My whole life up until my 30's (and this is something I still struggle with) I have put other people's needs and happiness before my own. I mean in an unhealthy way, like my needs not existing kind of a way. Until one day I was listening to something, probably Brene Brown because she has helped me in so many ways, but this wise person said "your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have."
My collective selves looked at each other and thought "well fuck, we have such a long fucking way to go and all sorts of fucked up thinking to undo." My collective selves say fuck a lot. Really truly though, it wasn't until someone gave me permission to put my needs first (when appropriate) that I had even realized how poorly my needs were met. As an adult woman, I am the only person who can know and then meet my needs. My husband is not psychic and unless I tell him my needs and ask for him to meet the ones involving him (affection, sex, help with stupid car stuff) he cannot magically know. Also I am realizing how much work needs to be done on asking in caring ways when I am calm, not when I am angry that my needs aren't being met.
So what does put on your own oxygen mask first even mean and what does it have to do with meeting needs. Well if you aren't okay and healthy, how can you help anyone? Really if you are tired, hungry, upset, can you be fully present with you kids/ partner/ friends/family? So meeting basic needs first will help us all be better functioning humans. When was the last time you went without eating, taking a pee break, sleeping a full night, because you were busy doing for others? For me it has been a while because that is where I started my journey of putting on my own oxygen mask first, just fucking basic human needs that I would ignore to do something for someone else who could have waited 10 minutes or what ever so that my needs could be met. Doing even this seemingly small step has made me a more patient human, not so pissed off/ resentful that I am hungry and taking care of something else that could wait.
What do I mean by when appropriate? Well, there are going to be times when we are tired but we have to get our kids in bed first. Or, when we are sad but life still has to go on and it is not an option to nope out for a nap or a good cry. At those times we will do our best to be patient with ourselves and cope through until we can meet our needs. Times like this are during work at an important meeting, or when children who cannot yet do for themselves need you. These times are not when an able bodied person who is capable of doing for themselves wants you to take care of something when you need to be taking care of yourself.
Lets all work on deepening our relationships with ourselves by spending some time thinking about what we need and making it our top priority to meet our needs, ask for help in meeting our needs, and putting boundaries in place with the people in our lives so that we can have the time and space to meet our needs.