In the unlikely event of cabin decompression….
Working nights as new registered nurse on a 43-bed medical-surgical floor, I believed I was obligated to constantly be the servant of the sick. I had a duty to be responsible, dependable and flexible always. At this stage of my life, I was unaware how powerful the negative sides of the servant archetype were, this notion of thinking I always had to do everything for everyone else before tending to my own needs. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, eat lunch or even get a drink of water. I lost focus on prioritizing my personal needs as I served others.
The service task to others can only be done in a healthy manner if the Servant is able to simultaneously be of service to the self. -Caroline Myss
The shadow servant archetype can be a daunting taskmaster, providing no relief from searching for people or causes to serve in order to fill an inner unmet need. Our culture glorifies the illusion of the responsibility to keep a family together, pay other people’s debts or do the emotional work of others, to literally exhaust ourselves in service of others. The hidden truth is, inner peace and balance come from being a kind servant to ourselves first, and then others, but only when we have enough extra energy to offer. Carolyn Myss puts it best, “Without the strength to maintain your own well-being, the Servant archetype becomes consumed by the needs of those around you and loses focus on the value of your own life.” Changing my viewpoint of service from an “obligation to serve” to a “privilege to serve” was the turning point for me.
If we don’t have the energy to give to others because we are out of energy ourselves, it is ok to say no. This simple answer can redirect our priorities quickly. If we feel guilty that we are not helping enough people in our lives, we first must check to see if we have served our needs, then assess whether we have enough energy to give to others. This takes awareness, practice and self-kindness. We must be aware that sometimes what the world expects from us, and what social media expects from us, and what our families and friends expect from us, is unrealistic. Tune in to being loyal to yourself, and if you do that, your motives for serving others can affirm, not damage, your self-worth.
One way to serve yourself first is to inhale or massage a relaxing blend of essential oils. A favorite “servant balance blend” I use includes bergamot Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia, or lavender Lavendula angustifolia with eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus, and ylang ylang Cananga odorata var. genuina. Blending these together in a 2% dilution in vegetable oil creates a harmonizing essence. Inhaling this blend before work, family functions, community gatherings or even before coffee with a friend can help energize and calm. We can give ourselves this gift of essential oils to help us discover the kind servant in all of us. If we seek to know who we are and try to understand our patterns of giving, it will better equip us to balance our time and service without giving what we don’t have.
Eucalyptus essential oil helps disperse negative feelings associated with a sense of constriction or an excess of over responsibility. -Gabriel Mojay
May we all learn ways we can serve our inner needs and help others in a balanced way. Essential oil blends and understanding our archetypes are tools to use to engage in this process of being a healthy reliable servant. “In the unlikely event of cabin decompression, put the mask on yourself first!”
Mojay, Gabriel (1998). Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils: Rochester Vermont; Healing Arts Press.
Comparison of the effect of lavender and bitter orange on anxiety in postmenopausal women: A triple-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial
The Role of Expectations and Pleasantness of Essential Oils and their Acute Effects
Effect of Eucalyptus oil on neurophysiological and headache parameters