Your Inner Prostitute: Selling Out to Survive vs. Self-Respect

I’m not calling you whores, per se.

Tee hee.

We all think ‘sex-for-money’ when we hear the word prostitution. Forget that. That’s not my focus here. I’m talking about archetypes, an ancient and universal concept of what it means to prostitute one’s self.

Wha…?  A Couple Definitions

To Prostitute:  To sell parts of one’s Self in order to gain physical security.

Archetype:  An inherited idea or mode of thought stemming from the experience of the human race, present in the unconscious minds of the individuals of the human race.

Ms. Myss

I’m reading a body-mind-spirit book by Caroline Myss right now, Sacred Contracts, and everything here in this post is inspired by my reading, thinking out loud about the concept she describes in the book and relating it to the mindset of post-dysfunctional families. (I would say that I believe that Ms. Myss would approve of my discussion of her ideas, but as I’m an ex-approval-seeker who knows that ideas cannot be copyrighted, I’ll stop at saying that I’m in awe of and deeply appreciative of her amazing contributions; I’ve been freed on account of many of her ideas, and I’m thankful that she continues to write, speak, and sing her particular, unique song for the universe.)

If you’re interested, here’s the book: Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential

Am I Whoring Myself?

As a society we have contempt for whores.  It’s quite palpable in our society.  Right now the U.S. Secret Service is being investigated and criticized in the public media for shacking up with prostitutes on the eve of a workday (prostitution is legal in Colombia). With this case, one issue at the core is respect.  From one Colombian prostitute’s perspective, not being paid for sex by the Secret Service man she had sex with was disrespectful.   From the man’s perspective, my guess is that the opposite was true — paying someone for sex is treating them like, well, a whore.

So, just saying:   Prostitution is, and has always been, a dicey topic.  I’m sure it’s because we all have, inside us, the potential to whore.

What Will You Trade of Your Self to Ensure Physical Security?

Now, buckle in and grab those eye drops, this is going to knock you down and shift your focus!

When I read the chapter in Myss’ book about archetypes, and got to the one discussing the Prostitute, I was like, “Oh, it’ll be interesting to read about those poor troubled souls….”  Then I recognized myself!  Tee hee.  Humility is always sitting around the corner, ever patient, ain’t it?

I delayed not a few work, life, and love decisions in my life because my self-respect was minimal in relation to my fear of losing my physical security.

What about you…?

Have you ever stayed in a relationship solely to maintain your physical security (that nice house, country club, rent, mortgage, car payment, etc?)

Have you ever failed to report a manager or coworker because you didn’t want to rock the boat and fall out (of a boat you believed was your only boat, a safe boat, a necessary boat)?

Have you ever said, “I love you, too,” when you weren’t so sure because the person looking at you could “fix” you, save you?

So, just saying:   We’re but humble humans wanting to feel safe, and we tend to prostitute ourselves when we sense that our security is vulnerable — and when our self-respect is hiding in the back seat.

Myss writes:

“The Prostitute thrives most bountifully in subtle ways and in ordinary, everyday circumstances. It comes into play most clearly when our survival is threatened. Its core issue is how much you are willing to sell of yourself–your morals, your integrity, your intellect, your word, your body, or your soul–for the sake of physical security.”

It’s quite a brainfull to consider, huh?  A painful brainfull.

This Stuff is Made for TV

In the television drama version of all this, the bully is saying to the person prostituting themselves, “You’ll be nothing without me!”  Or, “You’ll be out on your ass and no one in this town will ever hire you again if I have anything to do with it!”

Or, in a manipulative and abusive relationship they’ll say, “You’re going to be alone the rest of your life!”  Or, “I’m going to take everything from you if you leave–I’ll sue you into homelessness!”


Wake Up Call for My Inner Whore

My mother dropped me off at her parents’ house “for the weekend” when I was three-years-old.  She didn’t come back.  That was my first introduction to the Prostitute archetype–of many, many, many–as a child.  Keeping a caregiver around and a roof over my head was paramount.  Another time, at six-years-old, I was asked by my father to OK my stepmother’s adoption of me so that my mother who lived in the same town wouldn’t interfere with our new family so much.  I learned from an early age to sell-out my self-respect in exchange for physical safety.  I didn’t want to be abandoned again.  Once had been enough.

Well into adulthood I seemed to operate according to the rule that selling out was what enabled my security.  A vacation from all that emotional whoring felt long overdue.

Faith is An Antidote

There is so, so much more to say about this concept, my mind is brimming with examples.  But let me close on the idea of self-respect and faith.  If we’re whoring ourselves on some level, we can investigate that in a few ways, but the key mode is questioning your faith. Faith in yourself, faith in the universe, or faith in god.

