The acquisition and distribution of emotional resources
Picture your emotional bucket, imagine it there in your left or right hand. Now imagine that every time you encounter a person you give them something from your bucket. You give them love, understanding, kindness, wisdom, time, advice, an ear, an emotional touch and so on..
Think of all the gifts you naturally give out into the world. Every being has come to this earth to serve. We all have a role, you intuitively know what your role is, and you will intuitively seek out opportunities to fulfill that role. Our roles may manifest in a profession, a lifestyle, a hobby or a community that requires you to give care to others, to be a healer, to be a hero, to be a helper, to be an adviser, to be whatever it is you feel guided to do.
Are you tired, overwhelmed, frustrated or something else you just can’t put your finger on? Close your eyes again and look inside your bucket? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy?. Is it full of gifts of love and kindness you have received from yourself and others? Or does it make you feel queasy to see the dregs at that bottom resembling the discarded burnt oily castoffs that are cleared from the fryers in a fish and chip shop?
Refilling your bucket is easy, once you master one simple step. Repeat after me “I deserve to be loved and treat with loving kindness, I choose Love” I am not talking about greedily taking love from others or depending on others for depositing loving kindness into your bucket I am talking about you being willing to treat yourself with loving kindness, it is a universal law that Like attracts Like. Practice your own loving kindness, and watch the ripple effect that you create across your relationships and across the universe.
All too often the idea of taking care of yourself first feels selfish and indulgent, we have to step, jump and fly over this hurdle. Remind ourselves that the captain doesn’t say “in case of an emergency put everybody else’s mask on first then if you can manage it take care of yours!” NO he advises us to take care of ourselves first not to hand our husband his mask and fix our children’s masks on first. They will be okay, they got this. It’s a plastic mask with an elastic strap, let them try at least before putting yourself last.
Loving kindness is a vague concept, so what does it mean? In this context it is simply doing some things for yourself that make you feel good. Going to bed early, walking the dog, reading a book, taking yourself to a movie, journaling, pursuing that hobby you keep putting aside, finish the study you shelved, take a class, meditate, nourish yourself, take the trip you dreamed of, spend time by yourself, spend time in the company of those that naturally nourish you, be honest and truthful with who you are and what you want from YOUR life.
When you practice loving kindness towards yourself, your bucket will overflow, the universe will shift and finally you will live the life the universe had intended.
That said, Yes there are times when the needs of our children and loved ones will overtake the needs of ours especially during times of infancy, frailty and ill health. BUT I have to stress that you still need to take time to do something that nourishes you, that fills your bucket.
The second problem with our bucket that needs to be addressed aside from the lack of refueling is the distribution of resources. However this need to serve manifests itself in your life you need to ensure that you do not continually give until you are carrying an empty bucket. It is never your role to give all that you have, to exhaust yourself emotionally, mentally and physically.
In our lives the first circle of hands in our bucket belong to our immediate family. Our partners and children need our love, in any number of guises they need our energy, attention, understanding, time and so on. Behind our circle stand our extended family waiting to take what they need, then our friends, our work, our community, and our society. Your list may vary to mine, the order and content may be different, I offer you this example from my own experiences, and with a question – where do the people that matter most in your life stand in your circle?
Think of the people in your life? I immediately think of those closest to me, my husband and my children. These are the most important people in my life and the ones I give the most to, and yes often to my own detriment. Like everyone I am a work in progress.
I realise that I am not always doing my best work, when I am handing out the dregs to those closest to me. What they deserve is the gold, the shiniest, brightest, jewels I have to offer. If I had them they would be theirs, with a little reserved for a rainy day. I am often tired and emotionally drained. I know that this is the result of me not doing the things that I needed to do to load up my bucket. It is my own fault and yes I fully take the blame. My work is great, we run a Karate club which is fulfilling work and reminds me to connect with the world, I love seeing my husband teach, I loved training before the crash, and hope to again when the pain stops. I love teaching Yoga. Yoga nourishes my body and soul, reminds to connect with the universe, the time on my mat is sacred. I slid off the writing gig with an painful thud so I am dusting myself off and getting back in there. Writing nourishes me like nothing on earth, I believe it stops me going mad, bottle-necking my stress and becoming emotionally impotent.
What are your fillers?
What if you have a perfectly adequately filled bucket. With just enough to get by on but you give it away to the outer circles in your life and those closest to you receive the dregs if anything. It will often be those close to you that take up the responsibility of providing you with fillers for your bucket or with opportunities to fill your bucket, which you again give out to the wider circle and bring home empty. It is not uncommon, and often goes unnoticed but it still needs to be addressed. Fill your bucket with what nourishes you, and share your gifts with those closest to you first. It will create a ripple effect across your circle, love gives love.
My bucket issue is that it feels temporarily empty and I know that recognizing that puts me firmly on my way to fixing it.