We’ve all heard the saying: “Place your oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others.” And it sounds good in theory; ensuring your cup is filled so that you can better serve others. But if you think about when this saying is deployed—in the case of an extreme emergency—the context makes the directive a bit jarring. If you only wait until you’re in extreme need of self-work to actually do the work, getting out of that hole is going to be a lot harder. Instead, self-work should be a practice you build upon each day. Instead of being at the bottom of the well, trying to work your way up, you’ll always be near the top of that well. And when you think about it, if your cup is constantly being topped off, you’ll always be able to serve others, and in a better capacity.
So, what is self-work? Well, I think it differs for everyone. Generally, it’s anything you do to work toward self-improvement. Things that make you feel good, from the inside out. It can be therapy, meditation, working out, practicing gratitude and kindness, nourishing your body in a way that makes you feel good, practicing joy, indulging in your hobbies, working diligently toward personal or business goals, spending time with people who make you feel seen, journaling, learning, and more. It can be self-care, but there’s more to self-work than booking yourself a massage. All of these things work together to make a person feel more whole. And, when you’re more whole, you have more to give. It’s being selfish in order to be selfless.
In a world where we’re constantly overloaded with work and mundane day-to-day tasks, it’s important to prioritize your wholeness as a person. I truly believe that we were put on this planet to be connected and to serve others. To give back to the next generation, to inspire, and to help each other achieve our dreams. To rise together. But, in order to do that, we must factor self-work into the equation.
This is something I must constantly remind myself. It can be easy to give and give, especially if that is what brings you joy. My outward love language is definitely acts of service. But if we’re constantly giving, and never working to replace what we give, what will we have left? The key is that it’s on US to fill our own cups. No one can do it for you.