For many years I felt I had to do things to make other people happy. As a result, I put my needs second or third down the line. Over time, this led to feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration. In the effort to make other people happy, I sacrificed my own happiness and I became more exhausted with my efforts. Essentially, for the all the giving and sacrifice I was making, I felt I wasn’t receiving the love I deserved.
Have you experienced something similar?
You may have heard the phrase ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’. I have come to understand this to mean that we cannot take care of others (i.e. pour from our cup) if we are not taking care of ourselves first (i.e. not filling our cup). So the lesson in this is finding out how to fill our own cup up first.
I want to make a disclaimer here and say that serving others is an important part of our lives as humans, but serving others out of obligation vs serving others out of loving kindness are two different things. One leads to resentment and the other, ultimately, leads to happiness and joy.
When we serve people out of obligation, we do all these things for them whilst thinking ‘What are they doing for me?’.
The thing is they are probably not doing anything for you. Why? Because by always putting their needs first, you are showing them that they are more important than you. But that’s not true. You are just as important as they are and by allowing them to think that, you are facilitating their feelings of self-importance.
To make a change and facilitate the self-love process, it’s got to start with YOU!
I recommend that you start by taking some time to think about what makes you feel good. Ideally, you need to factor in some time every day for your own self-love and self-care. It has to become a priority. You may like to make yourself a cup of tea and pause for a moment to write down what your ideal day would look like. What would you do if you didn’t do all those things that you feel you have to do for other people? How does your ideal day start? What happens during the day? How does it end?
Now, you can’t have the perfect day every day, but there are definitely one or two things you would have identified that can be incorporated into your day on a more regular basis. Perhaps it’s taking time to read a book, or going for a run or walk, chatting to a friend on the phone, or taking a bath. These are just some simple examples, but I’m sure you get the idea.
Then it’s a matter of communicating to your partner/family/loved ones that you will be taking some time for yourself because you need to start to fill your cup up again. They may resent it at first and lay on the guilt, but you need to be firm. If you put their feelings and emotions over yours, the cycle will continue.
You need to show yourself some love and gratitude. You need to show others that you are important to you. By doing this, you will start to fill your cup and, given time, it will begin to overflow again because of the happiness you are creating from the inside out. The people around you will notice these changes and they will start to respect you more for setting these boundaries.
I encourage you to really think about this. To think about who you are, who you want to be, and how you want to feel.
Love yourself first, and then you will receive the love and respect you deserve from your family, your partner, your loved ones, your colleagues. Demonstrate your own self love and know that in doing so you are setting an example for others to follow. Notice the changes that take place as you fill your cup and you will begin to see how serving from a place of self-love enables more love and joy to flow in your life.