In the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the panels above you. Pull the mask towards you. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, and secure with the elastic band that can be adjusted to ensure a snug fit. The plastic bag may not fully inflate, however, oxygen is flowing. Secure your own mask first before helping others ~ Every airline safety video ever
Kindness has always been a part of my mantra and something that I have attempted to embody in any and all interactions. In full disclosure, I have not always been successful. I have also attempted to apply that same principle to myself. And again, I have not always been successful with that one either. In my interpretation, part of employing kindness to myself has meant establishing boundaries and taking time for self care. However, there is a certain level of guilt that would wiggle its way in when I lacked the energy, the capacity, and the resources to drop my pieces to pick up someone else’s. I was taught to not be selfish. Sacrifice self in exchange for others. By choosing to establish boundaries, or choosing to attend to my own needs, felt unacceptable and somehow wrong. I worried that I was sending a message to others that my well being was not only my first priority, but my only priority.
But is self-care really selfish?
The short answer is no.
- (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.
noun: self-care; noun: selfcare
- the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.
- “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
Selfish is a lack of consideration of others. It is taking from others to increase my own personal profit or pleasure. Whereas, self care is the act of taking care of myself in an attempt to renew and recharge the resources and energy required to then be able to give to others. The ability to be of service to anyone else, in any capacity, requires energy. It is impossible to support even those closest to me when I’m feeling drained or depleted in some way. Which leads me to the next consideration, in establishing boundaries, when does being there for others become an act of enabling rather than helping?
As a teenage, many of my friends and people in my life were lifeguards. Although I never worked as a lifeguard, I often assisted my friends’ training sessions and inservices by being a “victim” and pretending to flail and drown. In these practice sessions, I learned how to approach a drowning, flailing person. I learned to approach them with one foot extended, acting as a “distancer” and ensuring that I didn’t get too close. A floatation device is then pushed toward the victim for them to grab onto, cling too, pull themselves up on, and save themselves.
I learned that a drowning person will grab onto and climb on top of whatever, or whomever, gets close enough. They will climb on top of the rescuer, forcing them both underwater and drowning them both. Kindness, and survival, in this situation, is not self-sacrificing, it’s not martyrdom, it’s giving the drowning person the tools to save themselves.
I have come to terms with the idea that self care is a requirement, not a luxury. I have learned to say yes without resentment and no without guilt, or at least I’m working on it. Although I want to be able to support and nurture all those who require that, it’s just not possible at all times. There will be times when all I can do is provide the tools for someone to save themselves. However, with routine self care there will be other times when I can also help pull them to shore.