I am pretty sure I have shared this story before, but just in case you don’t remember, or haven’t read it, Imma gonna tell it again! 😉
When I was a young mother, I took my 18-month-old daughter on a plane ride with me to visit my sister across the country.
We were sitting in our semi-comfortable seat; she was my lap child–meaning she didn’t have her own ticket–she was just sitting in my lap.
Anyway, we had gotten settled into our seat when the stewardess started giving the safety and emergency evacuation instructions.
I remember very vividly after she was done with all the announcements, she came by and spoke directly to me, reminding me that I needed to secure my own oxygen mask before putting one on my baby.
I also very vividly remember being absolutely appalled at the idea that I would take care of myself before making sure my child was cared for.
Young. Naïve. Mom. Thought.
That is what I think now looking back at that memory. At that time, I had absolutely NO realization that in order for me to care for my baby, I HAD to take care of myself.
Have you ever thought what you would do if something happened to you and you were physically, mentally, or emotionally unable to care for yourself?
As terrible a thought as it can be, it is reality that we all will die someday and we have absolutely zero guarantees that we will be here tomorrow.
If you died today, who would take care of your children?
That was the thought that woke me up from this young mother naivety.
This was what helped me understand the importance of literally and figuratively “securing” my own oxygen mask in life before trying to secure someone else’s.
Because if you run out of oxygen, it doesn’t matter if your child’s is. You will not be there to help them with anything else.
This idea also has been a reminder to me in all aspects of my life and I would like to offer that it also applies to love.
If you do not love yourself first, it doesn’t matter if or how anyone else loves you.
Do you know why?
Because no one can read your mind. And no one can give you something you do not give yourself. Because you won’t even know what you want or how you feel loved.
Not authentically anyway.
Jay Shetty explains it as giving it to yourself first. Whatever it is you want from someone else, give it to yourself first.
If you want praise, give it to yourself first.
If you want recognition or validation or compassion…give it to yourself first.
Brene Brown explains that we are not mind readers as humans unfortunately, and so when we have an expectation or a desire for someone to treat us a certain way, we will almost always be disappointed because we rarely explain EXACTLY what it is we want and how.
And the other person is going to give to us in a way that THEY know how; not in the way we do.
Now, this isn’t saying you can’t have expectations of others.
But, what if, instead of expecting them to behave how WE want them to, we just allow them to be WHO THEY ARE….
This also does not mean that loving yourself first means you do not love anyone else.
Taking care of your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual needs does not mean you are not also taking care of those same needs for others.
It just means that you allow yourself to love and take care of your needs the way you know how. Because you are the only one who really understands exactly what that looks like.
It means that you are more capable to be present, aware and able to help care for those you love.
It means that we are no longer looking to others to fill our needs.
It means not expecting others to satisfy something only you can give yourself.
It means the freedom to CHOOSE the love you want in your life from others instead of looking for someone to complete, fix, or make you feel something.
So take some time to figure out what you are seeking from others.
And start giving it to yourself.
Because no one can love you more than you love yourself.