Just as a person mired in quicksand cannot help another until he has himself reached firm ground (to cite another analogy from the Pali texts), our ability to help others depends chiefly on keeping our own balance. As the flight attendants tell us each time we board a plane, one must don one’s own oxygen mask before helping others do so.
Looking after oneself, one looks after others.
Looking after others, one looks after oneself.
How does one look after others by looking after oneself?
By practicing mindfulness, developing it, and making it grow.
How does one look after oneself by looking after others?
By patience, non-harming, lovingkindness, and caring.
The Buddha (Samyutta Nikaya 47.19)