There is a saying that goes “We give what we are.”
You might wonder what it means, and you may ask yourself the question “What am I?”
I’ll start with a short story about myself when I was a little girl. I was a creative and gifted child who always tried to be there for her friends. I don’t remember hesitating to offer help if anyone needed something, and I wasn’t a demanding or fussy child. Most often, I was happy with hand-me-downs from my elder sister and didn’t ask for much.
Unfortunately, what I do remember clearly of my childhood is that my mother was unapproving of most things I did. From criticizing me constantly to making me feel inadequate about who I was, my relationship with my mother was quite a damaging one. Not only did the constant disapproval affect my self-esteem and confidence as a child, but it stayed on even as I grew up, as I attended university, got a good-paying job, and got married. No matter what I did, I found myself feeling like one of the least confident people in any room I entered.
Years of self-doubt eventually turned to self-loathing. The friendly, enthusiastic child that I was turned into a critical bitter adult, filled with anger, who did not know how to set boundaries for herself. With a negative mindset, I had difficulty making new friends, maintaining my relationships and being confident in the decisions I made.
Through the years, as I’ve spoken to many people, they have told me that my story is their own. With or without an over critical parent or teachers in school, sometimes certain experiences in our childhood leave us scarred, and many leave us feeling like we are damaged goods. These experiences that we don’t completely understand as children become the baggage we carry with us as adults.
These experiences fill our ‘cup’ of life.
When I became a mother for the first time, I started my journey of motherhood pouring from a cup which was filled with self-loathing and self-doubt. Becoming a mother did not take away the experiences I had with my own mum, but it did make one thing very clear for me; I knew exactly the kind of mother I didn’t want to be. Thankfully, through a lot of self-work, mediation and help, I realized early on in my child’s life, that I could ‘pour out’ that which was and fill my cup with love, for myself and him.
The first rule of passenger safety in an aircraft is putting on one’s own oxygen mask before helping other passengers. It is true for life as well. We cannot help and love others if we do not love ourselves. Many people I speak to today feel lost, unseen and unheard. Their cups are filled with emotions and experiences from their past, leaving no space for anything new. The first act of self-love and reclaiming oneself is pouring out everything that doesn’t serve you in your life. The brilliant thing to realize is that we hold power to fill our cups with whatever we want. Maybe as children, we don’t, but certainly, as adults, we do. We can choose to fill it with people who love us, memories that make us happy, and experiences that help us lead a fulfilling life.
So, as we approach the end of a challenging year, with hope for a better one in 2021, I ask you:
What are you taking with you to the new year?
What is your ‘cup’ full of?
Picture Credit : allison christine on Unsplash