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Put Your Needs First to Help Others

by Brenda Mahler 9 months ago in dog · updated 8 months ago
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Put Your Needs First to Help Others

It sounds selfish but it’s important to take care of yourself. A person can only support others if they take care of their own needs. That’s why airlines instruct passengers to place the oxygen masks on themselves prior to assisting small children. Parents tend to respond quickly to their kids’ needs at the risk of ignoring their own mental and physical health. However, if this impacts their ability to respond positively and quickly when needed, the long-term outcome will be the opposite of what is desired.

Animals possess natural instincts to protect themselves from harm. Human parents have similar instincts; however, often do not take the time to perform the necessary rituals to protect themselves so they can be available for their children. Dogs seem to have perfected three behaviors that with practice can help humans increase the safety and security of their families.

Be the queen or king, of your kingdom

Image from author's photos.

Have you ever watched a dog when they are comfortable? They are relaxed and in control. Dagney acts as if she is the queen, and we are her servants. Everything revolves around her. When she is hungry, she lays beside her food dish and looks up at us with questioning eyes. If she wants to go outside, she scratches. To satisfy her playful moods, she simply picks up a toy and deposits it at my feet. And in the morning, when I am drinking my coffe and she wants me to hold her bone, she throws it in my coffee cup. Really! It happened twice. There is no argument or debate. That would be a waste of time and energy. I simply fill her bowl, open the door, make time to play, or hold her bone.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” ―Maya Angelou

I love doing for others. Giving provides a positive spirit. Blessing others brings me blessings.

However, adults need to be loved, appreciated and blessed also. You go to work, pay the rent, buy the groceries. Expect to benefit from this work and reap the rewards of your accomplishments. Too often we hurry through life and don’t make time to appreciate what we have slaved to achieve. Adopt the mindset of a dog and allow others to bless you, at least sometimes.

It is easy to be a martyr without even knowing it. In an attempt to make others happy, parents forget to fulfill their own needs. I know I have in the past. But when I think about it, I experience joy when I respond to Dagney’s needs and she rewards me with loves and licks. Sometimes, all that is required is to ask and express your desires. Give people in your life the chance to treat you like royalty.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” ―H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Yes, it is important to model giving but as parents we should also provide opportunities for our children to give. Everyone benefits in the end.

Sniff out the situation

Image from author's photos.

When observing Dagney, I notice she is curious but cautious. We travel a lot in our motorhome, so she is excited when allowed off leash to frolic because opportunities are limited. She will approach a new environment eager to explore but wary enough to investigate dark holes, crevices, and unidentified movement. I am always amazed how she can playfully run towards a shiny object yet have the control to stop immediately when she senses danger.

Dagney displays many of the same characteristics of children but with one important difference. She is aware of her environment. Recently, we spent the night at a Harvest Host accommodation, an alpaca farm. In the morning, when she bounced out the door, she was greeted by chickens, a horse, alpacas, goats and by the looks of the holes dug in the uneven ground a lot of burrowing critters. Dagney was eager to explore the new surroundings. With her nose up in the air she took time to take in the aromas. As she walked, she lowered her nose and investigated each mound of dirt and hole that probably led to a something’s home. Not until she assured herself the area was safe did she proceed.

Humans should perform similar cautious procedures. Check out the surroundings. Listen and absorb the area. Our senses provide an amazing amount of information if we pay attention and remain aware. As a teacher we call this characteristic with-it-ness, being aware of the area and responding in a manner that is guarded to what happens, anticipates what might happen, and enjoys what is happening. Individuals with inherent with-it-ness enter new environments ready for whatever might present itself. Like a dog, they pay attention to their sense and respond appropriately.

Take time to sniff out a situation before racing in unprepared.


Studies show dogs spend fifty percent of their days awake. Of that, 30 percent of the time they are relaxed and 20 percent they are active. Dogs are happy. Maybe we should take a lesson from them and carve time to rest.

Image from author's photos.

There have been times, I have been so tired, I tripped over my own feet, literally. I have told myself that I must get this done and deadlines must be met. However, I by not taking time to rest my mind and body, more mistakes have occurred and in fact, my productivity decreased. Take a lesson from a dog and know it is OK to rest. And remember, the behaviors you model now will demonstrate to others, especially children, what is important. It will teach the importance of valuing yourself and as a result, provide the energy to support others.

Take it from a dog. Sometimes, life is better for everyone, if we put ourselves first.


Dagney has her own blog page where she shares her words of wisdom, humorous antics, and life events.

Read Dagney's stories.


About the author

Brenda Mahler

Stories about life that inspire emotions - mostly humor.

Lessons about writing based on my textbook, Strategies for Teaching Writing.

Poetry and essays about the of art of being human.

I write therefore, I am.

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