Let me start this topic with the following question: When was the last time you took a plane ride?
I have flown on so many planes that I have just about memorized the safety demonstration the flight attendants perform before the plane catapults us all into the air. I like the safety demonstrations. It's important to know what to do in the event of a crash, although they sometimes term it in less scary terms, like a "water landing."
The main reason I like the presentation is that I enjoy planning ways to get out of life-threatening situations. Therefore, hearing the safety talk gives me comfort. I at least have a plan of action if my plane starts having issues.
Like I've said, I have heard these demonstrations a lot, but every time the flight attendants talk about what to do if the oxygen masks come down, I pay attention. They always advise to "Apply the oxygen mask to yourself, and then to the person or child next to you."
They assume that everyone on the plane knows the basic truth that if you are not breathing in oxygen from said mask in an oxygen-depleted plane that is crashing, you cannot help anyone else because you will be unconscious (and probably on the way to being dead because you need oxygen to live).
I think we can apply this logic to our lives outside of the airplane terminal.
The plane is your life, the airplane seat is where you are right now (your job, relationship status, etc.), and you are buckled in for a ride to your destination, which is your goal. You have put a lot of effort in accomplishing said goal, but the journey is not over yet... a lot can still go wrong. Sometimes, our lives are wrecked because of outside sources.
If your life, your "plane ride," starts experiencing issues and the "oxygen masks" come down because a life crisis is happening, you need to grab that oxygen mask for yourself. The crisis could be anything –– a failed exam, death of someone you know, financial burdens piling up, or something else.
Your lifeline, your oxygen mask, could be the friends and family supporting you, the passions that make life meaningful when everything else is bleak, or a beloved pet that knows exactly how to comfort you. Grab that oxygen mask and hold on tight, because you need help to get through this.
Choosing to help yourself when you need it does not mean you are weak –– it means you are strong enough to acknowledge you matter and taking care of yourself matters first. How will you take care of the things you need to do, or the people who need your help, if you are crashing?
Having a "Me First" mentality is beneficial for so many reasons, but let me highlight just a couple.
Think of all the million little connections you have with people during the day, from the grocery store line to the people you live with.
Think of all the ways you could improve your connections with others if you just took 45 minutes each day (yes, each day) for yourself to doodle, listen to that bumpin' music you love, or take an emergency nap. If you're depleted from goodness (oxygen), then you might not be thinking straight and end up saying some mean words to a loved one. Words can either wreck or improve someone's day. Stay connected to goodness to spread it to others.
Identify why your "airplane" is having issues. Is it that pesky ex who keeps messaging you? Say goodbye. Is it the landlady who never sprays your apartment for bugs, even though the bugs have been bugging you for a month now? Take action. Is it that soul-sucking fear that you will never achieve your dream? Make a plan to make your dream a reality (look at this article I wrote to help you with planning https://www.theodysseyonline.com/those-resolutions-though).
The most important thing to do is to listen to your body's responses to life situations. By tuning out the distracting noises in your brain, you will start realizing what is good for you and what needs to be ditched. The following article gives some solid advice on how to do this essential part of the "Me First" mentality: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/i-choose-me-and-why-you-should-choose-yourself/
The "Me First" Mentality is healthy for us. If we take care of ourselves first more often, I predict we will be more joyous, buoyant, and open-minded people. If we all choose "Me First," then maybe we would have more meaningful interactions with others. I would like to live in a world when the norm is happiness instead of people getting burnt out because they never take time for themselves to recharge (or avoid depletion in the first place).
Overall, I am not asking "How long can you survive without your 'oxygen'?"
I am asking you to consider how long can you thrive with it.