Self-care as Service

We are sharing our own thoughts in response to this month’s prompt (Refer back to The Invitation if you have questions about what we’re doing here). Libby Smith shares her thoughts on our prompt:

“What does it mean to you to be in service to others?”

In the current cultural concept of service to others, I find there exists a distinct paradox limiting our understanding.  Service often looks like sacrifice, overwork, and lack of self-care. We hear that to serve others we must first be able to fill our own cup, but rarely do we take this to heart beyond a perfunctory nod towards basic self-care. Although I struggle with the intersection of spirituality and our professional lives, I realize that I can’t consider what service means to me without considering my own spirituality. 

I have a foundational belief that we are not separate from one another. I love the way this concept is summed up in this quote:

If we are indeed not separate entities but, in fact, one living, feeling collective, then how I treat myself is how I will ultimately treat others. Therefore, the work of deeply caring for myself, making space for sacred retreat to restore, regenerate, and align with my true purpose is how I know I can be of service to others. Oftentimes, the effort spent on self and in self-development is seen as selfish or privileged. I see it as essential to living a life of service.

Especially in our work of searching for truths (evaluation, research, etc.), we must be willing to embrace our personal truths, our full, authentic self. Too often I have been afraid to look deep inside, to do the work of knowing myself, to be alone with myself. I must value and care for myself enough to sit down and look at what is present. I cannot truly be in service if I don’t believe I am worthy of that effort.  

This embodied awakening is a lifelong process that hinges on one thing, my desire to be liberated from my inherited belief systems. Our mutual path to liberation, to being in service to one another, lies in our awakening to the idea that we are all connected.

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