A Lesson from 35,000 Feet: Fear, Faith & the Wonder of You
Secure Your Own Mask First
Have you ever noticed while flying commercially, that interesting directive the stewardess gives during their flight safety review of the aircraft?
You know the part about…in the unlikely event of a loss of cabin pressure, and how to activate the flow of oxygen in the mask provided for you? She or he always says, “If you are traveling with small children or others who need your assistance, please secure your own mask first, and then help others.” Secure your own mask first.
It Matters Because You Matter
How often do we get caught up in thinking about and caring for others, and forget to secure our own mask first? I was brought up to think of self-care as self-indulgence, and as something that was frowned upon. If you thought much about your health you were considered a hypochondriac. If a medical issue came up, instead of looking at diet, exercise and lifestyle choices, we were taught to go to the doctor, who readily dispensed pills or recommended invasive procedures.
It wasn’t until graduate school that I began to seriously think in terms of cause and effect, lifestyle choices, preventative measures and how to mitigate factors to which one is hereditarily predisposed. Today, this means I exercise regularly and am passionate about getting optimal nutrition daily; something that allows our bodies to function as the miracles they are.
Working with the dying, I also came to recognize and deeply appreciate the difference between being cured and being healed. I believe that healing is always possible, even when a cure is not.
I also believe that everyone is here for a reason, and that no one else has your unique qualities or your exact mission. Everyone has challenges and choices, as well as obstacles and advantages, in widely varying degrees. What we do with these factors, influences and conditions is what most matters. It matters because you matter.
The Wonder of You
Andy Andrews expresses it this way in his book, The Final Summit. “Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world.”
We have so much potential and so much power; and this, along with your uniqueness, is the wonder of you. Yet the status quo conspires to keep us restrained, entertained, preoccupied, over-stimulated, or anesthetized.
Maybe you don’t want to change the world; maybe you just don’t want the world to change you. Either way, if you don’t put on your own mask first, you aren’t taking care of yourself and you diminish your ability to respond to others you care about, too.
A key challenge is to determine what it is you truly do want. Very few of us have been given permission, so subsequently we now don’t know how to give ourselves permission, to recognize and honor our uniqueness and what we really want out of life; to dream expansively; to stretch ourselves and to cultivate a vast and glorious vision of what we would like our lives to be.
It is often easier, much easier, for people to express what they don’t want. We generally know what we fear. We are keenly aware of what keeps us up at night; but how about what makes us so excited that we can hardly contain our enthusiasm?
How often do we let ourselves get that exuberant, before we start pulling back, reining in our excitement, and launch into that negative self-talk that says, “That’s not for me; I can’t do it; I am not smart enough, or maybe we think, I’m smarter than that, I’m better than that; or I don’t have enough time, or the money, or just fill-in-the-blank.
What fascinates me is that our negative self-talk can take the form of being self-deprecating or self-aggrandizing, and both are equally detrimental to our well-being. Thinking too little or too much of ourselves comes from our wounds, not from the reality of our wonder.
Rather than thinking in terms of something being right or wrong, I like to ask, “Does it diminish or does it build up? Does it do harm or good? Our results, our fruits, are the way we determine this.
What do you do, or what would you do, if you received an obscene phone call? Would you listen and consider all the vile things being said, or would you hang up? Our negative self-talk, the limiting things we say to ourselves and believe about ourselves, is the same as an obscene phone caller. Don’t listen; hang up on that voice. Delete those messages and put new, positive ones in their place.
The real power of affirmations is that they can override the negative and reinforce the positive. It takes time and the intentional directing and re-directing of our will to do this consistently; but when we do, the results can be stunning.
So How Do We Master Fear?
How do we alter the way we see and feel about things? How do move from negativity to positivity, and master fear?
Start by giving yourself permission to secure your own mask first. Learn that lesson from 35,000 feet. Take care of yourself and never say or do anything that is harmful, disrespectful or detrimental to your health, yourself or the way you see and think of yourself.
When you realize some negative thoughts are coming forth, redirect them by thinking about things for which you are grateful. With practice, it will become easier, more natural and be needed less frequently. Is it always easy? Hell no. Is it always worth it? Heavens yes!
As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale has written, “Fear is the most powerful of all thoughts with one exception, and that one exception is faith. Faith can always overcome fear. Faith is the one power against which fear cannot stand. Day by day, as you fill your mind with faith, there will ultimately be no room left for fear. This is the one great fact that no one should forget. Master faith and you will automatically master fear.”
Put another way, Joel Osteen says, “Fear and faith have something in common. They both ask us to believe in something we cannot see.” If we are going to believe in something we cannot see, why not make it something positive and uplifting? The choice is yours, as are the fruits.
If this book doesn't enrich the way you look at everything, please let me know!
This little volume is packed with practical information, inspiration and timeless wisdom.
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