 at 3:43 AM

    I am alright with the whole plastic surgery and injectable thing up to a certain point, but then I feel like there are people who are doing things like this to try to cover up their true selevs and overcompensate for what megative feelings they already have about who they are.
    Sorry, but I don’t think that this is healthy in any way, shape or form and I guess I would have to feel pretty bad to think about this decisison.
    That didn’t sound quite right, because who knows what I might do one day, but let’s just say that right now I am going to try to avoid this route because it doesn’t feel right for me. But if it does for you then I suppose that this is your choice and I should applaud our ability to even have that freeedom to choose.

  • jess adams

    jess adams

    April 12th, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    wouldn’t be good at your job at all because I think that I would always be on the verge of telling someone enough already, to stop with all the fake stuff and that it was time to get real

  • Kandy

    Kandy

    March 24th, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    Excellent blog you have got here.. It’s
    hard to find high quality writing like yours these days.
    I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

  • sonja

    sonja

    April 10th, 2015 at 9:22 AM

    The problem is people tend to be extreme. Self care is the same. There is nothing wrong with anything that increases self awareness, self esteem, or wellness/health (physical, spiritual/emotional) But if your chosen methods I’d self care begin to interfere with daily interactions, become an unhealthy focus, or simply begin to cause stress/worry where there was none before, you have created yet another issue. To each his own. But it is mindfulness of what we are attempting to achieve and acknowledging reality about ourselves. Balance.

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