I want to speak to something I still see a lot on Instagram these days, especially in the self-help space. The idea that you can’t pour from an empty cup, so you should fill your cup up first. To be fair, I understand this is a nod to self-love and self-care, but I disagree with this statement.
21-year-old me, would probably agree. I specifically remember one afternoon driving around in the car with my dad in the middle of another argument pleading with him to stop being so generous and giving to the people around him because it was exhausting him and draining him. People didn’t appreciate it and they certainly weren’t returning the favor. I insisted that he could be so much more if he would just stop freely giving away his time and money. If he filled his cup up first, then siphoned off only what was left for others. That would be more reasonable.
His response, to my confusion, was that it didn’t feel that way to him. To him, it felt fulfilling. It was energizing and freeing, not exhaustive and restraining. I glared at him. I still didn’t understand but something in me motioned that I didn’t have much left to give to that argument and I stopped there.
As the years went on, as much as he continued to give generously and abundantly, he was never depleted. His hands were never empty. It was if as soon as something was poured into his cup he just sent it back out into the world and the well never ran dry.
Looking back now I see it clearly. Giving with expectation is draining. It’s exhausting to have a motive behind the giving, setting someone up to disappoint you and in return continuing your own downward spiral of resentment and anger. Giving without expectation, for the sole purpose of giving, is receiving.
The exchange has already happened at the moment of giving, not after.
We all have so much to give. All of us. You are never an empty cup. And if you feel empty and depleted, that’s exactly the moment you should look around and decide where you can give a little. Start with finding that little bit and expand from there. Let it build. Because we are not cups or wells that run empty and dry, we are made of water. We are the whole ocean.
Life by Design was born out of a need for my own self-healing after decades of unresolved illness. It wasn’t until finding the courage to look within that I discovered it was my own belief system holding me back from experiencing a truly thriving life. We all have access to that thriving life. We just need to rediscover our power and ignite the healing-self. Only then can we unapologetically live a life by our own design.