‘Before you help other passengers, put your own oxygen mask on first’
How many times have you heard that instruction during the in-flight safety demonstration when you’ve been flying off on a well-deserved holiday?
Does it make sense to you? Isn’t putting yourself first selfish?
Are you someone who says ‘I should be helping others first’?
Well, if you are, here’s something to think about.
SINK OR SWIM
You jump into the sea trying to save a struggling swimmer, you’re not the best swimmer, you’re not very fit and your energy and strength starts to wane after a few minutes. The voice in your head says, I should help, it’s selfish not to.
So, what happens then? There are now 2 struggling swimmers in the sea and other people, fitter and more able to help will have to risk their lives to save you too.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
It makes sense that if you dive in to help someone with anything, big or small, to make sure you are fit enough to cope with whatever they are going through.
After all, helping others is a nice thing to do isn’t it, but helping others can take a lot out of you and if it takes more energy out of you than you already have, you will end up needing help too.
HAVE YOU GOT THE RESILIENCE TO HELP OTHERS?
It’s all about self-awareness and self-care and knowing the difference between ‘should‘ and ‘could’.
Are you thinking I ‘should’ help, or I ‘could’ help?
If you are thinking I ‘should’ help,you may be feeling under pressure or feel it’s your duty to help. Don’t forget you have choices.
Be aware of how you’re feeling, how much energy, time and resilience do you have.
By identifying how you feel, knowing what your energy levels are and by understanding your own resilience you can then make an informed choice whether its right for you to help on that occasion. Whether you have what it takes to help someone else or whether it’s time to ask for help yourself.
I get it, it can often be really hard not to respond when our family, friends and colleagues need help. You may feel you don’t have much of a choice at all but by making some small adjustments there are things you can do to help yourself.
- If you’re a carer looking after a loved one, make sure at least some of your needs are met first so you are able to meet their needs as best you can. Ring fence some time, even if it’s just a few moments that are yours to do with what you want.
- If you are a parent struggling to make sure that your kids are happy and healthy, by making sure your batteries are as fully charged as possible will make it easier for you to cope with day to day living. Discover what gives you energy, sleep, a decent meal, quiet time, time with friends, telephone conversation with a mate, time on social media, walking the dog – it doesn’t matter what you do but find something that gives to you rather than takes away.
- If you have a friend in need, try just being there and listening without offering solutions. Don’t assume they want your help or you know what they need, wait until asked and then just listen. It’s sometimes enough just to know you’re being heard.
Are you helping someone go through a tough time? Remember, you are going to be more helpful to them if you are feeling resilient, strong and capable.
Practising self-care can help you build up your own strength and resilience, so you don’t end up feeling depleted and unable to help yourself or others.
WHAT IS SELF CARE?
There’s a lot being said about self-care at the moment but it’s not necessarily a warm bath with scented candles or a holiday in the Bahamas. Self-care is the normal things in life that gives to us rather than taking away.
- Sleep – by having a regular sleep pattern you will feel more awake and rested.
- Exercise – by increasing your exercise your energy will increase.
- Healthy diet – by introducing a healthy diet your body will be stronger.
- Hobby – taking up a hobby will help your mental health and reduce stress
- Relaxation – making time for relaxation will help reduce stress and build resilience
- Supportive relationships – developing supportive relationships will give you a place to seek help should you need it.
- Yoga, Pilates or meditation – taking up any of these will help reduce stress, increase energy levels and quieten your mind.
- Talking – having a trusted, non-judgemental person to talk to is liberating and can reduce anxiety and depression and help you with the worries and issues that affect you.
Putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s essential
Helping others when your energy levels are low will drain you even more.
‘No’ is such a small word but can be so powerful. Coming to the aid of others when you don’t have the necessary energy will only deplete your own energy reserves more. Being able to say no at these times will give you more time and space in your life, more energy when you really need it, respect for yourself and confidence in knowing that you are looking after yourself the best way you can.
Putting yourself first and making sure you’re emotionally and physically well will give you the strength to help others.
Looking after yourself and putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s absolutely essential!!
HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
I work with people who love to help others but who also find it difficult to say no when they don’t have the energy to help. I help them to find ways to say no, without guilt so they can choose when and who to help.
If you would like to learn when and how to say no without guilt find out more by clicking Home
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