Why do the airlines tell us to put our own oxygen mask on first then help others? Isn’t it because we can’t help others in the event of an emergency if we’ve suffocated? If you think about it, doesn’t that advice apply to life in general? In order to have a positive effect on the world around us and improve the lives of others, we need to put on our oxygen mask first to prevent suffocation on every level: personal, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, professional, and financial. And not only to prevent suffocation, but also to become the best version of ourselves to maximize the positive energies, success, pleasure, bliss, and abundance we create and share.
The airlines’ self-care instructions have two parts. First take care of yourself. Then take care of others around you. If you follow their advice, it’s a non-zero sum game in which if you win, those around you win. If you only take care of yourself first without then taking care of others, then you are imposing a narcissistic zero sum game in which you win and others lose on those around you. Contrary to the airlines’ astute self-care advice.
How are you doing at taking care of the person in your life who will have the single biggest impact on you and those around you? Namely YOU? Taking care of you is an essential part of mastering you from the inside out, realizing your full potential, and creating and sharing abundance of all kinds. Here’s a short test to help you evaluate your self-care:
- Do you love yourself unconditionally? Do you trust yourself? Are you happy with your integrity? Do you forgive yourself for making mistakes? Are you grateful to yourself? Are you focused on the positive as opposed to negative aspects of your life? Are you comfortable with your imperfections? Do you have unreasonable expectations of yourself? Do you have a self-improvement plan to address the aspects of your life that you’re not satisfied with? Do you relish your successes or are you preoccupied with what you could have done better. Whatever you feel about yourself and however you treat yourself is likely the same way you will feel about and treat others. It’s a double win or double whammy. If you treat yourself badly or in an unhealthy way, that is the way you’ll treat others and vice versa.
- Do you give and receive unconditionally? If so you are following the airlines’ advice. Unconditional giving means that you give your time, energy, attention, compliments, ideas and other intangible and tangible gifts without expecting anything in return. Expectations are the precursors to disappointment and resentment. If you’re giving a gift conditionally, that means you expect something in return. Some form of “payment.” When that “payment” for your conditional non-gift doesn’t materialize, you will likely be disappointed and resentful and the receiver of your gift will likely sense your resentment and will regret accepting your gift.
Unconditional receiving is also a way to put your oxygen mask on first then help others. When you unconditionally receive a gift, you’re grateful for the gift without having any expectations of being given similar gifts or gifts from that giver of any kind. Your gratitude without expectation is your oxygen mask then the oxygen mask you help the giver with. If you receive the gift conditionally meaning that your gratitude is conditional on the receipt of future gifts, when your expectation isn’t met, then you are disappointed and resentful, the giver senses your resentment and may regret giving you any gift in the first place.
Unconditional giving and receiving is especially important when it comes to intimacy and love making.
- The most powerful oxygen mask you can put on first, then help others is to be happy. Are you happy with the way you look? Feel? Your mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual health. All are very important. If you’re not, put your oxygen mask on first by doing what you need to do and get the help you need to be happy with who and what you are. Being happy with your sex life is especially important given that sexual energies are your creative life force energies. If the spark is gone from your relationship, don’t look elsewhere or have an affair, look inside you and your relationship and find some sort of alchemy, Tantra etc to get the spark back. The happier you are with who and what you are, including your sex life, the more oxygen you will share with others, the better all your relationships will be and the more productive you will be at work.
Think about a time when you put your oxygen mask on first and then helped others. And a time when you tried to help others without putting your oxygen mask on first. And a time when you put your oxygen mask on first and didn’t help others. Were the outcomes different? Did you feel differently? In which situation were you happier? In which situation did you feel some resentment? In which situation did those around you seem to benefit most?
Think of a relationship you’ve had with your job, a loved one, or a friend in which you maintained minimal to no boundaries, subordinated your needs and wants to those of your job or your relationship partner and accommodated, indulged, and accepted your job’s or partner’s behavior regardless of how inappropriate, disrespectful, or abusive that behavior was. A relationship in which you never put your oxygen mask on first. How did that relationship work for you? How would the relationship have been different if you put your oxygen mask on first?
Applying the airlines’ oxygen mask instructions to life in general is just another way of saying that you will treat others the way you treat yourself. If you love yourself unconditionally, you will love others unconditionally. If you give to and receive from yourself unconditionally, you will do the same for others. If you forgive yourself and let go of events from the past that don’t serve you, you will do the same for others. And you and those around you will be considerably happier and healthier.
So which oxygen mask do you think is better? One that is put on one of your loved ones by the YOU whose mask is already on or the YOU whose mask isn’t on? One that is put on by the YOU who loves and respects yourself or the YOU who doesn’t? One that is put on by the YOU who maintains healthy boundaries or the YOU who doesn’t? One put on by the YOU who is obsessed with work and hobbies that don’t provide them with any oxygen? The YOU who feels liberated or the YOU that is suffocating and feels trapped? The YOU who knows that your needs matter or the YOU who thinks they don’t? The YOU who is happy or the YOU who is resentful? The YOU who puts their mask on out of love or the YOU who feels obligated to do so? For more information on the importance of self care and putting your oxygen mask on first as a way to share the maximum amount of abundance with those around you, read Chapter 16, “The Self Care Test,” in my book, “Mastering You from the Inside Out, survive and thrive personally and professionally.” Or go to my website www.skipcummins.com.
Skip has lived a life full of opportunities of a lifetime at full throttle, following his maybe wrong but never in doubt philosophy. A life full of extraordinary successes and accomplishments, devastating tragedies, and spectacular mistakes and failures. All of which he owns, has embraced, is grateful for and from which he has learned many valuable lessons. Skip hopes to use his experiential knowledge to help you Master You, personally and professionally.