It’s true we teach people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves. But those actions also teach others how they should be treating themselves and so we become ripples in a pond moving ever outward. When our own divinity, our own precious light in this world, is the last thing on our list, when we see caring for ourselves as a condiment to living rather than the foundation for health and well-being, we show to the world the powerful message that we don’t matter and we can’t matter. Everything else does, but we don’t and if we don’t then no one else does either.

In some spiritual communities the message is that we should be focused on doing for others and therefore what we need will be taken care of by the grace of God or the Universe or whatever divinity you are interconnected with. What we don’t pay attention to in this are the underlying assumptions: 1) We will automatically take care of our basic needs and have the ability to do so as a functioning member of society, 2) We are selfish beings who will seek our own gratification if not encouraged to do otherwise.  For those who would take care of themselves automatically and need encouragement to create community and do for others, this message is appropriate and even necessary. However, just like taking high blood pressure medicine when you don’t have high blood pressure, a remedy can become not only negative but damaging when misused.

For those who don’t believe they deserve to be cared for or feel they can only earn care, concern, validation and love through good works, this spiritual message does tremendous harm. Instead of giving themselves what they deserve because they exist, instead of cherishing, respecting and cradling their own divinity, then sacrifice it in order to help others all the while waiting for the Universe to take care of them in return. The heart breaking truth is if they care for themselves first they will then have even more to share with others and will be teaching others how to care for themselves by example. Honoring your own divinity is the tide which floats all boats. As we care for ourselves we have more ability to care for others, give them permission to care for themselves so they have something to share with others and so on and so on.