Put on your own mask first

If you’ve ever flown on an aircraft, you’ve heard the following words;

“If this plane is about to plummet to the earth at terminal velocity where you will explode into small pieces upon impact, you’ll need to breath freely on the way down, therefore an oxygen mask will fall from the ceiling so you can enjoy what’s left of your flight. Oh, and in case you’re not thinking straight in this diabolical situation, please remember to put your own mask on first before you attempt to help anyone else put theirs on.”

Funny commentary aside, there’s some brilliant insight into why it’s important to put our own masks on first when you think about it.

We may be able to help others whilst holding our breath, but not for long. We’ll be much more useful if we get our own oxygen supply sorted first.

We know this right!

However, for many years I’ve noticed this strange phenomena in life, which leads me to wonder, if in the reality of this event, would the average person actually do this?

I wonder if a plane load of your friendship group was about to go down (There is a God! I hear some of you say) I reckon most of us would be looking around for who needs help with their mask without any thoughts around our own needs in this moment.

It all sounds quite noble doesn’t it. Others are more important right! Self sacrifice and all that…

But something smells funky about this…

I smell a Rat!

I’ve observed that lots of people seem to dedicate their time & energy in the efforts of rescuing everyone around them, without much apparent need for rescue themselves.

I’m not sure if this is denial, or it’s like a strange form of martyrdom. It’s probably both.

The Martyr says; “I’ll help you, because your needs are more important.”
The person in denial says; “I’ll help you because you need it more than me.”

Or it can sound like this…

“I’ll do what it takes to point you towards freedom, but I won’t go there myself.”
“I’ll fight your battles, but not my own.”
“I’ll recommend a counsellor for you, but I’ve never seen one.”

It’s kinda like a hospital, where all the patients are running around like doctors!

The pattern of the rescuer is usually the same. We run around rescuing everyone else, but who ever rescues us?

I call this ‘Rescuer’s Syndrome’

or maybe it’s a convenient oversight?

Because ultimately, at the end of the day I think it’s easier to help others than it is to face your own need for help isn’t it?

I know I can distract myself from my own need for rescue by focussing my attention on rescuing others. There’s enough problems out there to keep me busy for a lifetime. I won’t ever have to look at my own stuff!

As a leader myself, there’s a fear of admitting that I need help, because the people I lead need to know that at least the leader has it together right?

How do you follow someone who hasn’t got it all together?

It takes vulnerability and courage to admit that you need help, and it takes even more vulnerability and courage to get help.

I need help, and I’m no longer afraid to admit it, and go after it wherever I can.

And in the process I’m becoming so much more useful to others with my oxygen mask on.

One thought on “Put on your own mask first

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