Help Yourself First

Just as when we sit on an airplane, during the instructions from the stewards about safety, we hear, “If you are with a child or someone needing help, fix your own oxygen mask first, then help them with theirs.” It becomes apparent you cannot help someone if you are lacking oxygen. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

It does, unless we’ve grown up in a dysfunctional family, one who practices codependency. It’s not unusual for the adults to bluster, fluster, and scatter about, with high anxiety, and craziness everywhere, re-enacting “Who’s on First?” I’m glad to see almost every bit of self-care writing begins with taking care of you first.

It’s neurotic and just impractical to care to the health, welfare, and happiness of everyone else first. A natural answer to the question, “What can I do to others,” is not do for others so they don’t have to do for themselves. Enabling is just that – doing so they don’t have to for themselves. They will learn nothing if you do it for them, except to learn how to manipulate others into enabling them.

Certitude is the absolute conviction that something is true. Once we make others understand we are all here to take care of ourselves, we will have the confidence to set boundaries and enforce them. We will also be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Not many of us can do both at once. It’s a difference in our lives we can be proud to model to others.

As we practice self-care and boundaries, we see the value in others doing for themselves. There is no contest for self-sacrifice, especially when it’s destructive to us and others. Having strong convictions about these things is what makes us good examples, citizens, and friends. Try establishing this as a habit for yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

As we get closer to Thanksgiving, it’s easy to feel alone and out of it. We may need to work at remembering how we are blessed instead of what we are lacking. Take extra time to be grateful and you will soon be changing your outlook. It is so very worth it. I remember years when the most I was grateful for was that the car started. Or it was paid for. And no one was ill or arrested or hungry. Look deep, you’ll be surprised what you realize.

Have a good rest of the evening, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow. Be safe out there.

Nice Guys Finish Last

Leo Durocher is credited with saying this. He is a famous American baseball player, manager, coach, and fiesty human being. He was not afraid to voice his opinion, causing him to be ejected from many games during his long career. I was unable to find the circumstances surrounding the quote he’s famous for saying. I did read he had a habit of writing bad checks to cover his lavish lifestyle. He wrote a book with this title, “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

Is that really true? Sometimes we give empathy and care for people we shouldn’t. We may actually say, “Nice guys finish last,” and making it our mantra. “Poor Nancy. Everyone takes advantage of her.” No. Nancy probably needs to set boundaries and not enable people, family, children, cousins, boyfriends, or her husband. If we don’t say, “No,” we are fair game and should not feel sorry for ourselves.

It took me a long time to learn I had to stop being a doormat. Stop trying to make it up to my mom when my brothers didn’t do what they were supposed to. Stop giving my empathy away to those who were not worthy. My family has a lot of “all or nothing” circumstances. Us giving more of a damn to help a loved one recover from a bad break, alcoholism or drug abuse, or whatever lies they tell themselves to justify your taking care of them. You’re hurting much more than helping. I’ve been there.

To my horror, I discovered the people I loved a lot were doing nothing to help themselves during their own recovery. I’ve helped them avoid hefty fines, jail time, bill collectors, and old girlfriends. I did not realize they were not the people I thought they were. Especially the relatives. I had to say goodbye to the people I thought they were. Then I had to accept the fact I believed the lies, the manipulation, and the grooming. I felt so foolish. It was devastating.

I’ve learned all of that showed me what they were. It showed me the fault was with them. And I bought into it. Hook, line, and sinker. I know better now. I have learned so much; about the pent up anger I’ve had for a long time, about I cannot make up for other’s hurts, and that I come from a family who has addictive personalities. Many of us do.

There are so many things we can be addicted to. Online shopping. Collecting things. Food. Sugar. Alcohol and Drugs. Prescription drugs. The list is long. If one is good, three are fabulous. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling. Until the regret sets in. I remember making large unnecessary purchases and on the way to the car, I knew I shouldn’t have spent all the money I did. I paid all the credit cards off, and the only thing I overdo spending with is Amazon.

To counteract that, yesterday, I applied for a library card with our town library. I’m hoping to make friends with the staff and donate many of the books I have but no longer use. If they have room! Progress. Yes, I will have an organized library. Progress is my word of the year, and I will work on Progress with all the things I want. Keep moving, it helps! It will be nice to go inside a library again.

Take a chance by establishing some new habits that will set you up to succeed, not fail or remain stagnant. It’s how we grow as individuals and simplify our lives. Off to do some more of that very thing. And read a book later. Or sooner. Stay warm, be safe, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow.