I was on the plane , on my way back from London and during the safety video demonstration; there is this scene where a young mother is shown putting on an oxygen mask and then reaching out for another oxygen mask to attend to her child. The scene is accompanied by a voice over saying “in case of decompression, reach for the nearest available oxygen mask and don on your face and mouth like this!!. Attend to yourself before helping others.” The others in this case being her young son.
As a mother, however my first reaction would be to save my child first and then try and save myself. So the scene in the video was a little disturbing. However when I really thought about it , it all made sense. How would I be able to save my child if I wasn’t even around to save my child. At a time where seconds make a difference, what if in my attempt to save my child, I got so incapacitated that I was not able to save myself or my child.
This got me to the question of life. How often in our attempt to please others do we sacrifice our own interests with unsatisfying results. Very often we put others desires before our own, we sacrifice our dreams and happiness to fulfill those of our loved ones, but does it always lead to the best solution?
I was talking to a friend of mine and she started complaining about how tired she always feels as she has to constantly run around catching flights to see her husband and children in Taiwan. She lives and works in Hong Kong and her family lives in Taiwan which is about an hour away by plane. Although not too far, it is rather stressful for her to catch flights every other day to see her family. She would not have it any other way. However the stress of doing this every other day started to take its toll and she started resenting the fact that it was always her who had to do the travelling. When I asked her if her family could visit her once in a while, instead of her jumping on the plane every time, she promptly said, “ Oh no! I couldn’t subject them to that.”
So what is the solution? Either she quits her job and moves back to Taiwan, or she moves her husband and children to Hong Kong . Both options are not really financially feasible at this stage. So she continues to do what she hates to do. She has now become very resentful, resentful of her job, resentful of her children, resentful of her husband and resentful of herself for becoming so resentful.
Where do you think all this resentment will lead? Obviously not towards a happy fulfilling life! Even though she undertakes the necessary physical travel to be with her family, she is mentally, emotionally and physically drained. Wouldn’t it better for her to put herself first? At least then she could give her undivided attention to her family and do it happily.
We are all guilty of self sacrifice at some stage or the other. Although a great gesture, it does leave us rather unfulfilled at times. It leads to anger, frustration and resentment and in the end everyone suffers.
I read this at a fountain in New Zealand “ To thine own self be true.” It made me stop and take notice, I thought to myself , how simple and yet so profound. If we are not being true to our own selves how can we ever be true to anyone else?
So get selfish, put out your own needs and wants and expect fulfillment. Often it’s the women who make more sacrifices; they often give up their careers to follow their husbands or to bring up children.
I recently met with many women who seemed rather unhappy with the choices they had made. Society puts so much pressure on us to follow the expected path of self sacrifice and makes us feel guilty of self fulfillment. Mothers do and will always make sacrifices for their children; but should they be made to feel guilty if they choose to pursue their own passions?
I don’t know the answer; I think it is a very individual choice. I can’t be the one to tell a person how to lead his/her life. They need to make their own decisions and choices, but the one thing they really need to do is to be happy with the decision they make. Why be resentful of something that you are choosing to do? You made a decision, so may as well enjoy the outcome. Why deliberate and second guess yourself? I remember my friend saying “Either Shit or get off the pot.”
So yes, go out please yourself and then please others. An unhappy person can never make anyone else happy even if he/she tries. They have about them a kind of tiredness and negativity that follows them around.
“Be the person that walks into the room and the room lights up and not the person that walks out of the room and the room lights up.”