unnamedThis is the first in what I hope is going to be a long series of Monday morning messages exploring with you all why we do the work that we do.

I was speaking with a colleague about a month or so back about some personal things that I’ve been moving through and working with my own life. We were discussing how pain and even depression can be extremely grounding and simplifying if we don’t try to resist it too much but acknowledge and accept how we are feeling and connect with others to process. It’s also a time for self-evaluation and acknowledgment of both the areas where we can improve and also of our basic goodness and inherent sanity.

As helping professionals it is essential that we walk the talk. That we do the work and create a normative culture where our clients know that we are also human, also working to be our best selves. This can better allow them to open up to their own pain and to the process of becoming more human, more gentle and more courageous. If we are not walking through our own recovery, wellness or spititual program, if we are not allowing the world and our experiences to break us open and to help us grow, we do find ourselves in that situation, as my friend pointed out, where “the cobbler’s daughter has no shoes.” When we stop doing our own work, we are no longer helpful. For others or to ourselves.

It’s our job as helping professionals to help other helping professionals as well. We need to be able to discuss this part of our work, our self-care and our focus on being great humans, great coworkers, and inspiring helping professionals. We need to make sure our own oxygen masks are on securely before helping others. As Ram Dass said, “The best we can hope for, if we do the courageous work of waking up, is to BE THE SPACE in which those who are drowning can come up for air.”

How well is your oxygen mask fitting today?