What, in the situation, is testing your faith?  What belief is missing?  What about your faith is weak?

Have you lost faith in your worth?

Have you lost faith in your options?

Have you lost faith in your own abilities?

Have you lost faith in your ingenuity?

Your love-ability?

Myss writes:

“Confronting the Prostitute within you transforms this archetype into your guardian. It will watch over your relationship to faith. Think of the Prostitute as the ally who puts you on alert every time you contemplate shifting your faith from the Divine to the physical. Anytime you are in a crisis of faith, try to become mindful of your thoughts and fears. Name exactly what you are afraid of, especially those fears that try to talk you into compromising yourself in any way. The Prostitute appears when you begin to believe that you could order your life if you just had the money to control the world around you–and to buy just a bit of everyone in it.”

As always, we must actually do the work.



  1. Carl says:

    Loyalty – wow – I thought that was one of my esteemed character traits – wrong, i sold it, it wasn’t true loyalty, i knew it all along from the beginning that I was subverting the idea. The idea that used me was: “if you show me a little kindness I will be your slave. Or more precisely: “I will be loyal and I hope you will be kind to me. Those are seeds in my apple core. I want to exchange those seeds for a core of self-respect. Thanks for meeting with this topic head on, Amy

    • Amy Eden says:

      Thanks, Carl.
      Writing that one, and reading the book, was very evocative.
      Sometimes it’s not the job or the relationship itself (but very well can be), rather it’s the dynamic, if I think, “Why am I in this stupid job where I’m miserable and hate my coworkers this much…?” I’m enslaved; but if my thought is slightly different, and I think, “This job isn’t perfect and not the best fit for my skills, but my plan involves this job and doing it for another two years in order to resolve my debts–then I’ll get a different, more suitable job,” that’s choosing it, not a victim mentality. It can change though – if the job or relationship environment changes for the worst, we then re-evaluate.
      When we re-evaluate, if we don’t respect our Self, then we’re going to struggle to perceive the options for exit that are at our disposal. That’s exactly where we get stuck – and start to invoke the whore archetype.
      (I think much of the dynamic is historical. How many of us grew up listening to our parents talk about how personally challenging and exciting their jobs were, as we all sat around the dinner table tense, anxious and waiting for a plate to go flying across the room? Or, rather…how often did we hear them complain about other people at work, who were stupid, or power-tripping…I heard that a lot. I heard solutions…rarely.)

      • Carl says:

        Throughout my growing up, I always had real hope that someday there would be a good listener who could help me work through the survival stuff and I would re-discover my innocence and feeling clean and wholesome. Like Myss is saying: “Confronting the Prostitute within you transforms this archetype into your guardian. It will watch over your relationship to faith.”
        I’ve experienced this in recent times. It was my little mustard seed of resilience. Remembering back many years, early in elementary school taking on a lot of responsibility for my Mom, the alcoholic and walking a very delicate line to not disturb the very fragile painting of our family that my Dad was trying to keep from dripping off the canvas that was our home. He didn’t mean to seem so scary. I didn’t understand at that young age but I was learning to live two lives. The one that others outside the family knew and the other selling myself out for the safety of my younger sibling and myself. This is a really good discussion from your reading. It’s very helpful to me to dip into the well for this topic.
        Thanks Amy

        • Amy Eden says:

          Reading that made my heart ache, Carl. You deserved more.

          Being pushed into the adult role by parents behaving like children is an unfortunate reality for us, those “raised” (can’t help put that in quotes, since it’s a verb) by addicts. I would argue that a child cannot be a Prostitute (in the archetypal sense), because they are not on their own, they are dependent–in the most real sense–on others for their physical security. (However, as you and I both know, we shouldn’t grow up being reminded that our physical safety is tenuous or at risk, or used as a manipulation (“I put this roof over your head…obey me!” b.s.))
          Even though I don’t believe we can invoke the Prostitute as children, I do see that we can grow up much, much more likely to invoke our inner Prostitute because of being so painfully aware of the instability of our physical safety as kids. Our faith starts out shaky, at best.

          I like what Myss wrote about faith, too. If I truly believe that options exist, I will perceive my situation as a choice, not a floatation device keeping me above water. I was raised being “told” not just non-verbally (abandonment) but also verbally that physical safety was not real, and was certainly not a given, not deserved. I don’t know if he still believes it, but my father once shouted to me across the front seat of his car, “Safe!? You don’t feel safe?! Safety doesn’t exist! There is no safety in this world. It’s not a right. Nobody “deserves” safety.” Never did forget that discussion. And can’t disagree with it more.

          Thanks for this dialogue!

