Your Life Will Improve If You Stop Caring About These 3 Things

As somebody who is very interested in the world of self-help and self-care, both from a research and a personal perspective, I think it needs to be said: there’s a lot of really terrible self-care advice out there. Like, really terrible, insidious advice that sounds like a step in the right direction when it’s actually the opposite. For this article, I rounded up three ideas or concepts that I believe have the worst impact on our overall mental health and well-being. In my opinion, recognizing where those ideas come from, why they’re not doing you any good, and then saying a big old “F you” to them is one of the best ways to practice true and effective self-care. So without further ado, here are three things to stop caring about - things that were never your (or my, or anyone’s) job to do.

 

Photo via Artem Beliaikin on pexels.com

 

Feeling positive or happy all the time

There is a concept in the self-care world called Toxic Positivity, and all it takes to see it in action is going into your local TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Homegoods. Suddenly you’re surrounded with water bottles, coffee mugs and throw pillows telling you to “Always Keep Smiling”, begging you to “Stay Positive”, warning you: “Good Vibes Only”.

A weirdly threatening mug I found at TJ Maxx

 

Of course, the idea that we have to strive to feel positive and happy all the time doesn’t come from nowhere. Our profit-oriented society doesn’t allow space for negative feelings because they can put a damper on productivity - and who are we if not 24/7-profit-generating machines, am I right ladies? Seriously though, the expectation to be positive all the time can be extremely harmful. It pushes us to obsess over any negative feelings, increasing anxiety, which in turn heightens unhappiness - a vicious cycle. “Happiness is a good thing, but setting it up as something to be achieved tends to fail,” explains Brock Bastian, social psychologist and co-author of a study on toxic positivity. He found that instead of pushing positivity, focusing on emotional acceptance resulted in more long-term happiness. So instead of “Good vibes only”, the mantra should be: All of the vibes, all of the time.

 

Being “chill” or “easygoing”

Here’s a fact: the expectation to be “cool”, “chill” or “easygoing” is a standard imposed upon women in order to keep us from succeeding. Whether it’s about our personalities, our looks or our achievements, doing something well is not enough, it also has to look “effortless”. I’m sorry, but that is some misogynistic bullsh*t. Men simply don’t have to live up to that standard, so women have to work twice as hard by working towards the same goals all the while having to maintain an aura of effortlessness. So if you’ve reached a goal, are knowledgeable about a certain topic or have a bangin’ body, you better celebrate every last bit of effort that went into that achievement! If somebody thinks you’re “too much”, that’s their problem.

 

Being constantly healing, advancing or improving

In my opinion, one of the most toxic aspects of self-care culture is the idea that you are constantly on a “journey” towards a better, calmer or somehow improved existence. As someone who both has a perfectionist streak and tends to ruminate a lot (I know, #blessed), I find that idea anything but empowering - actually, the opposite. Constantly focusing on parts of my personality I think I could improve or past experiences I haven’t totally gotten over yet doesn’t make me feel like I’m on a path towards a better life, it just makes me feel restless. Healing is something that happens organically, all by itself, on its own time. You can’t push it, and you don’t need to be on a journey all your life - sometimes accepting where you’re at is the best thing you can do for yourself.