A social media and other platforms is the

 

    
  A popular trend that’s has been
circulating around social media and other platforms is the infamous notion of self-care.

Unsurprisingly, those advocating for self-care have got it all so terribly
wrong. Care of the self
consists of a lifetimes worth of work on one’s body, mind and soul. The main
reason why so many individuals find themselves hopelessly lost when it comes to
self-care and the practice of freedom is because of this fact. Self-care has
been portrayed by misconceptions of living a stress-free life and taking care
of themselves through eating healthy food and joining a gym, and while these
are vital to an individual’s self-care, they barely touch the surface of what caring
for oneself is. Self-care is so much more that spa days and healthy diets,
it is an ethical imperative.

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       In ‘Ethics’, Foucault presents what soucie-toi de toi-meme, ‘taking care of
yourself’, truly means and how this concern or practice of self is of relation
to freedom, liberation, ethics, and truth. An individual works on them self in
order to put meaning to their relationships, whether it be with themselves or
with others. The practice of self-care isn’t a moral renunciation like in the Christian
sense, rather it is a practice dedicated to purifying the self to correspond with
a particular conduct. According to Foucault, self-care is understood to be
central to philosophy, it establishes creation and the governing of the self. The
notion of epimeleia heautou, care of
the self, consists of an attitude towards the self, others, and the world. The pursuit
of the care of one’s wellbeing comprises of self-knowledge.

       Ethics isn’t synonymous with care of the
self, instead ethics as a sensible practice of freedom revolves around the
fundamental imperative: “take care of yourself”. Caring for one’s self and knowing
one’s self requires one to be free in some sense.

       There is no ‘human nature’ to overcome or
escape from, nothing holding us back or suppressing us. Therefore, concern for
the self is a practice of freedom, not of liberation. Freedom is what must be
exercised. While the practice of freedom requires a certain degree of
liberation, this would introduce the concept of domination/power, that is when
the practice of freedom is under a political or historical condition. Liberation
is not enough for one to decide what the practice of freedom consists of. If people
were to get the idea that freedom and liberation are the same they would fall
back on the idea that there is an existing human nature to be liberated from
like colonized people liberate themselves from their colonizers.

Foucault’s talk of freedom and
liberation is followed by the ethical component of practices of freedom where “freedom
is the ontological condition of ethics but ethics is the considered form that
freedom takes when it is informed by reflection” ( Ethics p. 284) Through reflection, one can develop knowledge
of the self, which them determines their practice of freedom in relation to the
community and family.

       In simpler terms, ethics is the practice
of freedom, and ethics is achieved by the search for or the care of the self. Therefore,
caring for oneself is an act of freeing one’s self. While self-care may seem
like a complex and confusing notion, it really isn’t. For a long time,
self-care was denounced as a form of self-love, selfishness, and self-interest,
and now that it’s become more common and encouraged, people have been
practicing it incorrectly. Taking care of oneself is a fundamental practice to
apply to one’s life. It’s a way of controlling and disciplining oneself, it
makes way for proper conduct to be applied in every situation. It all begins
with truly knowing oneself, understanding who you are, and what your roles are
in life.

       Foucault has
repeatedly mentioned the importance of logoi,
truths, when it comes to the practice of self care. For many, searching deeper
into oneself can be a difficult, and painful task. When there is so much going
on and so much to take in from the outside, searching within oneself seems counterproductive
and unbeneficial. In the technology-based world lived in today, there are more
than enough things distracting individuals from being concerned with and caring
for themselves. For Foucault, it’s counterproductive not to focus one oneself,
and self-awareness is crucial for a healthy and stable life. Care of the self is
a focal point for an individuals’ sovereignty, healthy relationships with
others and a healthy, honest relationship with oneself. “”Know thyself” has
obscured “Take care of yourself” because our morality, a morality of
asceticism, insists that the self is that which one can reject.” (Technologies
of the Self p. 228)
 

       In order to
know oneself, first one must understand what caring for oneself consists of. Not
only is it a practice, but it is also a mindset that is constant throughout
ones life. It is when an individual take charge of their own identity and sense
of self. Unlike what is portrayed to society today, the self-care occurs at a
bodily, mental, and spiritual level. However, when Foucault spoke of spirituality,
he wasn’t referring to a deity or religion, rather ones “spirit” or “soul”
refers to “an ethical, cosmic sense of self” (Oxford
American Dictionary)
Care of the self, for the soul, mind, and body, is much more profound than
eating healthy, and avoiding stress.

