In the event of an emergency where the plane loses pressure, the air hostess will instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first. The reason for this is that you immediately receive oxygen and remain conscious so that you are able to help others. If you fiddled around trying to put on the mask of someone close to you, you would most likely pass out and be of no use to anyone.
The same can be said in life. If we constantly put the ‘oxygen mask’ onto others first, we leave ourselves depleted. How do we do this, you may ask? By always being there for everyone else and meeting their needs before you even begin to consider yours.
You feel tired but your boss wants you to stay back and do more work or attend one more meeting. You are ill but your child needs to attend sports training or ballet. You feel exhausted but dinner needs to be cooked.
You don’t want to let your friends down so you go out even when you would prefer to stay home and have an early night. You are already multi-tasking but say yes to one more task. You clean the house even though you haven’t the energy.
You push and push yourself until you become ill or completely exhausted. Then you not only feel disgusting but you can no longer be there for anyone else, let alone for yourself.
We have all done one or more of these things, myself included.
I could always fit in one more thing, I hated to say ‘no’ just in case I let anyone down and I always thought that I needed to be involved in everything going on around me. The result was chronic exhaustion where I was forced to stop and re-evaluate my life. I had to slowly learn to stop saying ‘yes’ to everything and learn to ask for help. This was quite foreign to me as I always thought that I could and should cope!
However to regain my health, I learn’t to say “no” and let others take on some of my so-called responsibilities. I started to let go of always being in control and controlling every situation around me.
If I was asked to help, I would say ‘yes’ if I was able to but more often that not, I would say that I would get back to the person asking and leave myself time to think about it. If I really didn’t want to do something, I would say ‘no’. I asked my husband for more help around the house with the cooking and cleaning and although it wasn’t done in the way I would do it, I learn’t to keep quiet and let it go.
I didn’t need to be wonder woman.
It was okay to ask and it was okay to say if I was tired or didn’t want to do something or go somewhere. It was okay to put myself first.
I also put stronger boundaries around my time so that I wasn’t always available for everyone. I slowly learned to put my own needs first and think of how I was feeling. I knew that for me to be available for my family, my friends and my clients, I would need to honour and respect myself more. I needed to put some nurturing back into my life and rediscover my passion and creativity.
So how about you? Where is your ‘oxygen mask’? Are you wearing it or is it on everyone else? What can you do today to change things?
Can you take a day off and stay in bed if you feel ill? Can you ask a friend to pick up your child so that you can have a rest? Can you ask for help around the house so that you don’t have to do everything? Can you have a day in nature instead of cleaning the house? Can you start to say ‘no’?
The more you do for yourself, the more you will begin to appreciate your life. The more nurturing you do for yourself, the more you will love and respect yourself.
The stronger boundaries you have, the more energised you will feel and less of a ‘door-mat’. Yes you will feel guilty, at first, but believe me, this soon fades. Your energy will slowly start to return and you will want to do more for yourself. Your sense of fun and creativity will return and you will be a lot happier and less resentful.
Also by doing more for yourself, there will be more of the happy, rested, fulfilled YOU available to meet the needs of others.
Let me know if you are wearing your ‘oxygen mask’ and how you are achieving this. Please comment below.
Disclaimer: Please note that all information in this article is the opinion of the author and obtained through her research and knowledge. It is not meant to replace medical advice and a medical opinion should always be obtained for any health condition.