Imagine you’re on a plane and the captain makes an announcement that the cabin has lost pressure. The oxygen masks pop out of the ceiling and everyone around you is panicking and screaming. You’re sitting next to your two young children and you want to help them first. But, you remember what they said during the preflight instructions: “Put your oxygen mask on first and then help your children.” If you lose consciousness, you won’t be able to help your kids and potentially you could all pass out.
Sometimes it’s difficult to think of yourself first when life throws certain challenges your way. You want to help someone in need. But, though it hurts, you have to take care of yourself first. Only then can you help others. Imagine a therapist who is going through serious emotional issues, but still wants to help her patients with their problems. The therapist won’t be nearly as effective at their work, and their patients will not receive the treatment and full attention they need. Instead of complaining about your neighbor’s yard, take care of yours first.
It’s easy for us to poke fun at the latest celebrity going to rehab after having a drug-induced mental breakdown on live TV, but if we look deeply into ourselves, we will see a bit of them in us. We are all struggling in some way in this life. By helping ourselves first, we can then bring positive change to the world and help others.
True selfishness is when you neglect yourself completely. Eventually, you will need help from others if you don’t take care of yourself for long enough. If you had $100 in your pocket and you gave $1 to each homeless person you came into contact with, eventually you will have no money. You will become a beggar. And, the homeless people aren’t going to do much with $1. In the end, you have only hurt yourself.
We have to live with ourselves every day for the rest of our lives. We are our best friends. If you love your family and friends, learn to love yourself more. You’re going to be together for awhile.