How Do You Fill Your Cup?
For decades I was a people pleaser, putting others’ needs before my own. I didn’t really know what I wanted for myself. I hadn’t taken the time to figure it out — I was too busy doing what I felt was expected of me.
So if you had suggested to me five years ago that I make space in my life to meditate or take a bath or go for a walk, I would’ve laughed ruefully and said I simply didn’t have time.
And if I’m totally honest, I think I secretly wore it like a badge of honour. (I must be a good person if I put everyone’s needs above my own, right?)
That path is a slippery slope. When we put everyone’s needs above our own and try to be perfect, we become depleted, exhausted and often resentful… and lose sight of ourselves, our wants and needs, and our precious dreams.
Thankfully, my life looks very different now. I’ve reclaimed what’s important to me and take much better care of myself. There’s a wise saying that goes, You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.
For me, that means being very mindful of my energy. I’m a pretty sensitive person energy-wise, and can start feeling depleted quickly, depending on the environment I’m in, the emotions of others around me, the amount of negativity around me, and so on — so I need to compensate for that.
And I know from experience that it takes a lot more effort to fill myself up from empty than it does to sustain a higher energy level. So if I want to be able to fully show up in the world, I need to put self-care high on the priority list.
And I do.
But even so, until recently I hadn’t found the right combination of activities that left me feeling really nourished. Although I’ve been making time for myself — and I cherish that time —it’s felt like a bit of a ’to do’ list: I should be sure to fit some exercise in. Oh, and meditation too. Maybe go for a walk if I find the time. And so on.
Recently, though, an intuitive friend introduced me to a more natural, heart-centered way to incorporate self-care. It’s beautifully simple, yet it hadn’t even entered my mind.
She said to me, “It’s really important what you feed yourself right now. And I’m not talking about food.” And immediately my mind jumped to the stuff I felt I should (note to self: kick that word to the curb) feed my brain: books and various forms of inspiring, informative stuff.
Then she stopped me, because that wasn’t what she was suggesting at all. She was referring to feeding my soul with things that delight me, things that light me up. Like noticing the beauty of a flower, taking a bath, being in nature, or even reading a trashy novel that makes me laugh.
The simple, heart-lifting, soul-inspiring stuff that feels so good.
And then I exhaled deeply. It was as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I realized that taking care of myself doesn’t have to be difficult or cerebral or make sense or be justifiable or even something I check off a to-do list. I can do it in ways that simply feel… right. And joyful. And fun.
The main criteria? It just has to feel good.
So now I’m committed to following the whispers of my soul and what it is calling for. Some days it’s meditation, other days it’s journaling, maybe it’s watching a chick flick or singing or stepping outside and looking up in awe at the stars. Or doing something wacky and laughing hysterically at myself.
I no longer care about what type of self-care I “should” do, as long as I do it. And that is so freeing.
It’s time to step back and allow myself to simply be. To lighten up. To take care of myself in whatever way feels right in the moment. And once I’ve done that, I can get back to my day and the rest of the world with renewed energy, a happy spirit and such deep gratitude.
Christine Callahan-Oke is an empowerment coach, mom, inspirational writer and positive thinker. Through coaching and writing, she offers practical tips to help people uncover their superpowers, find beauty in everyday moments and live authentically. When she’s not writing or connecting with others, Christine is likely making silly faces, pointing out the brighter side of something or thinking up some strange adventure. You can connect with her through her website, Your Inspired Life, or in her Facebook group, Fiercely Positive.