Balancing empathy and practicality can be a challenge. As fellow humans, we feel an innate need to help those around us. However, as individuals it’s important to keep an eye towards the things that serve us well, and the things that don’t. In recent times my empathic senses have been jacked up to eleven, so I’ve experienced a lot of issues balancing my own needs versus those of the people around me. A friend of mine recently reminded me of a good motto his family adheres to – “do no harm, take no shit”. This attitude, albeit a bit direct, is a great way to frame a solution for that problem.
If you’ve ever flown a commercial airline, you’ve probably heard (or ignored) attendants make a small disclaimer when showing passengers how to use their air masks in the event of cabin depressurization – “be sure to secure your own mask before helping the people next to you”. It’s a more practical framing of the same general idea – you have to make sure you’re standing on firm ground before you can truly help those in your sphere of influence.