What expectations do you have of others? You may think “none” and then one day you have an interaction with someone—a significant other, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, and your realize you are upset. Why are you upset? You are upset because that someone—whoever they were, did not respond to you the way you wanted them to. Maybe you weren’t consciously aware of the desire you were holding onto, but you actually were holding onto a deep desire for that person to: show interest in you and your life, notice what an excellent job you are doing, seek you out to spend time with you, compliment you, or even surprise you with a thoughtful gift. I have notice that I often have a “wish” for how a person in my life would behave toward me. Sometimes it happens, and I am very happy! Yay! However, more often than not, the other person has no idea of my expectation and is busy doing his or her own thing—and I am disappointed.
The thing is, and I know this—no one else is responsible for how I feel—for showing interest, for noticing what I’m doing well, for complimenting me, and so on. Other people, whether it’s my family or a co-worker do not exist to cater to my feelings and my wishes. They owe me nothing. In fact, in my mind, heart, and spirit, I believe they are there so that I can bless, help, and serve them. That’s how I want to act—but, there is a disconnect and at times I put other expectations on them.
To avoid that, I am going to learn and practice how to “fill my own cup.” I’m sure you are familiar with the metaphor. When I go to God, and I let him take care of me, and I practice taking care of myself, I have a cup overflowing with everything I need. Then, it is much easier for me to go to other relationships with that full cup and spread some goodness around, instead of going around with my empty cup and hoping someone else will pour into it. Great revelation, right?
Now, what? How does one actually…fill the proverbial cup?
- Receive from the God. The emphasis here is on receiving. I can be very disciplined about having my daily devotional, doing my reading, and study, and praying. That’s important, and I believe that studying and reading, can be a way of filling your cup, if you do it with an open and seeking heart—a heart believing that God is going to speak to you, bless you, and minister to you. You can also be filled by praying for God to refresh you and fill you, by being quiet in his presence and listening, by meditating, by listening to or singing workshop music. The point is, it’s not about what we are doing for God, and it is about being still and allowing him to minister to us. We were not created to function without His deep love, help and support. Take time to receive it.
- Get interested in yourself. This may sound strange, but the idea is to deeply engage with your own life. Think about what you do and how you spend your time from your responsibilities to your hobbies. Which activities can you engage with more deeply? Even if nothing comes to mind—even if you feel “lukewarm” toward many of your activities, try picking one or two and working on engaging more deeply. When we are involved in our own beautiful projects and living our life whole-heartedly, we are less likely to look outside ourselves for fulfillment. Consider how you can engage more deeply in your career, in your relationship, your health. Dream big, and set a few action steps to take.
- Speak to yourself in a positive way. My love language is words of encouragement and affirmation. I have had seasons in life where I have gotten lots of words of encouragement and compliments and it’s been an amazing joy to hear and receive them. My current season that is not the case. That doesn’t mean, I have to go without. We all “speak” to ourselves in some kind of inner voice. Sadly, for most of us, that inner voice isn’t very nice. Now is the time to cultivate an inner voice that is positive and upbeat and notices everything that you do right. Practice talking to yourself the way you would to a best friend or daughter.
- Spend time doing what you love. No matter what it is, commit to doing something that you love every single day. Maybe you will read a chapter of a novel every day. Maybe you will write a few lines of poetry, or walk your dog, or watch your favorite TV show. It doesn’t have to be “impressive”—it just has to be something you love, that gives you joy. Commit to it. Promise yourself you get to do that thing daily.
- Work out. The research is undisputed. One of the best ways to boost your mood and your confidence and feel great in your own skin (and in your own life) is to exercise. I remember last spring, going on my first jog-walk interval training workout and the tremendous rush of pride in my accomplishment when I finished the workout. The mood-boosting benefits from exercise are amazing. Take advantage of them. Find something that fits into your lifestyle and do it as often as you can.
- Give yourself gifts. This is a pretty easy tip. Don’t wait for your family or spouse to figure out what you are longing. Don’t keep hinting and hoping they get the message. Life is short. If there is something you want, and you can afford it, and it will make your life significantly happier, why wait? Spring for the season tickets, the fancy art supplies, the patio furniture.
Got another idea? Is there another method you use to care for yourself and keep your cup full and overflowing? I would love to hear it. Please share in the comments.