reflection : yourself

1 – Do Something Kind For Yourself

The concept of this first theme is summed up simply by the directions you are given on an airplane to put on your own air mask before helping those next to you. Why? Because to be able to do anything well you need to first take care of yourself.

This is easy for some people and hard for others. It can also be confusing. In reflecting on your own experience and in moving forward, consider ways you can take care of yourself that allow you to be in the best position to fulfill your unique potential. What things do you do that fill you with joy, that literally inspire you (fill you with spirit)? With these three themes I want to encourage you to pay special attention to what brings you joy in completing them.

But what about the idea of self-indulgence? Indeed, in our culture we seem to have made synonymous the prioritizing of ourselves with self-indulgence, selfishness and even arrogance. I think in our hearts we know the difference. As you consider and complete each of the next two themes, spend some time considering this difference.

Be aware that I’m using the words “act” and “action” in the broadest sense. You may find that for you the best way to fulfill a theme is in a metaphorical way rather than a literal way. For me, an action can be a shift in your awareness or attitude. Paying attention to your internal processes and aligning with your own inner knowledge isn’t indulgent, although I acknowledge that it sometimes may look that way to others. The key is being honest with yourself.

Now on to the second theme!

11 thoughts on “reflection : yourself

  1. Each time I board an airplane I hear the message about helping yourself before helping another and I have to consciously remind myself of the reasoning behind it. I think of having a child and how difficult it would be to help myself when my child needs help…It is like first aid/CPR training when respondents are told to stop before helping and not to help if we could become injured ourselves. Cognitively it all makes sense but emotionally it is so much more difficult. There is an innate drive in many of us to do what we can to alleviate the suffering of another – particularly when we feel a kinship, when we see and acknowledge our common humanity. Too often individualist societies encourage members to turn off such a sense of community and fellowship as being too dependent on others; but in other societies others are also important (maybe even more so than the individual). I believe it is important to value both the self and others but, funnily enough, it is easier for me to care for others than to care for myself. Cognitively, I know how important caring for myself is in regards to my ability to care for others but emotionally it sometimes feels like I am taking from others in order to do so. I thus have to consciously remind myself of the love others hold for me and how important it is to take care myself so that I can be there for them…that caring for myself and being happy is another way of showing my love for them.

    • Ah, yes, the balance between what we know cognitively and what we feel emotionally. Like you, I have a hard time imagining being on an airplane when the oxygen masks fall and not instinctively first moving to help my child. I’d think I could hold my breath long enough to see that her air supply was flowing. But if I fumbled with it and passed out or panicked or otherwise wasn’t able to get hers going in time to get mine going, we’d both be lost. There it is, cognitive and emotional. I wonder where in my life, especially as a parent, I do this, try to put on her mask before mine… Thanks for posting! –Andy

  2. I can see why it would be important to put on your mask first. You have to be able to breathe yourself before you can help other people breathe. I am sure when someone is in a situation like this they would act on instinct. I am not a mother but I have heard of mother’s instinct when their child is in danger. I also have taken a self defense class. I learned that when you are in danger you only have 30 seconds to react to a situation before your body starts to shut down. There is so much adrenaline in your body and then it slowly shuts down.

    • Wow, I’d not heard before the “30 seconds to respond to danger” timeframe before. That makes the air mask analogy all the more relevant. Thanks for sharing that!

      • No, sorry the 30 seconds is if you are being attacked by someone. I am not sure what the time would be for the air mask would be on an airplane.

          • Actually it depends on high you are and how much of a pressure leak there is. It could be 30 secs or as few as 10 secs. Great analogy for this lesson!

  3. I find it truly hard for me to think about myself that much. In the mornings, I get up earlier than I need to, to make sure my kids have everything they need and make sure they have time to take a shower if they need too.

    I have heard from a lot of people in my life that I need to take care of me first and everyone else second, but I have a very hard time with this.

    • Hi Angela!

      You may want to think of something kind to do for yourself that may seem almost too small to count. Then take the time, as little as it is, to complete it. As you do, do your best to allow yourself to fully engage in the activity. In other words, allow yourself to fully enjoy it – without guilt or allowing your awareness to go to something else. Again, choose something small that better ensures you’ll be able to stay focused on yourself.

      The idea here is to try to build a success, recognizing that you are worthy of and deserving of self-kindness.

      Let me know how it goes, okay?


  4. My focused action today was TO PUT INTO ACTION what I have been wanting to do for myself since more than a week and didn’t: preparing myself a hot water basin with scented salt for my feet. The warmth, the nice smell, the color and almost above all the pure joy about HAVING DONE IT finally! Andy you write about building a success: yes, once I am there, I want more. Of course. So, my feet in the water, the sunset out there and I decided (again) to do something nice for myself everyday. And I know it will only work if I keep it simple. As a matter of fact, I think the previous kindness act was to place the scented salt very very visible in my bathroom.

    • This is a great example of completing this kind action, Nara! Thanks for taking the time to share it. I hope to hear from you again and please continue to make use of the Kind Living resources. If I can do anything for you, please let me know. –Andy

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