Don’t Forget To Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First

September 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog

Years ago I heard for the first time the flight instruction of “put on your oxygen mask on first in case of an emergency before helping others” applied to “normal” life.  Since then I have thought of it often. 

At first there is the reaction, ‘How selfish! Saving yourself before others” but than the realization comes that if you don’t save yourself you can not save anybody else.

Mastering this concept and walking the fine line between it and actually being a selfish person is a life time effort.  We are often pushed into situations where exercising our rights and space is put to the test on a regular basis.  Let me give an example of an extreme case, like illness.  Someone we love is sick and needs us.  How much of our time and energy do we give before we have nothing left?  What about “if you love someone you should be willing and able to just give and give”?  The first thing a social worker tells a caretaker is to make sure they take care of themselves because if they don’t they will run out of steam and won’t be able to care for their loved ones.

And what about in our daily lives when we’re not in a state of emergency and its not so clear how much is too much?

If you are like me, you think “I’m really strong and I can take more than most people, so it is easier if I just make it okay for the other people while I take on whatever needs to be dealt with”.  My thinking might sound noble for about half a second because in this thought process what I’m leaving out is; what about respecting myself?  What about the fact that eventually I’m going to burn out?  And what about that for sure sooner or later I’m going to start resenting the people and/or the situation?  What about what I need?

I don’t think there is any fast and bullet proof equation to deal with this conundrum except to listen to oneself.  Quiet down and if something doesn’t feel okay it is because it probably isn’t.  If you are on a quest for a deeper more meaningful life your inner self will always give you the right answer.   And guess what, as you feel more content you will be able to impact others around you in a much more positive way than if you were exhausted from saying “yes”  and “what can I do for you?” all the time.

So join me on respecting the law and putting on our own oxygen mask on before putting it on others.

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