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Putting on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

A concept that is dear to my heart is the idea of what I call ‘Drawn’ and Driven’.

When we feel drawn to do something it is usually good for us in some way, and we find that our emotional tank and energy reserves begin to fill up.


When we feel driven to do something, it feels much more like a compulsion, we feel we have no choice and we are usually somehow depleted or less energised afterwards.


What’s interesting, is that exactly the same activity can be either drawn or driven depending on how we are feeling within ourselves and the context within which we find ourselves. When we tune into what will be helpful in the moment, we are drawn.


Some examples


Drawn –

· ‘hmm… I think I might go for a run, cycle, walk etc this morning’

· ‘Maybe I will do some reading with the kids this morning, then put on a film, let’s see how things go’

· ‘I fancy a bar of chocolate this morning, we’ve eaten healthily most of the week’

· ‘He needs a bit of time and space on his own, and so do I, let’s take some space’

· ‘Feel like going for a walk later? I think I will’


Driven –

We might think or say –

· ‘I ought to go for a run, cycle, walk etc right now’

· ‘I should be teaching the kids properly now they are not in school’

· ‘I have to get thinner in the next few weeks’

· ‘I must keep the kids off the screens’

· ‘I must keep fit, thin, healthy, happy and on top of everything’




Drawn fills your tank - Driven depletes it.

In the current climate it would be ridiculous to think we can suddenly become Zen-like overnight. Many people are feeling very driven right now; simply trying to put food on the table, pay the mortgage and maintain some sense of normality. For these people drawn may feel like a luxury they simply don’t have and it’s hugely frustrating listening to counsellors pontificating about life balance and abstract concepts!


Whatever your situation, I would encourage you to allow yourselves a little drawn behaviour, even for a moment. As things begin to settle… and they will … remember to fill your own emotional tank, give yourself permission


After all, it’s why flight attendants always remind us to:

‘Put on your own oxygen mask first’

As we care for ourselves, we can then care for others.

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