Put The Mask On Yourself First!

Self-Care and Compassion- What is it?

Most of us have flown on a plane. If we listen to the emergency instructions, the flight attendants will tell you-If the cabin loses pressure, masks will drop from overhead compartment. Please pull back on the rubber band to secure it to your face and the air will flow automatically. Breathe normally and the bag will inflate. Please secure the mask on yourself first, before attempting to help the elderly or young children. Why? Because if you pass out, you cannot help anyone.

Simple idea, yet not so easy to follow for many of us. Some of us were raised to believe helping others is more important, more pious, more generous then helping or caring for ourselves. Some of us might have even got the message that self-care is SELFISH or WRONG or BAD. Worst of all, many of us might have gotten the message that WE are bad, wrong, selfish to take care of ourselves. 

What does compassion mean? Merriam-Webster definition: "noun, com·pas·sion \kəm-ˈpa-shən\: a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc. Full Definition:  sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it".  Therefore, self-compassion, begins with caring. Caring about one's own pain, one's own troubles or distress. Self-care is part of compassion for oneself.  If we do not care for ourselves first, we will not be of much help to others. 

Mindfulness techniques are a way to care for ourselves, by beginning to care about our own pain, our own distress or suffering. As we use mindfulness in meditation and in our lives, we will be able to become aware of thoughts about our pain. We can begin to challenge those thoughts which are not helpful, not true or unkind.  Ignoring, pushing away or attempting to change pain when it is present with thoughts or other various methods does not work very well or for very long.  Mindfulness can allow us to relate differently to our pain.  We must begin with ourselves.

As our self-compassion grows, so it will increase for others.