The Oxygen Mask Scenario

A wise friend (hi Victoria!) reminded me a few weeks ago about the oxygen mask scenario. You know, the one where you are sitting on the plane, and the lovely flight attendant demonstrates how to put on the oxygen mask in case the whole thing goes down?And what is the last part they always remind passengers to do? Put the mask on yourself before helping anyone else.

This task seems easy enough when imagining a hypothetical scenario of a plane going down… but what about in the day to day of just doing life? Personally, I’ve caught myself lately (okay fine… basically my entire life) giving everyone else around me their oxygen masks and hoping I don’t suffocate in the process.

Listen. I’m a 2. According to the Enneagram Institute this means:

“Twos are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted. They are friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing, but can also be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing. They are well-meaning and driven to be close to others, but can slip into doing things for others in order to be needed. They typically have problems with possessiveness and with acknowledging their own needs. At their Best: unselfish and altruistic, they have unconditional love for others.

  • Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved
  • Basic Desire: To feel loved

Key Motivations: Want to be loved, to express their feelings for others, to be needed and appreciated, to get others to respond to them, to vindicate their claims about themselves.”

Basically — I LOVE to help others. Truly. It’s my favorite thing. It brings me so much joy and purpose. But I am really, really bad at making sure that I also help myself. I want to give you the oxygen mask first, every. single. time. Guess what happens if I do that? Eventually, I’ll suffocate.

The holidays are an especially trying time for many of us. We over extend ourselves to be at every Christmas party, bake cookies for every neighbor, attend all the classroom celebrations, and be happy every single second of every single day because #themagicofChristmas. We shove down feelings of sadness over lost babies and loved ones, singleness, not loving our jobs, missing home, etc. We brush under the carpet feelings of anxiety over family, money, lack of sleep, illness, and more. But what if this year… we didn’t?

What if this year, we were bold enough to put the oxygen masks on ourselves first? To step back and reflect upon how we can help others, without hurting ourselves. I really do believe that we do not have to feel tired, overwhelmed, and run down in order to also feel helpful. This seems to be the norm for many of us, and we brush it off by saying, “Oh, don’t worry! It’s just a season!” Well GUESS WHAT? THAT SEASON SUCKS!

This season, I am going to sit back and reflect on what I need to do for myself in order to love others well. I want to figure out healthy ways to love and help others, while still remembering to put the oxygen mask on myself.

How are your oxygen levels?