I know what it’s like to give lots of myself to other people. Do you know that feeling too?
We all have many roles in our lives, don’t we? And nine times out of ten, we all seem to come right smack, bang bottom of the list. My family often laugh (and agree) with me when I point out that my needs are inferior to those of every human and creature that inhabits our home.
But in all seriousness, this isn’t a joking matter.
By our very nature we want to care for those people who we love and respect, and it’s great that these nurturing feelings spur us into action. But when we are caring for others – whether in a professional or personal capacity – we must always be conscious of how much of our own time, effort and energy we are investing.
It can be draining sometimes. And even if you don’t see things from this perspective, all this care can leave you a little depleted at times.
I know it’s tough, particularly if, like me, you love helping others. I thrive on being able to support other people. But I’m now also very conscious of me, too. I have learnt the hard way. I have discovered that self-neglect can have long-lasting consequences. I know that in order to be at my optimal best, and help my friends, family, colleagues and clients when they need me, I have to look after myself first and foremost. I need to be firing on all cylinders, if you like. I need my cup to be filled to the very top.
You can’t give from an empty vessel – have you heard that old adage, right? Well it’s true! If you’re too tired, empty, drained and worn out, you’re no good to anyone. But if your cup (or your vessel) is abundant, then just think of the rich benefits you can bring to others’ lives; as well as your own.
Let’s look at this whole full cup/empty cup theory in another way.
People say you are either a positive person who sees a half-full cup, or you’re a negative half-empty type. I am more of a believer that it’s more about mindset and that my cup is refillable. At any time, in any moment, I can replenish, without question or hesitation. (I told you I’ve learnt the hard way.) It’s not about being an optimist or a pessimist; it’s about seeing things as infinity and without restriction – so if your cup is looking or feeling a little empty right now, go fill that bad boy up.
I also use the cup analogy as a self-care measure. To avoid draining yourself by giving from an empty vessel, you must take time out first to refill your cup. As my business has grown, this is something I’ve become increasingly mindful of. Making sure I look after myself so that I can look after others has now become a regular habit. I know I should meditate and exercise and eat well – those are the basics, right?! And while I’m no angel, I am happy to say that I mostly get this right.
I came across this quote the other day which really struck me…
“When you give to others to the degree that you sacrifice yourself you make the other person a thief.”
– A Course In Miracles
Profound, isn’t it? If you give to others to the degree that you sacrifice yourself then you make the other person a thief. So, in essence, the full cup is for you, and whatever overflows is for you to give freely to others. Wow!
You need to make sure you’re looking after yourself well – and if you can’t do it for yourself then do it for the people you care for and want to help. You certainly don’t want karma to view them as thieves, do you?
So how do you keep your cup at just the right level?
Firstly, you have to make sure the basics are in place;
- Eat well
- Drink water
- Fresh air
- Sleep well
And then you need to think about all the different things that bring your joy into your everyday world, and make time for them on a daily basis.
Remember, it is ok to take a break from work for a little while to eat a nutritious lunch, grab a refreshing drink, cut back on screen time and have a breather.
It is also ok to reward yourself with treats too.
Treats don’t have to be huge or extravagant, either. You know those nice clothes that you usually save for best? Wear them today. Use that gorgeous (expensive) bubble bath every time you have a bath (what did you buy it for if not to indulge yourself?).
It’s about doing things which make YOU happy and make YOU smile. It’s about forgetting about everyone else for a little while and not feeling guilty. It really is ok to make you a priority. It’s not selfish or egotistical. It’s a basic human need.
So go pick up that hobby again, and treat yourself to your favourite coffee at the coffee shop and watch the world go by, just because you’re in that kind of mood. Book yourself a regular beauty treatment or put spa days into your diary once a month.
However you fill your cup is up to you.
The important thing is to MAKE SURE you’re FILLING YOUR CUP regularly and consistently, so that you and everyone you care about can benefit.