The Oxygen Mask Of Trust

The Oxygen Mask Of Trust

In Recovery, Relapse Prevention by Tree House Recovery

If you’ve ever paid attention to the safety and security briefing at the beginning of an airplane ride, you’ve heard one of the most famous metaphors in recovery. In the case of an emergency where cabin pressure changes, thus changing the oxygen levels, oxygen masks will drop from overhead, waiting for you to put on. A critical line of instruction is heavily emphasized: before putting on anyone else’s mask, you have to put yours on first. Its repeated. Put your mask on first before assisting anyone else. Though they don’t take time to explain why, the logic isn’t unclear. If you can’t help yourself, you can’t help other people. If you can’t give breath to yourself, you can’t give breath to other people. The threat is very real in the airplane scenario. If someone else is relying on you to supply them oxygen, but you haven’t put your mask on, and pass out before giving them the mask, then they pass out- you both can die. It’s a stark reality, but a necessary one.

Outside of the airplane, the stakes are a little less immediate, but no less threatening for men in recovery. You will hear often sentiments mirroring the oxygen mask metaphor for all kinds of scenarios in life, like “you can’t transmit what you haven’t got.” You’ll rarely hear this metaphor used in regards to trust. Before you can build trust with others by trusting them and asking them to trust you, you have to learn to trust yourself.

Addiction takes trust away. Your family members, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, might lose their trust in you after many lies, letdowns, deceptions, and manipulations, which addiction can inspire. By acting in less than trustworthy ways, you start to see yourself as a less than trustworthy person. As a result, you likely trust in yourself less than others do.

Too often in sobriety, we get the process of building trust out of order. We think we have to get others to trust us first in order for us to feel trustworthy again. As the airplane metaphor suggests, we have to trust in ourselves first before we can be trustworthy for anyone else.

While there are many ways for us to build trust with ourselves and with others there is one which is undeniable: staying sober. The simple, yet remarkably profound act of staying sober one day at a time is a natural and effective way to build trust with yourself. Building trust with yourself in your sobriety will be notice by others who will start to trust that you can take your life in your hands again.  

At Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon, we’re helping men find freedom from addiction by creating sustainable change for a sustainable recovery. For information on our men’s treatment programs, call us today: (855) 969-5181