I have always disliked the term “high maintenance,” but it took me a really long time to understand why. According to Urban Dictionary, high maintenance is defined as:
“1. Require (ing) a lot of work/attention to maintain. 2. Require (ing) a lot of money or attention to appearance. Or 3. Require (ing) a high emotional investment or en excessive amount of money.”
As human beings, we all require a lot of work or attention to thrive. We require sleep, food, water, and exercise, just to name a few of the basics. We also know that often when we look good, we feel good, so doing things like getting our hair done, getting our nails done, or getting a massage can make us feel better. So why do we shame people for it?
Let’s talk about “high maintenance” self-love, and how it actually can be beneficial.
Before we go into the benefits of “high maintenance” behavior, let’s acknowledge some of the pitfalls. Can we be overly concerned about what others think about us? Absolutely! For me, the balance between healthy and unhealthy high maintenance behavior is asking what the motivator is. Do these things feel like treats or chores? Are you doing it for yourself or to keep up with the Joneses? Do you feel good after you do it? Self care should be about making yourself feel better either immediately, with something like a mani/pedi or in the long-term, with something like exercise. Too often we attribute someone’s self-care routine to outside factors instead of to a love for themselves.
A quote, turned mantra, I regularly use comes from Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self-preservation is crucial for everyone, but people will inevitably try to make you feel guilty for loving yourself. I believe that if we all practiced more self-love, we would have more capacity to love others.
We need to love ourselves and each other as much as possible if we really want the world to be a better place. Loving ourselves and each other does not just mean blind acceptance of whatever we do in life. Care is not just the external things we do to love on ourselves, but also the internal work that is required for our health, welfare and maintenance. It is a balance of both the internal and the external.
Care is not just the external things we do to love on ourselves, but also the internal work that is required for our health, welfare and maintenance. It is a balance of both the internal and the external.
Self-love can also be reading a book that stimulates you, going on a trip that expands your worldview and gives you a break from your routine, or going to a therapist. Self-love can be making that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off, or taking your lunch break outside in the sun. Ultimately, you have to make yourself a priority and put your health first.
There is a lot going on around the world right now, and people will often use that to act as though doing nice things for yourself is some kind of crime. You can fight to change the world and end poverty and suffering, and also get a manicure and pedicure in your favorite shade of purple. You are not required to suffer in order to do good in the world.
One of the best lessons I learned in my master’s program at West Virginia University is that you cannot help anyone else if you do not have your own life together. So, one of the best ways to love the world is to love yourself first.
If we all loved ourselves just a little more, imagine how much better we would treat each other.