Emotional Buckets

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.

Sending Love.

Leaning In…

I have been doing a lot of research for my next writing project during lock down.  The phrase ‘lean in’ has come up surprisingly often.

The message I am receiving from the universe is clearly to ‘lean in‘. Accept the good, the bad and the downright painful.  Take the disappointments and breathe.  How does it feel, and what changes when we move into into pain?

We are not meant to swallow emotional pain, to choke it into the backs of our throat and pretend it is not there.  We are not equipped to ignore ongoing emotional pain.  It will sneak up on us in the middle of the night, it will keep us waking, tossing and turning and praying uselessly for the oblivion of sleep. Emotional pain will close our muscles tight to our frame, numb our nerves, tighten our chest, our jaw, our temples.  Stomach juices will churn, appetites will shift in extremes and our concentration will vanish. There are too many manifestations of emotional stress on the human body to mention here.

Naturally we want to push the painful thing aside, rub our wounds and search for why it happened.  Time and time again we will take the blame upon ourselves.  A friend could comment that we look tired, and we will think it is because you have not put yourself to together enough, you are wearing the wrong clothes, you are too fat, too old and too past it.  A lover may be unfaithful to you and instantly you think that it was because you were lacking, you are not enough and you failed to satisfy him/her.  A parent may have neglected you and so you tell yourself that it was because you were unlovable.  I call this surface blame, and I have wasted a lot of time trying to fix myself up as a result of the behavior of others.

Emotional pain takes time to fester, we need to sit with it and lean on it to get through.  It requires faith to get us through to the other side.  On the way there you will beat the brow of insecurity, fear and self-betrayal.  You may never forgive the people that drove you there, but you can come out of the other side a stronger and more resilient manifestation of you. But only if you do the work and lean in, take a deep breath and dive through the pain.

When I was a child I use to climb on the roof of our stilted house and hide from the world.  I could hear the busyness in the house below and the traffic running along the main road we lived on.  I could also see the down through the tops of the trees and into our neighbours manicured yards.

One day I was sure I could reach down and pick a red hibiscus flower from the tree that grew next to the house.  I was sitting crossed legged and reached forward down past the gutter towards the flower.  I stretched my arm, leaned forwards and reached in with my whole body.  The flower was much further than I anticipated, it didn’t matter how far I stretched myself, or how hard I tried in that moment to be more than I was there wasn’t enough of me. I tumbled forwards and landed heavily on the paved concrete path below. My foot caught in the guttering and pulled it down. The crash of the gutter caused my dad to come outside.  This was back in the seventies before everyone knew first aid. I was winded. He picked up and held me, rubbing my back, encouraging my lungs to breathe.  I was left with some bruising and scratches but nothing serious.

That fall, that tumbling, that feeling of having all my breath my prana literally knocked out of me, is what my emotional pain feels like and why it is so hard to lean into it.  Self preservation kicks in – “everything will be alright if only I…”

  • Be quiet
  • Try harder
  • Apologise
  • Agree
  • Make a promise
  • Pretend to understand
  • Whatever else it may take for peace…

How often do we fall, hit hard, loose our breath and dust ourselves off as if the blow didn’t strike home? We ignore the pain, we are only human and will do whatever we can, to make it go away.  However, the answer is to lean into it. Imagine stepping into a cold ocean.  Inch yourself into it. Through the waves that will shock you, the rocks and shells beneath the water sticking into your sinking feet, and the something that slimes past your leg that your eyes didn’t catch. You have to keep your wits about you. There are actual sharks in the ocean, real dangers and things that will bite you. There is also beauty, calm and reassurance in the reliability of the ebb and the flow of the ocean, the cool water on your skin, the salt air in your nostrils.

Beach

You don’t have to lean in by yourself, seek help.  Find a counsellor, use a journal, draw, write, practice meditation and yoga.  Take steps to take care of yourself.  On days where it all seems too difficult to explore do simple things, take a shower, sort a drawer, cook a meal from scratch, go out for a meal, sleep, watch a movie, walk the dog or stroke the cat.  What ever it takes to remind you of a simple pleasure in life.

There are no quick fixes. It is only when you begin to breathe again that you can let go, move forward and keep going.  Yes, like it or not you have to lean into the pain to find out what is on the other side of it.  Changing yourself will not make a person faithful, a parent love you or a friend like your freaky taste in clothing.  Leaning in to pain will help you to become more authentic, to trust in yourself and your decisions, to learn that you are enough.

“Let yourself be seen. Love with your whole heart. Practice gratitude. Lean into joy. Believe you are enough” Brene Brown.

Practical help is always available:

Yoga – find a teacher, look out for my online classes coming soon, contact me, reach out, leave a comment below.

Listen to music

Journal

Pray, meditate, practice heart yoga.

Counselling – start here at https://www.beyondblue.org.au 

Overall, practice loving kindness to yourself.

Namaste xx

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