self-love, self-care, love yourself, self-healing, Karyn Shanks, Karyn Shanks MD, Big Energy

Self-Care is Subversive

I saw this powerful quote the other day:

Self-love is a subversive act.

In trying to find who said it (I think it was Brene Brown), I came across this:

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light (1988)

Nailed it. Both of them.

This is our trouble with self-care. It’s what I work the hardest on in my self and with my clients. We have to contend with how self-care makes us total freaks among the living.

Self-care is self-love. And self-love is self-care.

Isn’t this why our work at lifestyle change and habit reform can seem so scary and difficult? And requires heroic effort?

It comes down to this: self-love and self-care are subversive.


We’re trained from day one to serve others first. Any other way is selfish. Case closed.

We’re taught that hard work, high stress, fast pace, and exhaustion lead to success and are evidence of our worth. This leaves no space for us (no, not really—what we achieve is not the same as who we are).

We’re taught to disengage from our feelings —our emotional truth and wisdom— in favor of our logical, rational minds. The wisdom or our feelings knows the assaults and neglectful acts perpetrated upon us (it screams at us, doesn’t it?).

So this is why it’s hard.

To reclaim our power of self-love and self-care, these are the stories we have to fix first.

We must care for ourselves first—this more whole and vibrant version of us makes us better for others.

We must show up, slow down, and pay attention. Present moment awareness about what we’re doing, feeling, and what’s all around us— not pushing to exhaustion or numbing to oblivion— leads us to far more meaningful measures of success and worthiness.

We must learn to honor—and feel—our feelings. They tell us exactly what we need. Every time.

We must be brave to be subversive. To crack these well-worn grooves in our cultural and personal narratives.

To put ourselves first.

When we give ourselves permission to care for ourselves—with great reverence—we make ourselves strong and whole. This beautiful strength and wholeness leads us to our true potential. We radiate the light of this all around us. We inspire others to join us in our subversion (and light).

Join me?

Have a beautiful day!


p.s. This topic of self-love and self-care reminds me— to heal, first we have to let go. We have to clear out the obstacles in our path— the toxins, irritants, negative energy, and tenacious stories that get in the way. This is the topic of my e-book, LET GO: The Nine Domains of Healing: Step One.

p.p.s From my Archives:

The Dangerous Myth that Self-Care is Selfish. 2017.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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