The Empty Cup Theory

Get ready guys, because this post is dedicated to my all-time favorite phrase:

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

What the heck does that mean?:

Pouring from an empty cup is the same as getting blood from a stone. You can’t fill a second vessel if there’s nothing in the first one. It’s a lot like when the flight attendant tells you to “secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” You have to help yourself first. If there’s no oxygen for you, you’ll pass out (or die) without being able to help your kids. The same can be applied to self care. You have to be a functioning human being to care for your children.

What fills a cup?:

Your cup is full when your needs are met. This is physically taking care of yourself like eating, sleeping, getting rest and exercising. Mental fulfillment like getting love, attention, peace, and happiness. Socially it will look like connecting with friends, family and peers. It may also include affection, security, feelings of success and productivity, or doing things that you like to do. Overall, you want to fill your cup with things that make you feel well.

What empties a cup?:

Cups are drained by negativity. Stress, rejection, loneliness, isolation, fighting, being insulted, failing and fatigue will all empty your cup. 

What happens when your cup isn’t full?:

kids love stealing from other people’s cups.

Usually, if your cup isn’t full, it’s tempting to steal from other people’s cups. This could be putting down others, fighting, or purposely making others unhappy. 

Sometimes, we want to draw attention to our empty cup to remind others to fill it. This could show as children acting out or adults who are irritable or passive aggressive. 

Some people seem to have bottomless cups. They need constant contact and attention. (she might kill me for saying this but-) My sister has a bottomless cup. In an adult this is a daily need to “check in” with friends, and be reassured no one is mad at you. In person she is super affectionate, and gives us all the love, hugs and kisses. She is thoughtful down to knowing and understanding all of her friends’ schedules, and has some serious FOMO- fear of missing out. She is social and loving, and wants that in return.

Sometimes we can sit still for refills- especially moms. This results in burnout, and can be avoided by taking time to ourselves, even if it’s just a moment to ‘top off’ our cup here and there. 

Moms are also guilty of being too busy filling other peoples’ cups to realize theirs is empty. We tend to stretch ourselves thin by making sure everyone else’s needs are met, neglecting our own needs. 

What fills my personal cup?: 

Rest, taking a shower, venting when I’m full of emotion, blogging, my family, my dogs, my friends.

What do I do to make sure my cup does not run empty?:

I ask for help when I need it. This skill didn’t come easy, but it has changed my life. I take time to rest, I make myself feel better by being clean and taking a shower. I blog because I love to write, to vent, and to help others. I connect with my peeps- even if it’s just on Facebook. I love seeing pictures of my friends’ happy kids, their funny parenting stories, and who doesn’t appreciate a good meme?

What fills my kids’ cups?

Jacen tells me his cup is filled with “love, affection, friendship, family time, play, succeeding and kindness. 

What happens when their cups are empty?

When Jacen’s cup loses ‘friendship’ at school, like the days he is bullied and feels isolated, he tends to lose play. His kindness turns to irritability, and then affection starts to drain. He usually tells me he needs a refill by crying. He is looking for us to replenish his affection with a hug and love. When he can go back and squash his fight with his friends, he will find his friendship and play again. Empty cups aren’t forever. There’s always a way to fill ‘em back up!

I am a die hard believer that it takes a healthy person to raise healthy people. Take care of yourself first, keep your cup full, then share with others. 

Stay healthy. Stay full.

Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.

PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STAY HOME.

-Kate

3 thoughts on “The Empty Cup Theory

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s