If you have flown on an airplane even once in the last decade, you know that if the plane is going down in a fiery inferno, you are required “by federal aviation regulation” to place the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on another.
Does that seem counterintuitive? If your plane were in a tailspin, would your natural response be to mask yourself or would it be to mask your two-year-old child? Would you even reach for the mask at all? Or would you white knuckle it shrieking along with the rest of the passengers?
I think you might first freak out. Then, I hope, a tiny voice inside your head would remember the child beside you along with the crew member’s instructions to mask yourself first. Then, maybe, just mayyyyybe, if your monkey mind lets you find a rational space during the chaos, you’d reach up and grab that mask, put it on and then take care of the child.
I hope none of us ever have to find out. Please hold this thought.
Recently, I was invited to speak at a Fair Trade dinner featuring local and/or fair trade foods, an info session on the concept of Fair Trade and a download on small steps we can take to make other-conscious choices. I was there to bring the global concept to a granular level. This is where the wisdom of federal aviation regulation comes in.
See, I’ve found that often, it can be much easier to find empathy for another than it can be to find empathy for oneself. The good news is … I’ve also found that when we’re in an empathetic frame of mind, we have an easier time turning inward and that turning inward is not only valuable but essential if we hope to help others.
Does this seem like a selfish, typically Western way to corrupt the otherwise noble idea of Fair Trade? I don’t think so.
On that rapidly descending airplane, if I can’t breathe, I can’t help the child beside me. In daily life, no matter where our sympathy or empathy lies, if we’re not caring for ourselves, we can’t properly care for anyone else. So, at the Fair Trade dinner, I remembered this concept and approached the room when their empathy was up and their guards were down.
In this space created by concern for others, we talked about ourselves ~ things that deplete us, things that fill us up, mega life goals. By thinking quietly to ourselves and encouraging the brave to share their thoughts, we began the process of making intentional positive change in our own lives. For many of us, the ideas for change included others. For all of us, the change in ourselves can positively influence and affect others.
In any case, by putting the oxygen masks on ourselves first, I believe that folks left the dinner feeling both more able and more likely to take action for the benefit of others.
If you’re in need of some goals and direction, consider attending one of my Goal Setting workshops, June in SF and July in the East Bay, or reach out for a free introductory Coaching Session. Email RachelBDorsey@gmail.com for more information.