Many of us are caregivers. We take care of our children, our parents, our friends and spouses. Some of that responsibility is thrust upon us through circumstance; some of it we take on because, well…it’s just who we are. When they’re in need or when they hurt, we’re there to listen, to bring a pot of soup, or to comfort them when they’re sick or lonely or afraid or depressed. And people learn to depend on us.
And at some point, we’ve probably felt like it’s becoming “too much.” We can’t stop caring about and for all those others because they depend on us. But we can feel ourselves being pulled in every direction and it can become overwhelming. We convince ourselves that we can’t say, “no,” to anyone, and well. . .we can sleep when we’re dead, right? They need us, after all.
We can feel ourselves becoming overwhelmed. The problems and ills of all the people we care about and care for pile on top of our own. Perhaps they’re even taking priority over ours.
Well, guess what? Our flight attendant was right.
Every time we take a plane trip, before takeoff, the flight attendant gives the safety speech. He or she talks about fastening our seatbelts and keeping our seatbacks in an upright position. And then the flight attendant tells us what to do in the event of loss of cabin pressure.
“An oxygen mask will drop from overhead. Always fit your own mask before helping children, the disabled, or persons requiring assistance.”
ALWAYS FIT YOUR OWN MASK BEFORE HELPING CHILDREN, THE DISABLED, OR PERSONS REQUIRING ASSISTANCE.
And there’s an extremely good reason for this. Because if we don’t put OUR masks on first, there’s a very good chance we won’t be able to assist anyone else.
Many of us try (and I mean, really try) to be everything to everyone ALL. THE. TIME. It’s a noble endeavor, but not realistic and ultimately, not healthy for us and not for the people we think we’re helping. We need to force ourselves to remember that there will always be those who need us and we, because of who we are, will want to help and be there for them. But in order to truly be able to be there for them, we have to realize that we can only do that when we take care of ourselves first.
It’s not “selfish” to say, “No, I can’t help you right now.” It’s okay to say, “I have to have time for myself right now.” The sky will not fall if we say, “I can’t volunteer for this today.”
It’s about saving ourselves, so we have the strength to be the caregivers we want to be.