If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you’ve heard the flight attendant tell you that in the event of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, and then help others.
They say this to mothers and fathers traveling with children especially because the natural tendency is to put your child’s mask on first even if it means you’re grasping for air.
I’m a father to many people, and I’ve noticed something about myself: I sometimes have a tendency to neglect my own needs in the name of serving others. It feels like the right thing to do at the time, but it leaves me spiritually, emotionally, and physically drained.
My experience and observation is that we all tend to do this at some level.
The most difficult thing to learn in this work of inspiring others for a living is that taking care of yourself – setting boundaries, ‘training others’ to work on your terms, and turning away those who will not – is actually one of the highest and best forms of love and congruent service you can offer in the marketplace.
This is why so many “lightworkers” live in darkness, trapped in despair.
No one around them pays attention until a prominent political leader gets caught on camera or a pastor checks himself into a hotel and commits suicide.
What’s your oxygen?
There are a few things I love and enjoy: spiritual growth, hours roaming the aisles at Whole Foods, listening to audiobooks and motivational messages, an afternoon at Natural Body Spa, exploring new ideas, information, and gadgets, etc.
Small things, but they are big to me.
I’ve noticed that when I don’t take time for these things, time to rest, refresh, reflect, and reenergize, I’m much less effective and present with other people. I have less energy, less patience, and ultimately less to give.
There are many reasons we don’t take care of ourselves: obligations, opportunities, the needs and opinions of others…
This is not about being selfish or turning inward in an unhealthy way, it’s about figuring out the rhythm and flow of your life so you can live and become your best you.
There is so much more I could say about this, but I hope you’re getting the message at whatever level you need it in your own life.
Begin by establishing a morning routine that awakens, energizes, and focuses you. Then schedule certain things in your life that support you. It isn’t noble nor is it serving others well to neglect taking care of yourself.
As unnatural and counterintuitive as it seems, put your oxygen mask on first so that you can help others with theirs.
Then, breathe deeply…
With love and respect,
P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts about this in a tweet, Facebook post, etc. Send me the link so I can read what you have to say.