Put your own oxygen mask before helping others

When I first read this note: “put your own oxygen mask before helping others” in the airplane, I thought that is the most selfish gesture in the whole universe. I found it unfair, especially in the named situation where parents should put their oxygen mask first and then to help children.

My experience with giving and receiving help

I started to reflect on some encountered life situations and found that this statement gained deeper meanings for me.

Photo by Annie Spratt on UnsplashI saw most of my life, people in my family helping other people. My grandparents helping my parents, then my parents helping us – me and my sister, and then helping their parents back. Amazing exchange of energy! And the feeling of being useful, accepted, wanted, needed was so intense with every gesture I experienced as receiver, giver or observer. People in my family knew both to give and to receive was my conclusion then.

But growing up, I noticed some details that changed my perspective. I started myself to help people around me. I know that I can, and I also know that this is one of the major meanings of my life.

But I used to help people no matter if they requested the help or not. I was craving for that completion feeling given by the acceptance, and being needed, by knowing that I contribute and that means something for someone.

When the body said NO

Soon helping others was just part of who I defined myself to be. But at one point, I was helping other people neglecting me. I forgot to allow myself quiet time, to nurture my body, heart and soul. I was just busy helping others. And my body said NO! (“When the body sais no” is a title of a book written by Gabor Mate, that actually presents results of some studies that prove the fact that similar past experiences trigger similar diseases).

The blend of success

When I came back to the root cause of the issues, I was amazed how few simple things, like:

  • having appropriate nutrients,
  • drinking water, sleeping, and
  • moving,
  • having quality time with myself, and
  • offering myself some treats I deserved
  • closing the loop between mind, body and soul through meditation, sport and good food

positioned me in a finer, healthy and stronger position to help me first and then others. And it triggered even better results on the other side.

This is when I remembered the airplane saying: “Put your oxygen mask before helping others” in other words, help yourself, so you better help others.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


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