OPINION: Self-care and ethics

Tin Bartolome

Posted at Apr 07 2017 07:58 AM

One of the things I vaguely sensed was right but felt guilty about was taking a break. I always felt that I needed to do the things my loved ones were unable to do for one reason or another. I recently found out that the term for this is “over functioning”.

But I have also been asking myself how one tempers the desire to care for oneself—to sort of define the parameters of self-care. I remember having told my children once that I cannot be a full-time stay-at-home mom and that I needed to have a life outside, otherwise, I wouldn’t (couldn’t?) be a good mom. I said I needed to work, somehow. I guess they understood and were okay with it. I made sure they came first before anything else. But then again, working isn’t self-care and the stressors outside the home may be even greater.

The happy compromise of course was to work freelance, at home, if possible. But that meant no real breaks as the list of what needed to be done was endless! I once considered working overseas but when my only daughter, then only in third grade, found out, she stood at the main door, fists on her waist and said, “No one leaves this house to work abroad! Pasyal, pwede, trabaho, hindi!” I realized later that I would have had problems if I had insisted. On the third day of an 11-day shoot abroad, I began to cry each time Teletubbies was on because I missed my children!

Now that all my children are adults and I have also learned about “self-care”, I feel better able to make it an important part—a regular part of my life. Self-care allows us time to be ourselves, to appreciate what we have and everything else we can partake of. It affirms our existence and the belief that we have the right to be where we are.

God loved us first, and that is all we need. The quest to be loved may lead us to sin.

But, like anything else, excessive self-care to the detriment of others may be unethical at the very least. How does this happen? When I put my self-care before responsibilities or when I do not care whether I am bothering others by prioritizing my self-care. Some “persons in authority” have that sense of entitlement, so that it seems like self-care is only for them—even if they cause delay in the self-care of others.

I would not want to make generalizations, but it seems that an inconsiderate person would be that one who does not listen and thinks only of himself. The religious are often regarded as benevolent people who are considerate and humble—most of them are. But there are always exceptions. Decades ago, I met an old priest whose face was expressionless and when asked, answers without looking at the person who made the query. I recently met another like him but this one seems moodier and came with a good dose of a sense of entitlement.

I do not want to pass judgement on them but I have heard countless stories similar to mine. There are those on the opposite end, those who are more humble and accommodating. Many are in between: they are able to keep the distance but are nevertheless nurturing, jolly and I must admit, sometimes really funny!

All of us—the religious and ordinary mortals like myself all need some rest and self-care, but whether breaks from all the pressure could make us less cold or a bit more considerate, whether such moments could make us more humble and compassionate—more ethical—may still depend on who or what we are as individuals.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.