Recently I was lucky enough to go away on a weekend of fun with my daughter and sister. When I was on the plane ✈️ I was again reminded of the importance of self-care when the hostess said
"It is important that you put the mask on yourself before helping others"
This reminded me of the big debate I am often confronted with which is – is this behaviour selfish?
I find everyone's definition of selfish is different. Some people believe it is better to be self-sacrificing, never thinking of themselves and only serve. This is admirable but the danger is that it can lead to resentment, anger, disappointment and loss of your sense of self. It can also make you become exhausted, depleted and empty. People sometimes think being a martyr is more appealing and people pleasing behaviour will ensure you are always liked. I have recently read that the need to please others is essentially a defence against the fear of abandonment.
So what am I like?
I care about myself and don't give this responsibility to others. I do things for others but also look after myself. As a parent, I do lots of stuff for my children but also take lots of time out for myself as well. I know if you have young children this is not as easy but even small breaks can make all the difference to the type of parent you are.
I do not have an issue with saying 'no', I do not have an issue with missing out. This does not mean that I am a recluse. I am passionate about pushing myself outside my comfort zone. So walking into a room full of strangers on my own or trying something new are things I do quite regularly. I like to push myself, so often I will not automatically choose 'no' if I think it is for my higher good. Ultimately, I am choosing yes to challenge myself but not out of obligation or guilt. I think it then comes from a more genuine place.
I do not suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) but do love this:
￼I have noticed that when I stop worrying about what other people think it is just so freeing. These days I don't do much that I don't want to do and this is a very conscious decision I have made. You can guarantee though, that if I show up or do something it is with fullness and authentic joy. Having the choice is beautiful and means I come from a place of desire not obligation.
I understand that sometimes you might not feel as though you really have a choice. But you can just change your point of view. On a Sunday I spend the day watching my son play cricket and yes I could be doing many other things but I enjoy it. I see it as a day I get to spend outdoors, often chatting to other interesting parents and relaxing in a comfortable chair. The best part is the one on one time I get to spend with my son as we drive there and back. I get to support him and get a heartfelt, "thanks for coming mum", from him at the end of each game. It is win win.
I guess my message is that – yes to some people I may seem selfish that I only do things that make me happy. You may think that saying no means I miss opportunities but I don't. I am constantly outside my comfort zone but it is because I choose that challenge for myself. I am finding that living like this brings me and those around me more and more joy.
So on a plane and in life, I am putting the mask on myself first because looking after myself means that I can help and support others. Self-care is not selfish. Loving yourself means appreciating yourself for who you are as a person. The more you embrace self-love and carry the empathy that comes along with it, the more aware you become of both yourself and others. Ultimately, you cannot serve from an empty vessel.