Put your own oxygen mask

In the past few months my life went from comfortable to everything I thought it will never be. In just a few short months I got my Bachelor’s, got into grad school, dropped out, came home after three years of living alone and became a waitress collecting her tuition fee for a private university. That’s a lot to happen in a few months.

Since the day I started to realize I was unhappy about my life, while I was still at my university, I encountered a big problem I used to struggle with as a kid while my abusive father was living with us. My panic attacks were back. It was overwhelming. It was scary. It was also a big, fucking neon sign that said “GET OUT!”.

In these few months I realized the importance of one very simple sentence everyone heard if they were ever on a plane (I was actually never on a plane). The sentence goes: First put your own oxygen mask.

There is so much meaning in this sentence and I guess I, myself, had to go through a bunch of problems, get my panic attacks again to realize I have chosen to take that oxygen mask off and deprive myself of air for so long. I was completely neglecting myself just to make everyone else happy and maintain a certain image about myself because I thought and was taught all my life that I had to do everything to come off as a well put-together person. I was also taught that a university degree is the only road to success, that other peoples’ opinions matter the most etc. I was force fed a lot of bullshit through my life and I am here to tell you to slap that damn oxygen mask on your face.

Stop suffocating yourself and stop making yourself small in order to fit in with some worthless standards our societies and upbringing have made us follow. If you are not happy with yourself, not only are you hurting yourself but you are hurting the people who care about you. When you are in a bad place in your life for a longer period of time you can’t be the person, child, mother, sister, worker, friend, girlfriend, boyfriend that you actually want to be. If you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else or make anyone else happy.

Also, if you sacrifice your happiness and wellbeing to make others happy and satisfied with time you will start to resent them and blame them for your own unhappiness. Let me just get this clear. It’s not their damn fault, it’s yours and you need to own up to your mistakes. It was your choice to sacrifice your mental health to make someone else happy. Don’t drown yourself in sorrow now – TAKE ACTION!

Get yourself out of that dark place, find your oxygen mask and put it on. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary. Make yourself the person you want to be so that you could be the person people you care about need. Put yourself first and, I can’t stress this out enough, that is not selfish. Your happiness and mental health are just as important as everyone else’s and it depends on you.

To repeat again (I feel like a parrot): First, put your own oxygen mask!

Believe yourself

One of the motivational quotes all of us have heard is “Believe in yourself”. I completely believe in that concept and I think everyone should believe in themselves and have faith that they can do whatever they want and believe they are enough.

Today, less and less people believe in themselves and have low self-esteem. There are many factors to blame for this, for example maybe someone has insulted you or bullied you or you went through a traumatic experience. Also, there is our perspective of ourselves. We often compare our life, success and looks to other’s and this makes us believe we are not good enough or that we lack something which consequently leads us to stop believing in ourselves.

There is also one more thing about which I want to write about today that stops us from believing in ourselves. We don’t believe ourselves. I know its similar and I know some of you are like “what is she talking about” but let me break it down for you with examples. All of us have at least 4 times in our lives committed to exercising and being fit and the majority of us gave up on that idea every time. Another example for my students out there – every year you promise yourself you will catch up with work on time and won’t leave your studying and essays for the last minute and you do it anyways.

These are not just words. These are promises we keep on breaking. We do not stick to the word we give ourselves and this is building a negative mindset. If you don’t believe what you promise to yourself, how on earth are you supposed to believe in yourself? This is a question most of us overlook and it leads us to run in circles of getting an idea, trying, giving up, feeling like a failure and then again getting an idea… You get the point. The only way to break this is to keep the promises we make to ourselves.

When you constantly give up and break your word, it actually gets easier for you to make a new promise. You say to yourself that you will get up in the morning, have a healthy breakfast and go for a quick run and you actually do it. You feel great but what’s the problem? With time your comfort zone starts to manipulate your brain because you’ve allowed it to do so on so many different occasions. Your brain did not perceive that promise as something solid because you’ve broken it on so many occasions. In the end you find yourself right back with your old habits which make you comfortable but do not fulfill you. You have made your word insignificant and meaningless to your brain. It’s time to change that. You need to be able to believe what you say to yourself every single day!

I have a few steps which could help you stay committed to your goal and to keep your promise to yourself. So firstly, you will write your promise down on a piece of paper and keep it in a place where you can always reach it whether it’s your wallet, phone case or something else. Read the promise loud to yourself a few times.

After completing the first step, it’s time for the second. Make a plan that you will be able to stick to. And I put the emphasize on the last part. Don’t put too much on your shoulders because the weight will drive you to the ground and you will give up again. For example, if you have a busy schedule and want to work out don’t tell yourself you’ll do it every day. Do it every other day, or promise yourself that you won’t let more than two days pass between workouts. You will stick to your plan and it will bring up all of these positive emotions and you will feel accomplished. With time you will expand your plan, make more time to fulfill your promise because it will make you feel great.

The third step is to withdraw yourself for situations which will make you break your promise. Let’s say you have committed to eating less junk food and sugar. Acknowledge the situations in which you feel like eating junk food, for example while you’re watching movies, going out with friends or feeling sad. Just stop watching movies for a while, until you develop your healthy habit. Don’t stop going out with your friends, but when you do opt for better food, one that you know does not contain a lot of sugar and unhealthy fats. Just make sure you set an environment in which you will keep up with your promise. When your will becomes stronger you will spontaneously start doing things you did before without even thinking about bringing back your bad habit.

The fourth step is to write down your progress and all the benefits you have had because of it in order to be grateful for it. Gratefulness is such a beautiful thing which inspires a lot of positive emotions in us and it makes us send out a positive vibe to the universe.

When you keep up your word you will start believing yourself and you will start believing in yourself. These two processes are a dichotomy and they can’t exist one without the other. The promises you give yourself are every bit as important as the promises you give to others. The most important meeting you will ever have is a meeting with yourself and the most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Make sure it’s a healthy one! Keep up with your promises, keep up the good work and be grateful – it will lead to positive change and a happy life.

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