One of the most precious pieces of advice I got when I was studying Psychology was from my professor. She used to repeatedly keep saying, “Girls, fill your love buckets first before you seek to give or get love from others”. She emphasized it often. At one level, I may have understood its importance. But it has so many connotations in so many contexts, I am beginning to realise only now.
I see people trying to be there for others because they don’t know how to be there for themselves. And later, when they don’t find the other person being grateful, they feel bad. They feel they were used, or taken for granted, or ignored because they bent backward to be there for someone else. If you do things to validate your existence, it might not happen that way. Only you can validate your existence.
Some people try to appreciate others and give gifts, trying hard to make people feel good, or flattered about themselves. Deep within themselves, they find it very hard to appreciate themselves. No amount of appreciating others will help you fill your void inside unless you learn to appreciate your own self too.
Some people really take good care of others, cooking for them, doing things for them and whatnot. But they feel empty from within. Because they never paid attention to their own body, their own needs, and how to cater to themselves. Somewhere, there was a deep desire that others should find out their needs and fulfill it without asking. Wishful thinking! If I am not ready to pay attention to my own needs, why would anyone else want to pay attention to it? If I am unable to notice the pain in my arm, no one else can feel it for me. If I express it, people might understand. If I ignore it, people might not notice either.
Some people protect others while pushing themselves under the bus. They take the blame for things they aren’t responsible for. They ‘save’ people from their own selves and reality. Excess of anything isn’t helpful. To save others from guilt, if you go on massive guilt trips yourself, the relationship is going to be thrown out of whack anyway. Neither feel guilty nor make others feel guilty. Take responsibility where needed and help others to take responsibility where required too – so that harmony is maintained and people learn healthily. (To learn more on how to do this- please watch this video).
Some people have this thinking – it is me or them. It is my needs or their needs. That’s where this dirty little term called ‘sacrifice’ creeps in and creates havoc. Anyone who believes they have sacrificed, don’t tend to feel good because they didn’t operate on win-win. They feel others owe them something. That very feeling creates a lot of ill-feeling when people don’t reciprocate. Why does it have to be this or that, you or them? Why can’t it be you and them? Why can’t we take care of ourselves and others? If you take care of yourself, you’ll be able to take care of others in much better ways. You’ll do whatever you are doing healthily and happily. That’s the best gift you can give to others.
Notice for patterns in yourself –
- When you are appreciating others, do you put down yourself?
- When you love others, do you dislike yourself?
- When you take care of others, do you ignore yourself?
- When you look up to others, do you look down at yourself?
- When someone rejects you, do you disapprove of yourself?
- When something goes wrong, do you blame yourself for everything?
- Do say ‘sorry’ too often to too many?
- Are you ever ready to forgive others but find it very hard to forgive yourself?
- If someone asks you to state 10 things that you love in yourself, does it not come easily for you?
If your answer to any of the above it true, then there are greater chances that you may be feeling bitter from within and waiting for others to change. Change doesn’t have to be outside of you. Change from within. Prioritise yourself along with everything else in life. Understand yourself. Pay attention to yourself healthily. Once you do this, you will see others’ attitudes towards you changing too. No amount of external love can fill the empty love bucket within you. If you fill it with love first, you’ll be more ready to recognise true love outside. For any of us who struggle with understanding who’s genuine and who’s not – it is mostly because our love buckets are empty from within. We can’t recognise something that we don’t have within. Once you fill it, you’ll see that you can recognise people and their intentions more accurately. An empty bucket is ready to get itself filled up by anything. Since it doesn’t have anything, it might not have an understanding of what needs to go in. A clean bucket that has super clean water will want to be filled only with super clean water again. Because that’s what it contains already. If you want true love, you gotta love yourself truly! Just that!