When you fly on an airplane, there are explicit instructions about how to use the oxygen mask in the event of change in cabin pressure: “place the oxygen mask on yourself and then place the mask on the person sitting next to you,” presumably a child or someone who requires your assistance. Only very recently did I fully comprehend and appreciate this concept. In order to help others to the best of our ability, we must first take care of ourselves.

 

Looking after oneself, one looks after others.

Looking after others, one looks after oneself.
– The Buddha
As mentioned in the introductory post, Nanci Besser has explained why she felt nothing in her life had changed the two times she participated in 32 Favors. She was putting the oxygen mask on others and sacrificing herself in the process. Noble, but martyrdom is a thing of the past. And it should be. In order to truly be of service, you first need to pay rent, eat, and have enough security to empower yourself. This provides a level happiness, ease, and faith which enables you to be your best self and magnifies your power to help others.

Easier said, than done.

Giving back to my community is ingrained in my DNA and enforced by my family. In the Jewish religion, we believe in mitzvot and tikkun o’lam. Mitzvot can be defined simply as “good deeds;” giving of yourself to others expecting nothing in return. Tikkun O’Lam literally translates to “repair the world.” By performing good deeds we will create a model society among the Jewish people, which will in turn influence the rest of the world. Jews have put the expectations on ourselves to be held responsible not only for creating a model society among ourselves, but also for the welfare of the society at large by means of social justice, religion, and even politics. NO PRESSURE. Bottom line: the more good deeds (mitzvot) we perform, the faster we will heal the world (tikkun o’lam). This is our culture, my religion, and this is what I believe to be true.

I was raised by an unconditionally loving, Jewish, supportive, warm, caring, compassionate, intelligent, and generous family. They all inspire me daily, and have supported me emotionally, physically, and fiscally. They are incredibly wonderful and supportive and I am so incredibly lucky to have them in my life. Majority of the time, they put others needs before their own. As I’ve observed, being selfless in my family, and in many families, is an unwritten expectation and considered being a ‘good’ member of the family and of society in general, rewarded through numerous mentions of gratitude for what the selfless person has done for the other(s). This has manifested in my life in several different ways, mostly having difficulties receiving gifts that I didn’t think I was worthy of, receiving mixed messages from my family members not accepting gifts or returning them, not sending thank you notes – mostly out of rebelling against the status quo more than anything else, and massive amounts of unnecessary guilt, paralysis due to perfectionism, and (formerly, I’m thrilled to say) low self-worth.

 

We all make choices and living in California is absolutely my choice, regardless of the consequences. After realizing that, lovingly and to protect me, majority of my choices in my life had been determined by my family and friends, I knew something had to change. And fast. I never made any choices for myself. Period. California was really the first time I was able to assert and execute a decision made solely for me, by me; sadly, I knew it would hurt the people I love most in the world. What may have, and probably still is, perceived as “selfish,” was the best decision I ever made. This is self-care of the highest level and has played an integral role in learning who I am as an individual and what I want my life to be.

I am proud and grateful for the life I’ve created for myself out west, and it is only when I started making my own choices, trusting my intuition that I had stifled for 30 years, and dictating my life, that I was able to discover that the biggest gift anyone can give to themselves, and others, is compassion.

After our interview, I asked Nanci, the pioneer of 32Favors, if she would be so kind to give me my first official favor. As my good friend and teacher, she knew the exact favor she wanted. It was for me: “Show yourself a day of self-compassion.” something she had never given to herself and is difficult for both of us. What it came down to was forgiveness of yourself, of your past, of others. As a tribute to Nanci, a reminder to myself, and in order to successfully complete 32 Favors this year, I’m adding in self-care as a component to 32 Favors.
  1. 32 Favors – doing something for someone who has asked you to do something for them for something bigger than themselves. The person doing the favor, expects nothing in return and there is no obligation for the person receiving the favor to pay-it-forward  (i.e. to support a cause or do something on behalf of someone else).
  2. 32 Good Deeds (mitzvot) – doing something for someone else who has no knowledge of you doing it. Again, the person doing the good deed expects nothing in return.
  3. 32 Things For Me – this is self-compassion 101. Making the space to give to yourself, without guilt, while serving the greater good.
Sadly, in our society and in many cultures worldwide, self-care is misconstrued for selfishness. In the film and the movement, ‘Girl Rising,’ a little girl in Afghanistan makes the difficult choice to go to school than enter into an arranged marriage. She knows this will disappoint her family tremendously, she may never be forgiven and potentially disowned, and that the money for her dowery would help them exponentially. Yet, she is making the courageous choice to do what she believes and desires because in the end, her self-worth and contribution to her family will be equally beneficial, if not more, than had she married and had a child with a man she never knew. This is only one example of how our choices carry the power to help ourselves and others.
It is the hope that by treating myself with the same compassion as I do for others, will allow me to give myself permission to do the things that I never thought I could do or was waiting for validation to do, unapologetically and guilt-free.
How do you show self-compassion? Please share in comments! Or tweet using #32Favors
Thanks for reading and for your ongoing support 😃