Updated: Jun 29, 2020
“I take care of myself because I love myself, I love myself fully so that I may reflect the love I wish to receive from others. I love myself first, so that I may project that same love onto others.”
This is one of my favorite affirmations, and I actually found myself journaling about it a few months ago. I’ve always understood the theory, but my thoughts and habits were hardly aligning in this area at the time. All too often, I’d find myself...well, over-loving. Over-loving my work, my friends, my family, creative projects, my social life, the idea that I needed to lose weight.
Over-pouring from our own vessels into the (sometimes broken) vessels of others can be overwhelming. I’m sure by now you’ve heard the saying, “It's hard to pour from an empty cup.”
So, friends, I ask you: What’s in your cup? When was the last time you poured into you? How much time and energy are you giving other people? Drama that you didn’t create but somehow attract.
Now, I’m not talking about going shopping with the extra money you know you should be saving because somebody on Instagram once told you to “treat yoself” (I’m triggered...although I must say that seeing “Your order has been shipped” in my email does incite a little happy dance in my spirit).
If your cup is feeling rather empty, then may I invite you to have a seat at my table for some JUICE? Joy, Understanding, Intimacy, Compassion and Empathy, that is. These are the basic needs that can truly fill our cup (that don’t include pampering or spending money) if we prioritize our self-care:
Personally, I think it’s important to find ways to incorporate joy into your daily routine. This doesn’t have to be something grand or luxurious. For some of us it may be time spent with our family or friends, for others it may be the hot bath we look forward to after a long day at work. Some of us are even fortunate enough to find our career joyful.
Examine your life for a moment. What are some of the small things that bring you joy? Things that don’t cost money. Mine are having a cup of coffee with my grandmother, seeing my nephew’s face light up when I walk in a room, and adding books to my Amazon cart.
Grab a piece of paper and write down as many things as you can think of that bring you joy.
Ellen DeGeneres said, “It’s wonderful to be loved, but it’s profound to be understood.” How many of us have ever felt misunderstood? I know this feeling all too well and it can be quite isolating, it can also elicit feelings of loneliness.
I’ve learned that understanding is not always instant. I used to think either people understand me or they don’t, but much like anything else, understanding is something we can cultivate and must practice in our daily lives. Mutual understanding has many layers and takes work.
Do you feel understood by the people in your family, social circle or work? Create a list with two separate columns. On the left, list everyone that you feel understood by, on the right list the people that you would like to be understood by. I invite you to extend a short message of gratitude to the people on the left for their presence in your life.
As for the people you’ve listed on the right, I want you to think of ways that you can work towards a mutual understanding. If you were to ask this person, would they say they were understood by you? We all want to be understood and I get that, but let’s not forget to be understanding ourselves. It’s important to gravitate to those we feel most understood by while working to strengthen the relationships where we feel understanding is lacking.
When you hear the word intimacy, what comes to mind? Honestly, upon hearing the word intimacy, I used to envision something cliché like two lovers in a bed of roses…or sex. Just sex. It took me years to realize that sex and intimacy were not synonymous.
One definition of intimacy is close familiarity or friendship, or closeness. Why do feel we must reserve intimacy for our lovers (husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, life and non-binary partners)?
I invite you to seek out intimate moments with your friends. We are hardwired for human connection, romantic or otherwise. I’ve been fortunate enough to openly explore intimacy in a few of my friendships. This looks like us sitting or sometimes laying on the couch talking (for hours sometimes) about our hopes and fears. Other times it’s expressing our gratitude for one another.
Write down some of your favorite non-romantic, intimate moments. If none come to mind, I invite you to write down 2-3 people you’d like to find deeper intimacy with and ways you can do so.
Now here’s a word we hear all the time but when was the last time you actually stopped to conduct a “compassion audit” of your own life? Compassion is the kind and caring energy we show towards others and ourselves. If I were to ask you to list the ways you show compassion to others what would you list? That charitable donation (that you plan to write off on your taxes), or how about that Instagram worthy time you gave that homeless guy some money? I suppose despite the personal gain someone was helped through your “selflessness”. But seriously, list some other, less social media worthy ways that you show compassion to others on a daily basis. If you are unable to identify any at the moment, then here’s a wonderful opportunity to identify ways that you can start! On the other hand, I find that all too often it’s far easier to show compassion to everyone but ourselves. We’re our biggest and most unforgiving critics, aren’t we? If I were to ask you to list the various ways you are compassionate to yourself, what would you write? Sometimes, my self-compassion looks like disallowing the negative self-talk I so willingly engage in when I didn’t scratch off everything on my to-do list. In these moments my self-compassion says, “You did your best today and you accomplished a lot”. The expression of compassion comes in many forms.
Whew! I’m sure by now we’ve all heard this term either at work, home, tv or social media. I like to say…If sympathy is feeling for, then empathy is feeling with…usually through tapping into some shared experience. What better way to feed our spirit than by being present with someone and saying I hear you, I see you, I’m with you…No need to assume ownership of another’s problems and stresses, just holding space. It’s very important to practice empathy whenever we can and to also pay attention to those who show us empathy. Has anyone ever shown you empathy? How did it make you feel? Are you more prone to show sympathy than empathy? Create a short (or long) list of moments where you’ve shown or felt empathy. If you’ve never thought about it or would like a little clarity, here’s a little video by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Brene Brown, on empathy.
By now you should have five separate lists. I invite you to study your lists and journal how you can incorporate JUICE into your daily life.
For me, it’s reading self-help books, blogging, journaling, dancing through the house to my newest playlist, holding space and sharing feelings with those that I love...sleeping as long as I wish on Saturdays. Other times it’s setting boundaries and saying, “No” when I need the space.
Let’s collectively affirm: “I serve myself first, I take care of myself first. Not because I am self-centered but because I seek the steady balance of pouring and receiving.”
A steady flow of supportive energy.
You deserve to feel supported, so fill your cup with JUICE.
Refills are free.
Peace,Love and Juice!