I’m sure we’ve all been asked, “What do you do to fill yourself up?” Or if you haven’t been asked that question, ask it of yourself now. Social workers, parents, teachers, medical professionals….so many others I can’t even list them all, often operate from a giving standpoint 100% of the time. If we are always giving, and we use ourselves up, then we have nothing else to pour out to others. What happens then is that even though we are trying to give, we end up taking; with our negativity, or our sharp words or by putting up a wall that feels impenetrable to those around us.
I saw this image this morning after having a conversation yesterday with a student. The student was asking about parents that bring their kids to sessions and say things like, “My child is killing me. I can’t do this anymore.” I was explaining to the student that many times the behaviors of kids we see are exhausting, even for an hour. Imagine being that parent, dealing with it all the time. Imagine the guilt of that parent as they feel drained and only want time away from their kid, not to mention the guilt they feel over wondering what they are doing wrong. The student and I were discussing that sometimes the best intervention at that point is to validate the parent’s feelings and give them permission to take time to themselves. This can be doing lunch alone or with a friend. Yoga. Reading a book for 20 minutes before the kids get up or after they go to sleep. Date night. Sending the kids to Grandma’s house. Taking a long, hot shower. Anything can help to fill up your cup as long as it is done mindfully. What doesn’t work is feeling constantly exhausted and spending your few minutes of down time worrying about all the things that still need done.
Give yourself permission to take a few mindful minutes a day to be peaceful. You can worry the other 23 1/2 hours of the day. If you don’t, your cup will be empty and you will have nothing else to pour out as you try to give to others.