Foucault says: “It is a matter of acts and pleasures, not of
desire. It is a matter of the formation of the self through techniques of
living, not of repression through prohibition and law.” (Subjectivity
and Truth, p. 89).

       Care of the
self then takes the form of caring for others. This practice of freedom is a way
of caring for others, and it implies one’s relationship with others, as the
care for oneself enables one to occupy their rightful position in the community
and in personal relationships.

The care for the self also implies, and advises for one to
have a healthy relationship with another, as proper care of oneself requires listening
to ‘the lessons of a master’. An individual needs a guide, a friend, a
confessor, someone who will be truthful to them. These kinds of relationships
with others is present throughout the development of one caring for them self.

The practice of self-care always aims towards the well-being
of others as well, it aims to manage the space of power that exists in
relationships. The great philosopher Socrates would greet people with the
question “are you caring for yourself?”. Foucault says that as philosophers “they’ve
been entrusted with this mission and will not abandon it” (ethics p.287)

This can apply to anyone as caring for others is a responsibility
of every living being. However, care for others should not be out before the
care of oneself. The care of the self is ethically prior due to the fact that
the relationship with oneself is ontologically prior than one’s relationships
with others.

       Foucault has
repeatedly mentioned the importance of logoi,
truths, when it comes to the practice of self care. For many, searching deeper
into oneself can be a difficult, and painful task. When there is so much going
on and so much to take in from the outside, searching within oneself seems counterproductive
and unbeneficial. In the technology-based world lived in today, there are more
than enough things distracting individuals from being concerned with and caring
for themselves. For Foucault, it’s counterproductive not to focus one oneself,
and self-awareness is crucial for a healthy and stable life. Care of the self is
a focal point for an individuals’ sovereignty, healthy relationships with
others and a healthy, honest relationship with oneself.

       ‘Care of the
self’ is not ‘self-care’ as it is commonly known and described these days. Taking
care of oneself is a sort of work or concern through self-reflection, care of
the self is ultimately about ethics, about regulating oneself. Care of the self
needs to be supported by self-knowledge. Since we don’t know who we are, we
need to learn about ourselves through our actions and their results. We then
self-reflect as it’s very important to take the time to observe and analyze the
life style you currently live and how you feel about it, it’s a healthy pause
to take in such a fast-paced life. While building and gaining more knowledge of
ourselves, we do certain things that shape who we are. This is what Foucault
calls ‘technologies of the self”, doing certain exercises, activities and adopting
daily schedules. These technologies result in formations of the self. If we
explore ourselves, this doesn’t mean that we discover a secure and stable being
that is our ‘self’, instead, we create it. Care of the self is as if one is
designing them self like a piece of art. One way to take care of oneself if to create
narrative and repeat affirmations that over time evolve into basic features of one’s
‘self’. Narratives are shared and they directly impact on the ways and how the ‘self’
is continuously being transformed.

       ‘Caring for
oneself’, ‘taking care of oneself’, and ‘self-care’ are what the practice of
freedom is constituted by. It’s living ethically and freely, a life where you
care for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. It establishes power in
different relationship while remaining unauthoritative, keeping things
balanced, fair and equal. It acts as a critical function in the lives of all
individuals. Foucault refers to self-care as a sign of freedom, he emphasizes
the importance of the body-mind as a transcendent and remarkable entity. Self-care
is something only the individual can provide, it is a way of belonging to
oneself, and according to Foucault the possibility of this is reliant on one’s
relationship with knowledge and truth. Taking care of oneself does not equate
to having an egocentric attitude, it’s having full awareness of who you are.   

“”Take care of yourself”, in other words, “make freedom your
foundation, through the mastery of yourself.” “(Ethics p. 301)