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.
I 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
- 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.