I Need To Put My Mask on First Before Helping Others

November 2, 2023 Cheryl Wozny

The analogy of putting on your mask first before helping others goes beyond airplane safety, especially for victims of verbal abuse. The concept that you can't help others if you cannot function yourself is critical. Another relatable comparison includes trying to pour from an empty cup. As I heal from verbal abuse, I've recognized how important taking care of myself is so I can help others. 

I Was Useless to Others When I Didn't Take Care of Myself 

As a mother, I constantly think of my children's best interests. I've sacrificed so much through the years to ensure they have everything they need. I always thought that is how a mother should behave and act. I was taught that if I chose to do something for myself, I was being selfish. 

During one of my verbally abusive relationships, my self-esteem was low. I felt I didn't deserve to be considered or entitled to happiness. I carried on, living only for my children and neglecting my needs. Unfortunately, this cycle of behavior led to my emotional burnout

Existing only for others left me drained physically and mentally. I had no strength to stand up for myself or provide the care I desperately needed to function correctly. Although, at the time, I thought I was doing the best thing I could for my kids, I was deceiving myself and limiting what I could do for them. 

Therapy Helped Me Take Care of My Needs So I Could Assist Others

However, the dynamic changed once I broke free from verbal abuse and realized I needed therapy. It took a long time for me to recognize the benefits of taking care of myself. I struggled with the guilt of being selfish when I put my needs first. But, slowly, I began to see how much better I was for my children when I was in a better emotional state. 

Some ways I take care of myself today are: 

  • Exercising regularly
  • Having coffee or a meal alone with friends
  • Doing errands by myself 
  • Spending time outdoors walking with my dogs

It soon became apparent that I didn't have to spend hours away from my kids to recharge my batteries. These small moments alone give me the clarity to come back and be more present when I am with my children.

Caring for yourself isn't always about bubble baths and girls' weekends away. You can find simple ways to put your mask on to be ready and available for others when they need you. It's critical that you do. Otherwise, you won't be helpful to you or your loved ones. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2023, November 2). I Need To Put My Mask on First Before Helping Others, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 28 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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