Humans are social animals. As such, we are wired by evolution to want to help others in our tribe.
But rather than having separate circuits in the brain for how to treat others vs. how to treat oneself, nature proved to be elegant and efficient: how we treat ourselves is how we end up treating others, and vice versa.
The work of Dr. Kristin Neff and Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education shows that if we can be gentle and compassionate with ourselves when we are struggling, we are more likely to exhibit these traits with others. This is a foundational concept in Buddhism—to help alleviate suffering in the world. And one of the tools they use is the loving-kindness meditation.
It is common to look upon self-care as selfish. But if done in a mindful, empathetic way—where you consider the impact your actions have on others—it helps you show up as a better person in all of your relationships.
Jim Rohn said it quite eloquently:
The greatest gift you can give to somebody is your own personal development. I used to say, “If you will take care of me, I will take care of you.” Now I say, “I will take care of me for you, if you will take care of you for me.”