You hear the reminder every time you fly. “Should there be a sudden change in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the compartment above you. Be sure to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.”
There are two reasons this message is delivered. The first is because we simply can’t help ourselves. We see someone struggling and our good-intentioned instincts take over. It hurts us more to see someone else suffer than to suffer ourselves.
The second reason is that we literally can’t help someone else breathe if we can’t breathe ourselves. In this potentially extreme situation on an airplane, if we were to pass out, this would make a bad situation even worse because we would add another layer to the problem.
How do we put the “oxygen masks” on ourselves first in real life? We need to realize that taking care of ourselves is not selfish. In fact, making sure we’re at our best is a selfless act. We are better able to help those around us who are struggling and suffering if we have high levels of energy and patience. We can increase our levels by doing the little things for ourselves that we know are good for us: exercising, reading, decompressing, being alone for a few minutes…
When we sacrifice our needs for the sake of helping others, we are actually doing them a disservice, because we aren’t helping them to the best of our ability. Let’s remember that today when we feel selfish about doing something good for ourselves.
Have a great day!