I was coming back from a trip a few weeks ago, it was like any other…I was happily situated in my window seat so that I am not disturbed. I have my blanket, headphones, lumbar support, neck pillow, water, snacks, phone charger and laptop… oh and a book. In case I get bored. Did I mention this was a 2 1/2 hour flight? I am that obnoxious person who can fall asleep before the plane takes off, and will sleep for most of the entire flight (whether it is 1 or 10 hours.) On this particular flight, though, I was not preparing to sleep, but to work on a speaking gig, and the deadline was barreling at me like a tomato in the Tomatina Festival in Spain (helloooo most epic amazing fun day ever!). As the flight attendant went through the safety demonstration (I am pretty sure at this point I can repeat it in my sleep) he got to the part, “place your oxygen mask on first, before assisting anyone else” and I had to stop a moment. I tuned out the rest and repeated that to myself… place my own oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is this so critical? Because if I can’t breathe, I ain’t gonna be helpin’ nobody. Makes sense.
Every Flight Attendant, Every Airline
“Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.”
So why then, is it socially unacceptable in our day-to-day lives to put ourselves first? Is that not a mode of survival? Does it have merit? Let’s for a moment, imagine a conversation between a passenger and flight attendant….
Passenger: Excuse me, sir, I won’t be placing my oxygen mask on first. I would hate to be thought of as not valuing my fellow passenger’s lives, to be seen as uncaring, I would feel so judged and ashamed, or worse, selfish.
Flight attendant: So, because of what other passengers may or may not think about the situation, you are willing to potentially sacrifice yourself and in turn other passengers… because, ya know, you’ll be incapacitated, or worse, dead.
It’s a bit absurd, yes?
Selfish vs. Self-ish vs. Self-Care
When you hear selfish, what comes up for you? How does it make you feel? Anxious? Ashamed? Judged? Do you feel like a bad person if someone calls you selfish? Is it self-indulgent? Egotistical? When you hear self-care, what comes to mind? How does it make you feel?Good? Connected? Loving? Nurturing? Attuned? Healthy?When we care for ourselves, we are rejuvenated, re-fueled, refreshed (all the RE’s) and our life force energy is topped off.
We know that self-care is socially acceptable (it has become quite a fad in fact) and we know that there is a social stigma surrounding selfishness. A Google search lists the definition of selfishness as, “being concerned, sometimes excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.” The only person who knows what will bring us true meaning and purpose is ourselves.
What I posit is that the Art of Self-ish takes into consideration others, but it requires that we do so from a place of self-knowledge. In fact, it is finding a balance between self and other. To practice the Art of Self-ish is to know our core truths. What are our needs? Wants? Desires? Do we articulate and assert them? When we know our core truths and know ourselves at this level, we have the capacity to give more to others while living a joyful life. And, isn’t that what we are all seeking? To live our one, oh so precious, life joyfully and with purpose?
This is your permission, go live a little bit more selfishly, we all will be better for it. What will you do to live your most joyful life? I want to know, tell me what are your thoughts on The Art of Self-ish?