The “self-care” industry is now billions of dollars. It covers everything you can imagine that in any way involves (or could involve) taking care of yourself from bubble baths to therapy appointments to eating healthy to well, pretty much everything under the sun can be sold as “self-care”. There are two basic forms of “self-care” in the industry:

  1. Do what you need to feel better NOW. This includes drinking the wine and have the bubble bath.
  2. Do what you need to do to create a better future. This is the therapy and the exercise.

It’s awesome when something you’re doing overlaps bother categories as often times the “now” activities seems to set you back from the “better future” idea. And it is this WIDE range of what “self-care” is that sets up the detractors arguments that “self-care” is “selfish”.

I hate the word “self-care.” My dislike stems from it being too close to selfish and self-love and that it just seems broad and weak. Like the variation we see in “now” versus “future” the actual word used for this movement is ambiguous. The dictionary defines “care” as:

  1. the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.
  2. serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly to avoid damage or risk

When I read the definition it is about protection and avoiding risk. Care doesn’t inspire me. It is the most basic level with no outcome other than survival. Don’t you want to do MORE than survive? I do! I want my self-practice to help me cultivate a life that I choose. I want my self-practice to allow me more than existence. Therefore, I need to upgrade “self-care” to “self-sustainability”. The dictionary defines “sustainability” as:

  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

Doesn’t that sound better? That we aren’t just doing what’s necessary to avoid damage but instead are actually choosing the level we WANT to maintain for our lives? To me “self-sustainability” is a much stronger word choice and guider for how we take care of ourselves. We need to set a bar above avoiding damage and we need to start using a word choice that reflects our ability of select the “level” we wish to maintain in our lives.