Just like with the oxygen mask, lead yourself first

If you’ve ever travelled by air, you know the drill with the oxygen mask: should there be an issue with oxygen levels on the plane, masks will drop from above, and you are urged to secure your own mask before helping others.

In my world, this airplane drill = metaphor for life.

With the oxygen mask, we see a child and our instinctual programmed behavior takes over: must protect child. Hence the need for the instructions – because, left to our programmed response, we may not be as effective, and useful, as we could be. Putting our own mask on first better enables us to attend to our children and anyone else in need of help.

Such it is with life. When the unexpected, unwanted, and uncomfortable show up – or the great, exciting, shiny, and opportune – it’s so tempting to act, accept, run away from, interfere, deny, refuse, allow…[insert your patterned behavior here] in response. Our programmed response takes over, and the result is based on that reactivity, rather than by active, conscious choice.

Over the long-term, living solely from patterned responses and reactivity may or may not result in the life you most want to live. Without taking active, conscious choice, there’s a lot of space for regret, coulda-shoulda-woulda, and can-I-have-a-do-over-please? Over the long-term, it may even lead to resentment and unhappiness, or feeling unfulfilled.

Putting the oxygen mask on ourselves first?

It means pushing pause, and giving ourselves a chance to re-connect with what really matters, our own personal bigger picture, before taking action.

It means getting our own personal house in order before we can be of true service to, and empower, others.

It means getting clear on our own path, so that we can truly honour and respect the paths of others.

Mapping out a personal bigger picture – getting clear on your values, your aspirations, what truly matters to you – better enables you to get grounded, re-connect, and be in active choice when opportunities and challenges show up.

I’d love to hear from you: when do programmed responses and reactivity trip you up? How do you re-connect to what matters? Leave a comment below, share on the facebook page, or email me.

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2 comments

  • Cristin July 23, 2015   Reply →

    This is SO timely – I fall into this trap at work mostly and did today. I reacted to something and felt all the same resentments creep back in. Luckily it happened at the end of the day, so I could change my perspective (literally and figuratively). Simply going for a walk sometimes helps me reconnect or at least break out of my programmed response. This post is a good reminder!

    • navigatewebsite July 27, 2015   Reply →

      Such a great point – physically getting up and removing yourself from the situation to regroup. It’s amazing how much that can help!

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