Prioritize Self-Care In Order to Care Well for Others

Samaritan--Archetype Cards by Carolyn MyssToday is a mix of cards: one from a non-divinatory deck, Carolyn Myss’ Archetype Cards; one from Toni Carmine Salerno’s Universal Wisdom deck, and one from Doreen Virtue’s Magical Messages from the Fairies. Yes, that’s right, a fairy deck. Don’t worry; it will be okay!

From the Archetype Cards, I pulled the Samaritan archetype (which is based on the story of the Good Samaritan). Especially at this time of year, we are focused on helping others, and that’s both wonderful and appropriate. However, the Turquoise Sea card from the Universal Wisdom deck cautions us that we cannot help others unless we also help ourselves. Think, “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” As much as we want to help, we can’t actually BE of much help to others unless we pull ourselves together. And that includes things like getting enough rest, eating right, seeking medical attention when necessary, etc. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; it’s responsible — and it should be part of your energy budget for each day. By budgeting some of your energy for self-care, you avoid burnout and, believe it or not, ultimately end up increasing, not decreasing, the number of things you have the ability to do for others. If you do not budget time and energy for self-care, you will end up pushing  yourself too hard. Turquoise Sea -- Universal Wisdom deck by Toni Carmine SalernoI think the key message here is to get enough rest — like the woman depicted on this card, who seems to have used up the last slender thread of energy that she had in her. When this happens, we not only should but in most cases cannot do otherwise but rest before helping others — because our bodies will give out on us and we won’t have a choice.

Why a turquoise sea, by the way? Turquoise works well as a healing and protective stone, and also is said to promote communication and attunement on a spiritual level. According to Judy Hall’s The Crystal Bible, turquoise is an especially good stone to turn to for psychological healing, as it helps to protect against depression, exhaustion, and panic attacks, brings emotions into balance (thus stabilizing mood swings), and dissolves tendencies toward self-sabotage. (Wow. I grew up around turquoise and never knew that it could do all these things!) Again, no matter how much we want to help others, no matter what things on our “to do” list we feel we should be doing right now, if we are exhausted and emotionally overwhelmed or beset by depression and mood swings, we have to address those issues first.

Spring--from Magical Messages from the Fairies by Doreen VirtueFinally, here is the card I drew from “Magical Messages from the Fairies” today: Spring. (But Bonnie, it’s December right now!) Actually, though it is December, it feels like spring here in Milwaukee…but more importantly, on some level, it IS spring right now. It feels like a time of new beginnings. And this relates back to what I’m trying to say. You can’t build a fire without kindling. (Doesn’t a fire look a little like a red or orange flower blossom, like the one on this card?) You need to lay the fire out, with a mix of larger, slower-burning pieces of wood and smaller, dryer, easily lit materials. That is the beginning of the fire. Or you could trace the beginning of the fire even further back, to the time you take to gather the materials, or back still further, to the true beginning when the tree that the wood came from grew out of a seed and matured. When you think about making a new beginning, think about what it takes to lay a fire and get it started. Self-care falls into the “gathering kindling and laying the fire” stage of our lives. We can’t leap into a project expecting it to manifest immediately, as if any fire would just spring into existence without being patiently cultivated first.

Another way of saying ALL of the above is to make a dedication of all our activities. This is a Buddhist practice, but anyone can do it. You can dedicate any activity (even eating and sleeping) on behalf of all sentient beings. Doing so is one way to raise our awareness that our self-care activities ARE for the benefit of others, not just ourselves. And, most self-care seems to become more effective if it has been dedicated first. Start with good self-care, then, once your fire is laid, go out and be the Samaritan that you want to be on behalf of others.



  1. Such a wonderful reading, Bonnie. I am working on writing a self-care draft piece myself, and as I’ve become more involved in energy work via teaching yoga and even writing itself (that surely is an energetic exchange as well) , I’ve realized just how important the self care a.k.a self-oxygen mask piece is in order to both nurture and give to ourselves, which then allows us to then better nurture and give to others. I also LOVE the new knowledge I now have around the healing properties of turquoise; I’ve always been attracted to the stone, and have been drawn to wearing it a lot over the past year, but I had no idea about its good energetic and balancing karmic properties. Thanks so much for sharing that wisdom.


    1. You are welcome! I didn’t know much about turquoise myself (though I grew up around people wearing it a lot — my grandfather’s hobby was jewelry making, and he lived in the Southwest, so turquoise was a common theme for him). But when I saw the Turquoise Sea card I had to look it up. Re self-care: it’s gotten more important to me as I’ve gotten older–somehow when I was younger I thought I could get away with ignoring certain needs, and maybe I could for awhile, but now I’m discovering that plan doesn’t work forever…eventually you have to take care of yourself…Anyway, glad you liked the post.


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