Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First

“The perfect man of old looked after himself first before looking to help others.”
– Chuang-Tzu

If the inside of an airplane experiences the loss of cabin pressure, you are instructed to put on your own oxygen mask first before putting it on your children. What a great example about the importance of taking care of yourself first before taking care of others.

One such way of taking care of yourself is by making sure you have defined and implemented healthy boundaries for yourself. A lack of boundaries can often cause stress, anger, and resentment, as well as negatively impacting your business.

Boundaries – What are you putting up with that you shouldn’t be?

Is there anything you are currently putting up with that you shouldn’t be putting up with? If yes, this is usually an indication a boundary is missing. Perhaps it’s allowing something to happen or giving into something when you really don’t want to. Maybe it’s somebody pushing you around. It might even be that you often say ‘Yes’ at times when you really mean to say ‘No.’

Just like a physical fence that creates a boundary to protect your property, your personal boundaries are designed to protect you. We establish them by clearly communicating to others what we want, what we expect, and what we will not put up with.

You Can No Longer Call me On My Day Off!

I used to work long hours, and for a while Sunday was my only day off for spending personal time with my family. However, that didn’t stop my employees from calling me at home to ask questions; sometimes multiple times throughout the day. When I finally realized how much these calls were eating into personal time, I decided to install a boundary and take care of myself first.

I remember the look of shock and fear on my employees faces when I told them they could no longer call me on my day off. I didn’t care what was going on or if there was an emergency. I was no longer going to be interrupted during my personal time!

Installing this boundary turned out to be one of the greatest things I ever did with the business. By not being accessible my employees were empowered to make their own decisions, which led to the creation of new ideas, and I was able to enjoy my personal time free from distractions.

Practice Saying ‘NO’

I think the word ‘NO’ is one of the most simple and powerful boundaries we can use. However, I used to struggle saying ‘NO’ to people, and I know I am not alone. Saying ‘Yes’ when we really mean ‘NO’ might make others happy, but it is not taking care of yourself.

If you struggle with saying ‘NO’ to people, practice saying ‘NO’ every time you are asked to commit to something over the next entire week. I did this several years ago and at first it was really difficult to do because I felt guilty every time I said ‘NO.’ However, practicing made it become easier, and now it is extremely rare if I don’t communicate what I really mean.

You Don’t Have To Put Up With It

Sometimes we put up with stuff we shouldn’t for so long it actually feels normal. We become so accustomed to it we don’t even think about making a change or putting a stop to it.

Are there any areas in your business or personal life where you aren’t taking care of yourself first? Is there anything you are putting up with that you shouldn’t be? Perhaps this is a good time to install your imaginary fence around the important areas in your life. It might keep out some of the riff raff or prevent you from straying into an area you might later regret.


Daryl Murrow



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