Love Yourself First
Over the last few years, as I've grown spiritually, I've discovered that letting others hurt me, and excusing them, hurt them as well. My intentions were to make them feel better about themselves. I was trying to reflect the Divinity within me by loving unconditionally. When my friends would snap at me, I'd tell myself they didn't mean it, that they were simply unhappy. Returning anger and hatred with love and compassion, I let my friends treat me like dirt because I knew they were wounded. I wanted them to heal, and thought my loving them unconditionally would initiate the healing. It never did. It just encouraged them to remain wounded and lashing out at me.
In co-dependency terms, this is called "enabling." Some time back, when I was told that it wasn't my role to be their whipping boy, I countered with "But, we're supposed to turn the other cheek. Give the shirt off our backs. Love unconditionally. Be nonjudgmental." As time went on, I finally realized that I wasn't helping them by letting them hurt me. I was enabling them to remain the same, and continue treating me with disrespect because they knew they could.
I wasn't creating any urgency for them to heal. And sooner or later, they were going to get a cosmic two-by-four up side the head to force them to begin the healing process. The longer they continued their behavior, the worse their eventual crisis would be. I was actually contributing to their wounded ness by not setting any limits. I needed to value myself enough to stop them devaluing me. As I began to cherish my well being, and counter their humiliations, my life began to improve overall.
I know I'm not alone in the struggle between loving others unconditionally and loving myself. Many of the people I meet, and my clients, struggle with this, too. How can we balance our spirituality with insisting someone treat us with honor? With God as a loving Presence, God/dess accepts all that we do without judgment. As we try to emulate that aspect of God/dess, we forget that God/dess doesn't protect us from the consequences of our actions.
If we step on a rake, we get to experience the rake hitting us in the face. We learn from that to be careful around rakes. God/dess doesn't stop the rake from hitting us, but if we ask for help in healing our bruised face, God/dess is there to heal us. That is why there is cause and effect. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is to help us learn from our mistakes.
The core of this is, God/dess doesn't enable. The Universe is constantly growing and expanding. Unless we do the same, we get prodded along. Cosmic two-by-fours whack us. When you allow people to put you down, humiliate you, belittle you, then you are contributing to making their inevitable consequences harder for them. Universal laws will eventually pull them up short, and the more they've run roughshod over peoples' lives, the harder their lesson is going to be.
By setting boundaries, you are growing in love. Love of self, and loving the other person enough to put a stop to their breaking Universal Laws of compassion. Love them enough to allow them to experience the consequences of their actions. That's the only way any of us learn. In that way, you are emulating high spiritual qualities and reflecting the unconditionally loving Divine Presence within you. Love yourself FIRST and love of all others will come naturally and smoothly.