Wisdom from the FAA: Put Your Oxygen Mask on First, Before Helping Others
This weekend, mom flew in from New York City to visit me. My mother is an incredible and inspirational woman. She raised my family with endless compassion and made it her mission to persistently spoke our fires of creativity and self-expression. She is dedicated to learning and growing everyday: a rarity for a senior citizen. I am regularly reminded of her her commitment to self-growth with her tag line, “change is the only constant, honey”.
She visited at moment when I was incredibly busy. I’ve just moved into a new home, launched a new company and moved into a room with a girlfriend for the first time. It felt crunched. But, of course, I would make time; it is of great importance for me to always respect and honor her. I picked her up from the airport, and had her stay with me!
But, in reality, I was in no place to have guests in the house. And this dissonance, of me not respecting my own needs first, bubbled up feelings of resentment. I had no patience for what she was going through, and didn’t have the capacity to fully listen.
I find a good measure of my own self-growth is by how I act when I am with my nuclear family. And, I did not like who I was. I became uncharacteristically serious and stern. I felt exhaustion: a constant state of hurry and strain.
Lesson (Re)learned #1: Commit to Taking Space
When life gets busy, I can forget to check in with myself. This experience was a reminder for me to commit to my personal practice of daily meditation. Only through quiet self-reflection time can I process and release unneeded emotions and renew my spirit. When I feel clarity within myself, I am able to genuinely empathize and support those around me. When I neglect my alone time, I become disembodied and forget how to be unconditionally loving and compassionate with myself and resultantly with others.
Simple, right? But how do I make time?
Lesson (Re)learned #2: Set Boundaries
As a social being, it’s incredibly easy for me to fall into the flow of interactions: My best friend X is coming to visit, Y wants to hang out tomorrow, Z needs help moving furniture…etc. In the past, my default reactions have been to either avoid responding (never a fruitful choice), or to say yes.
I have been reminded that boundaries are a demonstration of respect. To respect myself, I must set boundaries to nurture and spend time in my own sacred garden. With the clarity of spirit I find there, I am able to be fully present with the needs of those around me.
Equally important is communicating those boundaries with others. By communicating my boundaries, I am able to manage other’s expectations of what I can offer in a given moment. Finding that resolution is closing an open energetic leak that would otherwise insidiously eat away at my energy.
Today I (re)committed to setting boundaries around my meditation practice. And just writing these words makes everything feel a little lighter.
Thank you for reading, -Ariel