If you have ever been on an airplane and listened to the safety briefing, the attendant will explain the reason for and the proper use of an oxygen mask. They say you must put your mask on first then help those that are seated near you.
To me, it parallels life. I would suspect many of us have disregarded the need to take care of ourselves first. We may even find ourselves and our resources exhausted, depleted or absent from time to time due to the many ways we give ourselves or our resources away.
Instead of putting on our oxygen mask first with the situations and circumstances of our lives, we hurry and scurry about trying to fix, manage and control the people in our lives. Often we do this out of some sense that we are helping, supporting, taking care or easing suffering. We find ways to step in even when they didn't ask us and we are upset when they ignore, refuse or dismiss our attempts to ease their pain or suffering. Even if they accept our offer, it usually comes with unspoken attachments, agendas or conditions. Notice the many subtle ways oxygen or "life" can be drained from relationships.
In our attempt to give, we actually take away the potential for others to take responsibility for themselves. Their learning, growth and potential is diminished when we make their business ours. It is like we are taking their oxygen mask away from them.
What if the suffering you are really trying to diminish is that which is inside of you? When we project our own internal, unhealed, unprocessed or incomplete suffering onto others, we go to sleep on where the real healing and taking care can make a difference. It is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
Practicing taking care of yourself with healthy and forwarding thoughts, words and actions will diminish the futile attempts to unconsciously "get your real needs met" through engaging with the situations and circumstances of other people's stuff. Observe this as a turning point and practice putting your oxygen mask on first while allowing others to do the same.
Now, don't get me wrong. There are people that love when you step in. It takes the responsibility off of them. It also gives them someone to blame when things don't work out. Pay attention to the oxygen drains in your life. Are they people, thoughts, emotions, actions, choices, attachments, beliefs, etc? And on the flip side, where or with whom are you an oxygen drain on others?
Next time you feel frantic, anxious, stressed or fearful of what is going on in someone else's life, stop, put your oxygen mask on, take a deep breath and look inward. Notice what belief, story, judgment or attachment is calling for your attention and ask yourself a question.
Am I taking too much responsibility for others or not enough responsibility for myself?
What can you do to turn the attention back on you and your unhealed, unprocessed or incomplete thoughts, words and actions?