“Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”
It’s such a counter-intuitive statement, especially when I look over to my daughter seated next to me on the plane. As if I could bear to see her gasp even one time as I put my interests ahead of hers! And yet I know that if I reached first to her mask, in my fear and panic, my own breathing would increase as I scrambled to help her and keep her calm. And, of course, if I fall unconscious, I cannot help her at all.
If your job involves serving others (whether in a nonprofit or for-profit setting), people depend on you. At times you may feel like you are being called to give more of yourself – in time or in talent – than you believe you are capable of giving. Occasionally you may feel your heart rate increase as a sense of fear or panic (or even anger) sneak in.
When some serious health issues had me down for the count recently, I realized that I had been trying for quite a while to help others with their oxygen masks while I myself was gasping for air. Something had to change. I had to change. I committed to what I now call “My New 11,” eleven commitments that I made to live more consciously. I laid them out and printed them on a canvas that hangs on my wall above my desk.