  2. Isa Ritchie says:

    I just stumbled across your site when trying to remember what Myss said about the prostitute archetype. I have found this one coming up for me a lot recently – for me the prostitute is the guardian of integrity. I have noticed that I look for validation from men (because it was largely lacking in my childhood) and end up getting into relationships for this reason, which isn’t ideal! It’s a kind of exchange – being in an intimate relationship in exchange for validation. This realisation makes me uncomfortable so I’m having a break from relationships for a while to figure this out… if does sound strange to people when I tell them I’m having a year without relationships so that I can sort out my prostitute archetype.

    Thanks for the post. Your site looks interesting (coming from someone who also had a chaotic childhood)

    • Amy Eden says:

      Thanks Isa. You made me laugh – time off from relationships to sort out prostitute issues, that is hilarious! I can only imagine the confused look in their eyes.

      Trading a sense of validation for your personal integrity, yeah. That fits.
      The guardian of integrity – I like that view. Looking at Sisson’s Synonyms, there are some other apt terms, too: Integrity: scrupulousness, sincerity, soundness, strength, trustworthiness, virtue, fidelity, honor, merit, purity, rectitude, etc.

      I’d love to hear what insights you gain in your year. Feel free to keep in touch!

    • Amy Eden says:

      I just saw an interview with Carolyn Myss and Oprah in “O” magazine. They did the interview because Myss has a new book coming out – all about archetypes, “Archetypes: Who Are You?” (Is Myss finally appealing to the mainstream?)
      Here’s a link – book published January 8th 2013

  3. IS says:

    Wow… now I understand why I used to charge so little for my time in my business and why it was/is scary recently raising my rates. It literally freaked me out and I think everyday about going back down to a lower level because things are slower now at the higher rates. I’m getting though the answer for me is to innovate/market new ways to provide value and better service as I grow at these rates… not go back to lower rates.

    I also understand one of my x-girlfriends better now and why she was so extraordinarily seductive. It turned me on in ways that were beyond my wildest pornographic fantasies, and every time I went into that world it made me depressed, anxious, and drained… feeling just like I was back living with my mother all over again.

    After I “went in” I was no longer myself and felt like I sold out because she wasn’t a slut only for me rooted in a loving committed relationship. She was going from guy to guy and I didn’t know that up front. By that time I found myself addicted (because the sex was so good) and confused in a fog that was not my world. It was the world of my mother and the alcoholic family I grew up in.

  4. bja says:

    Totally related to this. As a young 20-something I found myself in my parents house..again, the place I swore I would never be again to protect myself emotionally because I needed physical security. I found myself falling into the same patterns as when I was a child. I finally confronted myself, was honest with them and left the same day.

    Your blog was exactly what I needed when I started realizing how many of my relationship issues were tied to my childhood. Thank you so much for talking about these things!!

    • Amy Eden says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you found what you needed when you needed it. Sounds like you had a reliable and helpful gut sense about living back home! And heading another way.

  5. AnnetteB says:

    I just found your blog this morning– after most of a life with some pretty spectacular ups and downs and a lot of pain. I have been trying for a long time now to assert that I am “normal”, but I have no idea what normal is. I don’t drink– like my mother did. My mother was a mistress to wealthy married men. I have never done that. And yet I have created so much personal non-stop crisis in my life at intervals that I have burned bridges and made life hard for my children. Not realizing the life I was creating looked like my childhood home with some tweaks. I have sold myself for some validation. Put the estimation of my self-worth in other people’s power. I have given away chunks of myself for some affection, to feel loved. I have to think about this faith thing. I am not sure I have faith that things will work out.

    • Amy Eden says:

      The faith might come, might not. But if you’re here, you’ve got some tiny degree of faith in operation. The rest might come on its own. It all starts with having compassion for yourself and your story, loving yourself no matter what sort of burned-down cities lay behind you.
      Big hug :-)
      You’re not alone, not in the least.

      • AnnetteB says:

        Thank you for hugs. I am not sure where to begin with all of this. I am not a monster but my kids deserve much better. I want to not keep self-destructing. I ordered some Cheri Huber and Caroline Myss books from the library. I have been watching my diet and exercising. How do I keep this forward and work on this? How does one work on this? I used to write. Does it help to write stuff out?

        • Amy Eden says:

          Oh, yes, yes, yes. Writing is extremely therapeutic! And reading books is really helpful, too. I’m happy to do a free 30 minute consultation call with you if you think life and spirit coaching might be what will help you.

          Writing saved my life. There was an article earlier this year that circulated about the positive impact of writing on mental health… which is to say there is research to back up the effectiveness and impact of writing. It’s transformative stuff!

          It sounds like you might need to do some thinking and investigation around having compassion for your mistakes – – perhaps that’s the place to start?

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