“Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” This phrase is overused both in airplanes safety videos and in self-help books. It’s a simple yet important reminder that we are of no use to others if we’re unable to help ourselves. Unfortunately, despite understanding and agreeing with this philosophy, 2017 was the year that many of my closest family members (myself included) almost drown trying to save others.
Toes all pointed away from me.
Were they sprinting?
Invisible lines connected the different sizes
(stamped into the wet, coarse, cold sand),
which lost definition and proximity
with distance away from the place
where the waves’ hand gently stroked the sand
as the tide began to rise.
The situation? Rather than the person working with you to efficiently and effectively achieve the goal at hand, they resist (or all-out fight) you along the way, which requires you to expend 10 to 1000 times the effort. In short, instead of sprinting side by side to the finish line, you’re dragging them there.
Let’s face it, our brains are wired to label and stereotype because it’s a simple shortcut compared to approaching people without projections of who they are and what their interests are. We know this intellectually, and yet I find myself frequently surprised when I find examples that remind me to not assume.
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I was almost 10 years old before I learned that Santa Claus wasn't real. Have you ever noticed that there are certain moments in life where your entire world view gets flipped upside down? Depending upon the intensity level of these situations and the meaning we attach to them, they can have a major impact on our mental and emotional states, which can be quite fragile during our childhood and adolescent years. In severe cases, it is not uncommon for our unconscious mind to do one of two things: either block the memory outright OR remember it vividly and replay it over and over again.
“You suck.” I bet everyone has been on the receiving end of this insult at least a half dozen times in their lifetime. I would also bet that a person’s reactions to those words varied wildly based on when it occurred, the context around why it was said, and (most importantly) who said it. After all, we might come to expect hearing something like that from someone experiencing road rage or from a drunk fan from a rival sports team. In those situations, we can find it easy to shrug this off and move on with our lives.