Millennial Musing
November 14, 2017
You can’t pour from an empty cup

Most of us have seen this quotation floating around on the Internet, but what does it really mean? The literal interpretation seems very obvious; if a cup is empty then you can’t get anything from it. However, for the sake of this column, I’ll focus on the figurative meaning.

My personal interpretation has always been “If you are low on energy, you won’t be able to help those around you, including yourself.” Energy comes in multiple forms, whether spiritual energy, physical energy or emotional energy.

Too many times, we forget this, we forget that we’re human beings and not robots. There will always be a limit to how much you can push or expect from yourself, and instead of acknowledging our boundaries, we usually succumb to guilt. This trend will only get worse as this generation often associates fatigue with weakness and sleep as a waste of time.

Moreover, we neglect our emotional needs, always remember that you need the same love and attention you give to everyone else. How many times have you listened to your loved ones’ problems? Now how many times have you felt abandoned when you needed them to reciprocate that same attention?

We give, and we give and never get, until it seems like there’s nothing left to give, until you feel empty and hollow inside. In my short time on this earth, I’ve come to realize that you can’t wait for someone to fill you up, you must do it for yourself.

I’ve learnt that lasting happiness and fulfilment comes from within, not from other people. People can make you happy, I don’t discount that, but lasting happiness comes from your own internal joy.

Self-care is often discounted as something only the rich can afford. You tell yourself you have too many responsibilities; the children, your spouse and your job. Imagine if you had to get from Kingstown to Layou and your only mode of transportation was a gasless car. Would you rather spend money to fill up the tank, or push the car all the way to Layou?

That metaphor might seem silly, but neglecting yourself is just as silly. Running yourself into the ground makes everything you have to do that much harder, and it’s no more logical than pushing a gasless car.

It’s very hard to take care of yourself when you’re a selfless person, but imagine how much more productive you would be if you learnt to put yourself first. When you begin to feel more fulfilled, everyone around you will benefit.

Taking care of yourself does not have to be a drastic change on your lifestyle. There are several small changes you can make in your life that will make huge differences. I often find the most effective way to change your life is by changing your routine in increments.

You can start by taking walks in the afternoon after work, or whenever is best, if you have children. Walking is great for lifting your mood and increasing cardiovascular health. You also get time away from everyone to think and just be alone with some fresh air.

A second change is to treat yourself, and no, this does not have to be expensive. Treating yourself can be something as small as buying your favourite candy or changing your hairstyle. Take the night off and go out with your friends. If you are feeling spiritually low, you can start attending church.

The idea is to sit down and think about what makes you happy and how you can fit those things into your lifestyle. If you want to be of service to people, start by being of service to yourself.