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  • janetgoncalves

Put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others

I just came back from a solo quick trip to Ontario using two discount airlines. When we fly using a Canadian airline, the cabin crew always does a safety drill demonstration first in English and then in French. One thing they always mention is put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Their rationale is to take care of yourself so your help can be more effective to those travelling with you who may need your assistance.


The Divergent series features a futuristic world where the population is sorted into different factions based upon their personality. The factions are called Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intellectual), Dauntless (brave), Candor (honest), and Amity (peaceful).

Many people in today’s modern world (including many that I know personally) would align themselves with Abnegation and put others before themselves. It goes against our grain to help ourselves instead of reaching out to help others. “Service before self” is a motto they follow.


The bible’s greatest commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself. So, why is it so difficult to actually do this self-care both in an emergency and during our normal daily routine? Perhaps it is the realization that sometimes it is our own selves who are also vulnerable and in need of self-care.


Vulnerability is a state of emotional exposure that comes with a certain degree of uncertainty. Vulnerability can be a strength. It can help us foster better connections and relationships with others. It fosters better emotional and mental health. With vulnerability we build better emotional empathy. We can be our better, authentic selves.

Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively. The practice of self-care also reminds both you and others that your needs are valid and a priority.


So, no, I do not think putting yourself first is selfish. Quite the opposite. The more you can voice your needs, respect yourself, accept your limits and make space for your own wellbeing, the more space you’ll have to help others achieve the same.

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