Ever had a time when you find yourself wrestling with a decision? And one that demands  you  choose between doing something for yourself versus considering someone else’s needs first? A truly ethical dilemma at times.

Some people are just better at making the choice, and others (like me) find themselves on a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts.  Everything from feeling selfish, to guilt, to questioning priorities.

What really gets me through these times is that I lean on the Oxygen Mask Principle.  Do you know it?


It stems from time gaining frequent flyer miles in air travel. During take-off a very officious air steward has the privilege to forewarn passengers on what to do in case of emergencies (such as hurricanes, volcanic dust storms,  a deft flock of birds caught in the engines or just running out of gas – to name but a few). And politely informs passengers that in the case of loss of cabin pressure here’s the method to put on the oxygen mask.

Now what is particularly significant is the instruction to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.  As it wouldn’t be extremely kosher for you to pass out before you finished helping all the Sunny Pines Grannies on their way to their 60th school reunion.

What strikes me is that this applies to so many situations in our daily lives.  As a parent, you can’t be the best self for your children if you neglect your own needs and well-being (so go to that yoga class).  As a business owner in tough financial times, you can’t continue to provide employment to others if you’re standing on the curb whilst they repossess your house.  As an employee, you can’t be truly productive or innovative if you work 16 hour days.  As a leader you can’t continue to inspire and up skill others if you don’t invest in your own personal development.  You get my drift…

So say with me : “ Abracadabra.  Posh posh.  Away with YOU guilt.  I can’t charge another’s battery if mine is flat.”

And remember, when the time arises, put YOUR oxygen mask on first.

Tanya Long 2017/09/13Oxygen-mask3