Messages of self love, self care, preserving one’s peace and protecting one’s space rippled across social media in 2018 in tsunami-like waves. From skin care to meditation, travel, adventures into nature, and everything in between, this rediscovery of self love and taking care of oneself was the ultimate kumbaya. As I began to navigate the whole concept of preserving one’s space and peace, I realised that there is a downside to a lot of what is being preached.
In many of the online based communities of which I am a part, we share advice from cooking to finances, travel, relationships and more. What I have noticed is that a lot of the advice being given on the troubles of the people we are connected to, often involve members of those communities telling persons that they need to leave someone behind—end the marriage, remove a parent/sibling from from their lives, get rid of that friendship, get a new job—and do whatever one has to do to avoid or not deal with that person or situation anymore.
I cannot deny that I too am guilty of pushing the “leave them, protect your peace” mantra, because at the time, I believed the persons in those situations needed to get rid of all the negative people in their lives. However, as I traversed my own self love, self care, preserve my peace, protect my space journey, I came to the realisation that in many cases, the person with issue, the one at fault and the one exuding toxic traits, was me.
One of my blogger mentors, Lisa Jean Francois, shared a screenshot of a tweet on her Instagram (IG) story which read: “Don’t let this tainted ‘self love’ trend have you 50 and alone because you walked away from everything that ‘didn’t serve you’ instead of learning conflict resolution.” She went on to say that she is all for self care and self love, but some people use it as an excuse to not face reality. She added that if one knows that one is the issue in a situation, it is good to acknowledge that and work on doing and being better.
Those IG stories left me reeling. Did I ever stop to think that I could be the problem in a situation? Have I removed people from my life or hidden from them because I thought they were being toxic to me, when in truth, I was the toxic one? And in the situations where I realised that I am the one with the issue, have I done anything to work on bettering myself?
Some of those questions were easy to answer while others were not. In reflecting, I came to conclusion that it is easier for us to see the faults of others, to blame others, to let go of them and to completely remove them from our lives, instead of doing to the dirty work and looking at our own shortcomings.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many situations where the other persons truly no longer deserve to be part of your life because of things they have said and done. However, there are times when we are the guilty party, we are the toxic ones but we won’t admit it.
I have learned that as human beings, we do not like to be wrong, we do not like to admit fault and we despise highlighting our shortcomings. Often, confronting the real crux of a problem means bringing the not so good things about us to light and no one wants to face their own mess. No one wants to release the proverbial skeletons from the closet. Instead, we guard that closet for dear life while we deflect the blame on to others.
Not wanting to sort out our own issues, we end up removing people from our lives, not because they did something deserving of being exiled, but because we don’t want to acknowledge and deal with our own mess. It reminds me of a time when the friendship I had with someone became strained because I felt they were being negative towards me. However, as I looked back, I understood that I was the one at fault, because I refused to acknowledge that the situation I was in (at the time) was not good for me. I recognised that she was merely looking out for me because she cared about me and, with time, I was able repair our friendship and eventually deal with my own mess.
My wish for this self love, self care mantra of protecting your space, and preserving your peace movement, is that those who preach it also include advice on learning how to face your demons. I wish they teach that self love isn’t pretty, it isn’t the beauty masks and the pedicures that we see on Instagram. It is dealing with the good and not so good things about ourselves—unpacking them, finding the root cause of them—and working towards a solution where we can learn, grow, and do better for ourselves.
Tshenelle Bethel-Peters aka Nelly B, is a natural hair, plus size, beauty, and lifestyle blogger; an avid supporter of buying local