Pop and Positivity

There’s a lot of talk anymore about self-care.

I have mixed feelings on this topic. Part of me thinks it’s sort of a crutch people use to get out of responsibilities and obligations. But I can see the other side of self-care, too, and can embrace the idea that there are times when you need to do things to re-group and prepare yourself to keep facing life.

Self-care is self-treatment, according to Merriam-Webster’s medical dictionary. I think most of us see it more in light of what Dictionary.com said when I looked it up there though: “..[it is] care of the self without medical or other professional consultation.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson share something that I feel applies here–and while it doesn’t entirely embrace the idea of self-care, I think it’s on the right track, He writes:

“Nothing external to you has any power over you.”

Emerson’s idea extracts any medical sort of connection. I feel this is the best place to start for self-care–in your mind.

We’ve all had tough things to get through. But you can use your mind to work on a lot of these things at the onset.

In February 2006, my maternal grandfather (always affectionately known as “Pop-Pop”) passed away. He had been in the hospital, but I still hadn’t thought his death would be the ultimate outcome of the situation. I was a mess. No one had cared for me as I believed he had. A black loneliness encompassed me for months to come. I was worried that I wasn’t going to make it back to the usual light life has to offer.

Now–don’t worry–I haven’t forgotten Mr. Emerson. It so happens that several of the lessons my Pop-Pop taught me applied directly to Emerson’s idea of controlling your life for yourself.

Pop was a man of action. He didn’t stop to warn you that a lesson was coming. He just gave it. The first one from him that applies here is “trust your gut, but check your facts.” If it seems like a bad idea, it likely is. If someone seems negative all of the time, in relation to you or others in general, they probably are a negative person. Their words and actions are proof of what they are truly like as a human being. Don’t fail to trust yourself. Keep positive things around you and focus on the good.

Next, he also taught me to “keep priorities in check.” Sometimes, that priority in life has to be you. But help others all you can. Get involved. And, at the same time, know where to draw the line to keep from being spread too thin.

Third: “Work through it.” This one doesn’t seem as if it’s in your mind, but it ends up it’s true, and it can apply to many areas. Work through problems to solve them, indeed, but with regard to yourself, don’t underestimate the alleviation of just doing something. Whether it’s a job, or a hobby, or charity work, keep your hands and yourself from being idle too long. It’ll add to your confidence, self-worth, and give your mind a chance to work through other things while you’re keeping yourself occupied. Remember the last bit from lesson Number Two from Pop as well–still be mindful of when you need to stop.

Lastly, my grandfather exemplified the idea of “mind over matter.” He was as close to a Stoic as I think I might meet, mostly because he knew not to broadcast every emotion on his face. But do you have to do this? No. I know I couldn’t. But you can think of that technique to try to keep problems or anger from getting the best of you. Think through things fully (if possible) before you just act on a whim. You can control those external factors, or at least “fake it until you make it.”

By keeping your own positive outlook in check, you may find it easier to share with others.

Marcie Herman Riebe

Marcie is a bilingual caseworker by day, a university adjunct by night, and an aspiring writer at times in between. An import to NEPA, she has been active in the arts for many years from theatre to forensics to music. Her interest in the arts continues as founder of Ink, an area writer's group, a founding member of Voce Angeli (NEPA's only all-female chamber choir), and as a columnist for Thirty-Third Wheel. She loves all things Pittsburgh, particularly the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Master of Arts in Linguistics. She lives in Scranton with her handsome husband, Pete, and their horde of cats: Napoleon, King Ajax, Sam, and Dean.

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