Self-care can’t really work until we implement the “we-care” mindset and change productivity culture.
If you’ve got the culture at your back, what you’re doing is easySeth Godin
Overtired by 2019 and the years before, many of us treated the first wave of the covid pandemic, as well-deserved slow-down. We got a chance to rethink priorities, took on new skills (how many people started to bake?! 😉 It was easier to stay at home, limit travels and human contacts.
But then, if we collectively learned anything in 2020, it’s that we need other people – and this is a more significant change of perspective than we would expect. For more than 30 years, we heard messages of “self-made”, economic productivity, and individual success as the only right way to achieve fulfilment in life. Last year clearly showed what really matters, and it is a hard lesson I hope our generation will take into heart.
We could finally see which jobs really mattered – thanks to whom our lives are of the quality we are used to. We appreciated frontline workers, teachers, delivery persons. 2020 also showed that journalists are also essential in the information era, and their work in delivering high-quality information is crucial against building anti-disinformation shields.
We learned the importance of mental health, and many of us needed this kind of help for the first time. I genuinely hope it will take away the stigma we put on mental health issues.
Most of all, somewhere by July 2020, we understood how many of us need OUR people. We miss our families, our colleagues, and our children miss their friends. Suddenly a hug became a luxury. A luxury that we never thought we would lose.
So we have learned nobody is an isolated island and we do live in a very connected society.
And this is vital information for approaching change of the “self-care” perception. No self-care will be enough until we implement the “we-care” mindset.
2021 is the perfect moment to start shifting our mindset.
- We are fresh with our experiences, this is the moment of transition, and by now we already know, nothing will be the same – this experience changed our generation. Let’s take it and use this lesson for positive changes. Naomi Klein in “Shock Doctrine” writes how power profits from disaster, let’s flip it for good this time.
- More crises are coming, we will be experiencing aftershocks for a long-time. We already know that the individual – isolated approach to self-care won’t work, as it hasn’t been already working.
- We learned hard that people need people to thrive – let’s not forget it quickly and actually benefit from what this history teaches us.
How does the “we-care” look in practice? It is simple, but we cannot call it easy.
Basically, it’s being non-apologetic and vocal about breaking the success and productivity propaganda while supporting others in doing the same. It’s offering help and lowering expectations. It’s satisfied with “enough”. It is the tough love of sending someone home when they are coming to work sick. It is cheering for delegating tasks and responsibilities.
It is not accepting the “I’m fine” answer when it’s clearly visible that nobody is really “fine”. It is being interested in the truth and offering understanding and support. It is honestly sharing how tired we are and what we really need. Only by doing this, we would see how much the culture right now is not responding to our real human needs.
The culture that did not work well in “normal times” definitely does not work in the lockdown times. Whatever “natural” ways of connecting with other people we had, we mostly lost it. What does it mean for the “we-care”? Unfortunately, it means more intentional effort for us. Purposefully connecting with each other, even if the conditions seem artificial and tiring, understanding that it pays-off to be in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. Being honest in admitting adversities. Standing up for changing the way we operate in our relationships and at work. It’s being more attuned to how we really are and more pro-active in taking it into consideration for ourselves and others.
Why couldn’t we start earlier?
The answer is complicated capitalistic culture. It taught us that we are only valuable humans when we are “perfect”. Perfection is measured by our productivity and bringing financial value. Our relationships don’t matter, because they are only secondary to what tangible value we can bring to the world. The secret of the efficiency of the “We-care” culture is that when we are productive in supporting the full “human” in us, we will not need any additional energy to justify it for us or others. Let’s then be less apologetic and more supportive, and let’s see what 2021 can bring us.