We are raised to put others before ourselves. To be selfless and, as a parent, to be sacrificing. This way of thinking may make those we care for to feel safe and cherished, but it can leave us feeling drained and empty, and possibly even resentful of the time given to those we love because it leaves us with nothing for ourselves.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. Without replenishing the contents, you soon run out and then everyone goes thirsty.
If you wake up tired and go to bed exhausted, then it’s time you started putting yourself first. Go on – give yourself permission. It’s ok to say “no”. It’s not a weakness to ask for help, it’s a sign of strength. My mum shakes her head at the way the current generation of children has been raised to expect everything. She often tells me to stop, and let them sort it out for themselves. That I don’t need to drive my teenager when he’s perfectly capable of getting the bus or walking if he gets out of bed earlier. That my ten-year-old can get his own uniform ready every night instead of playing on his tablet while I tidy around him.
What am I teaching my kids if I don’t show them that I am worthy of time too? How am I preparing them for independence if I don’t show them that, while they are always number one in my heart, the world outside doesn’t actually revolve around them? Or show them that adults don’t always have the answers, so they know it’s ok to fail sometimes. You can still make your children feel loved and protected without making their lives “perfect”.
The same is true for work. If you’re great at what you do, you probably find yourself being given more and more work. This may feel flattering at first, but it can soon start to feel like a punishment as it eats into energy leaving you with nothing left for yourself or your family at the end of the day. Churning through work becomes a priority and, you stop feeling satisfaction and pride and start feeling anger and resentment.
If you’re running on fumes, then it’s time to stop and refuel. Give yourself the simple pleasure of not having to go anywhere or do anything this weekend. Book a day off work and use it doing something you love at a pace you choose and not because you need to fit in with someone else’s itinerary.
Remember to check the level in your cup from time to time and top it up before it gets too low. Spend a little time every day replenishing your cup. The more you give yourself, the more you will have for others and you can, once again, take pleasure in being generous.