A huge percentage of the American population has been on a commercial airline flight. One of the early instructions is always, “if you are traveling with a child or disabled person, place the air mask on yourself first, then assist the other person. This is not an example of “lifeboat ethics”, it is a statement which reminds us if we do not take care of ourselves we have nothing to offer someone else. Unless we can breathe if the airplane looses pressure, we cannot help our neighbor.
This applies to our everyday lives. If we do not remain healthy, who can we assist? If we do not claim our right to self fulfillment, we have nothing to give when the inner well runs dry. This is not a free pass to take, take, take, it is a free pass to let go of the idea we have to see to other people at our own expense. Sometimes that expense is monetary, sometimes it is a time commitment, or an emotional support, you see unless we save ourselves, others will suffer.
I am a great believer in a concept call SEVA, or giving, service. The more I give, the more I get. The more I give from the point of wanting to give rather than feeling compelled to give, or obligated to give; the more I find the pure joy of being there for others, the more I have to give, yet there comes a moment when I have to step back and do a self-inventory: what is my motivation? If I am giving to get someone else to do something, I will very soon hit the wall. If I am giving because I am coming from my heart, there is an unending supply of energy.
To save others, you must first save yourself. Care for your spiritual self, care for your physical self, care for that part of you which sees the oneness in all things. That is saving yourself.