In my last blog, Life Jackets, I used the image of a life jacket as protection against bad decisions caused by panic over undesirable events. I’m expanding on that concept here to encourage you to also put your life jacket on before you help someone else who may be panicking.
First responders who save drowning victims know well that the panic that consumes those in trouble will drive them to keep their heads above water, no matter what – including climbing onto the shoulders of those trying to help them. Many unsuspecting rescuers have been shoved underwater by panicky victims and were not able to save themselves. Giving or loaning money and then being unable to pay your own bills is also perishing while trying to save someone else. To keep yourself safe, make sure you can spare any money you give or loan others, even if it is not repaid.
A desperate drowning person can submerge even a rescuer wearing a life jacket, so staying at least an arm’s distance from the victim is essential. Lifeguards are trained to stay in the boat or on the shore and throw a floatation device to the victim. They jump in the water only when all other rescue attempts have failed, and then they proceed cautiously and strategically. Keeping your emotions out of your friend’s dilemma and offering logical, well-thought-out help (giving only a few dollars or writing a contract and repayment plan for a loan) can prevent your own financial disaster.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to save someone who is drowning or help a friend with a financial need, protect yourself against disaster that could be caused by the person you’re trying to help. Put on your life jacket, and keep yourself safe.